Climate Action

British public concerned by banks’ socially and environmentally harmful investments

Polling commissioned by ShareAction reveals British public are concerned about how their money is being invested by their financial providers.

  • 17 July 2023
  • Press Release

Polling commissioned by ShareAction reveals British public are concerned about how their money is being invested by their financial providers. 

The data released by ShareAction focuses on public attitudes to their financial provider investing in companies that fail to treat workers well or protect the environment.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, sought the opinions of over 2000 British adults. 

It found that while over 52 % were interested in receiving more information about how their financial service providers were investing their money, 83% said they only knew little about where their money is being invested. Almost 73% wanted either more, equal weight or some consideration to be given to the social and environmental impact of those investments, compared with financial returns. 

Just under 74% of respondents said they would have a more negative view of their financial provider if they found out their money was invested in companies which did not meet human and labour rights standards for their workers. In addition, 68% also said they would view their financial service provider more negatively if they knew they were investing in businesses involved in deforestation and damaging the environment. 

The research highlighted attitudes toward banks. It found that people were willing to switch banks if they did not align with their values: 

  • Over half (54 per cent) would be inclined to find a new banking service if they knew their bank was investing in* businesses that failed to meet labour and human rights standards for their workers; 
  • Over a third (38 per cent) of respondents would be likely to change banks if they discovered their bank was investing in companies that use large quantities of fossil fuels. 

By contrast, 32 per cent would be less likely to change banking providers if their bank was investing in companies that are net-zero in their carbon emissions. 

Jeanne Martin, Head of the Banking Programme at ShareAction, commented on the findings: “It’s clear that the public have a strong moral compass when it comes to how their money is being invested. This should be a wake-up call to the financial sector to switch to more responsible investment practices that align with customers’ views and expectations. 

ShareAction is also calling for banks to take full responsibility for the carbon emissions that result from bond deals they facilitate. Banks have been lobbying to water down guidance that would see these ‘facilitated emissions’ included in updated targets set by an industry group, the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials. 

Find out more here.