Millions of people are investing in unethical firms

11 October 2013

Millions of people are unaware they have invested their pensions and savings in companies they are ethically opposed to, according to a survey by Triodos Bank.

As many as 70% of investors hold assets they are ethically against, with only a fifth of investors aware of how ethical their investments are.

Two-thirds (68%) of those with personal pensions as well as stocks and shares Isas, have little or no awareness of whether their investments are ethical, according to the report. Of those with self-invested personal pensions (Sipps), more than half (53%) said they were unaware what their money was invested in.

Huw Davies, head of personal banking at Triodos Bank, said: "Many of us will have a pension or some stockmarket investment and not realise that a proportion of our portfolio may be invested in those sectors we find personally distasteful."

Simon Howard, chief executive of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), added: "Millions of people do not realise that their pensions and savings support companies which are contributing to climate change, depleting scarce resources and exploiting cheap labour.

"Businesses whose activities contribute to environmental and social problems face a range of risks, from government regulation to consumer boycotts which could see them lose value in the future."

So how can you find out what companies your money is invested in?

  • Look at the fund factsheet. Mike Appleby, investment manager at Alliance Trust Investments, explains: "Ethical, or SRI, funds should have a clear statement about their policy on the main issues of usual concern to investors.

"Some funds are more transparent about what they own and what they disclose in terms of their views on controversial issues. If it is important for you be sure to pick funds that are transparent and disclose this information."

  • Speak to a ‘green’ IFA. Specialists will be able to look into all of your investments and tell you if they match your ethics and views.

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