Investment manager Nuveen today released the results of its Fifth Annual Responsible Investing Survey. For the first time since the survey’s inception a majority of respondents reported superior investment returns as motivation for choosing responsible investments, marking a significant milestone in sustainable investing. Nuveen surveyed surveyed over 1,000 high net worth investors and hundreds of financial advisors for the study.

Results from the survey include the following findings:

  • 53% of respondents cited better performance for prompting them to choose responsible investments.
  • 61% of investors report that making a positive impact on society is a high priority.
  • 85% of investors will only invest responsibly if the returns are the same or better.
  • 70% of advisors list better performance and superior risk management as the top drivers of high net worth investors into responsible investments. This compares to only 39% making the same claim in 2018.
  • 32% of advisors say that client portfolios with RI achieved  above market-rate returns in the past year. In the 2017 survey, only 4% reported this.
  • 68% of advisors say that clients who incorporate responsible investing in their portfolios outperform clients who do not use this strategy.
  • Familiarity with responsible investing is growing rapidly, with 53% of advisors claiming to be familiar with responsible investing, compared to only 27% last year.
  • 83% of investors agree that advisors who discuss responsible investing are more forward thinking.
  • Advisors increasingly raise the topic of responsible investing, with 65% discussing it in client meetings vs 41% in 2017.
  • 56% of investors want their advisors to be more active in guiding them to investing with a positive impact.

For full results, please click here to see Nuveen’s complete survey report.

Nuveen’s survey results indicating increasing demand for responsible investing echo many of the recent comments and findings of investment managers. Flows into ESG funds across the industry have been strong in recent years, and many managers report that they have remained particularly robust relative to other asset classes since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, with ESG strategies often outperforming during this period.

Commenting on the results of the survey, and on evolving investor attitudes toward sustainable investing Amy O’Brien, Global Head of Responsible Investing at Nuveen, said:

“The global pandemic and recent social unrest have further underscored the desire of many to make a difference. Investing with a responsible approach has become a preferred method to concretely address important issues, such as social justice, climate change and fairness in the workplace. Investors increasingly understand that promoting positive outcomes on important ESG issues, not only minimizes portfolio risks, it actually leads to improved performance overall.”