Survey: Impact investing attracting growing interest despite ‘greenwashing’ concerns

The appeal of impact investing is reaching new heights with the growth in greatest interest in the UK, according to an investor survey by American Century Investments.

While over one in two of UK respondents have concerns about ‘greenwashing’, only 30 per cent said this would influence their interest in impact investing.

The asset manager’s study found that 63 per cent of UK respondents found the concept of impact investing appealing in 2021, up from 48 per cent the previous year and higher than the other three countries surveyed – the United States, Germany and Australia.

Of the UK respondents, the appeal was highest among ‘Millennials’ at 67 per cent, and men at 66 per cent.

These two groups were also the most likely to have already made impact investments or which to plan to within the next five years.

However, other generations were close behind with 63 per cent of ‘Baby Boomers’ and 62 per cent of ‘Gen Xers’ agreeing they found the concept appealing. Moreover, 60 per cent of women liked the concept.

A sizeable portion – 39 per cent – of all respondents were willing to sacrifice investment returns for positive impact. The study further found that worries about greenwashing were highest in the UK with 58 per cent of respondents agreeing they were concerned that greenwashing had increased.

Conversely, only 30 per cent felt greenwashing was influencing their interest in impact investing

Of the four countries, American Century Investments surveyed the UK saw the highest growth, but interest in the other three countries was still noticeable, with 61 per cent of US respondents finding impact investing appealing, up from 51 per cent in 2020 and 44 per cent in Germany, up from 35 per cent in the previous year.

Sarah Bratton Hughes, senior vice president and head of ESG and sustainable investing for American Century Investments, commented on the findings: “We see a rising demand for impact investing across geography, generation and gender, along with favorable economics and a supportive political and regulatory environment that will drive changes and advances in sustainable investing over the coming year.”

A version of this article originally appeared at Investment Week.

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