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The ESG awareness gap: What’s stopping UK investors from putting their money where their values are?

29 June 2023 · 3 min read

The ESG awareness gap: What’s stopping UK investors from putting their money where their values are?

New report has found that 60% of UK retail investors don't know what ESG means, and more than a third have never heard of it

The report — “The ESG awareness gap: What’s stopping UK investors from putting their money where their values are?” — was released by social impact-focused strategic communications and global public affairs agency Atalanta. The findings are based on a survey of 1,000 UK retail investors by Opinium, an award-winning strategic insights agency.

Key findings include:

  • Although their awareness is low, UK investors have a strong level of interest in ESG investing. Of respondents who have not yet invested in ESG, nearly half (49%) are interested in doing so in the near future.
  • Interest in ESG investing is particularly high amongst women, with 55% of respondents reporting that they are interested in investing in ESG in the near future, compared to 45% of men.
  • Investors’ top motivation for ESG investing is a desire to make a positive impact (24%), followed by aligning their investments with their personal beliefs (16%), on par with providing access to companies that will create long-term value (16%).
  • Seven in ten investors (71%) expect all investment funds to become more sustainable in the future, raising the stakes for asset managers.

The report also includes a detailed analysis of the aspects of ESG that investors find most compelling. It revealed that while current ESG investors and those interested in ESG prioritise climate change and carbon emissions, there is an opportunity to engage a wider potential pool of investors by focusing on social issues, including healthcare, education and housing.

The report concludes with concrete recommendations for asset managers. These include placing a stronger focus on awareness-raising, simplifying and demystifying language around ESG investing, and taking into account differences in investment behaviours across genders. It also points to the need for greater alignment around rating benchmarks to build investor confidence. Finally, it highlights the need for asset managers to demonstrate performance, bolster their reputation, and show tangible impact.

Speaking about the release of the report, Atalanta Founder & CEO Eva Barboni said: “ESG investing has been a hot topic—and a source of controversy—in recent months. To get back on the front foot, asset managers will need to double down on their efforts to engage retail investors and convince them that prioritising ESG is a smart bet in a difficult investment environment. We hope this report will help them do that.”

Alexa Nightingale, Research Director & partner at Opinium added, “Despite low awareness, our research clearly shows that interest in ESG investing is high. To realise this opportunity, asset managers will now need to focus on demystifying the sector and demonstrating the tangible impact ESG has to help convince investors to put their money where their values are. ”

Read the report

Notes for Editors:

About Atalanta

Atalanta is a strategic communications and global public affairs agency focused on delivering lasting impact on issues that matter for people and the planet. The world is changing—fast. From volatile geopolitical dynamics to urgent environmental and social challenges, organisations are finding the context in which they operate shifting at a rapid pace. Across the public, private, and third sectors, many organisations are responding to these shifts with ambitious goals to drive change. We help them navigate complex global communications and stakeholder landscapes to deliver lasting impact on the issues that matter.

About Opinium

Opinium is an award-winning strategic insight agency built on the belief that in a world of uncertainty and complexity, success depends on the ability to stay on pulse of what people think, feel, and do. We work with organisations to define and overcome strategic challenges — helping them to get to grips with the world in which their brands operate. We use the right approach and methodology to deliver robust insights, strategic counsel and targeted recommendations that generate change and positive outcomes.


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Atalanta Limited is a private limited company registered in England and Wales, with company number 10924770. Registered address: First Floor, 5 Fleet Place, London EC4M 7RD, United Kingdom.

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