Millennials finally ready to invest sustainably

The 41% who said they have invested in companies or funds targeting positive social and environmental outcomes is close to the 47% who said they check product packaging to ensure sustainability

Sep 13, 2019 @ 3:29 pm

By Bloomberg News

Wealthy millennials are finally thinking about investing in sustainable companies almost as much as they shop for socially conscious products in stores, according to a survey released Thursday.

About 95% of millennials — which the survey classified as people aged 18 to 37 — are now interested in sustainable investing, according to a poll published by Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing. That's up 9 percentage points from a similar poll in 2017.

(More: Register now for InvestmentNews' inaugural ESG & Impact Forum on Dec. 5 at the United Nations.)

While most millennials don't have enough cash to invest, those that do have also changed their approach, the biannual survey of 800 investors with at least $100,000 of investible assets found.

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"We have started to see millennials and the population more broadly start to invest in the same way they've been trying to consume food and clothing," said Matthew Slovik, head of global sustainable finance at Morgan Stanley. "They are looking under the hood."

About 41% of millennials polled said they have invested in companies or funds targeting positive social and environmental outcomes. That's in striking distance of the 47% who said they check product packaging to ensure sustainability and the narrowest gap between those two answers in the poll's history.

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In 2015, just 22% of millennials said they invested sustainably, while 40% checked whether product packaging was sustainable. The survey found a similar shift in the general population.

Investors said they struggle to find the right opportunities, even as sustainable investments reached $30 trillion globally last year.

The poll found that 65% of investors who want to invest sustainably saw a lack of available financial products as a barrier to deploying more capital, with demand for sustainable 401(k) options outpacing the supply of socially conscious products in 401(k) plans.

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