Many clients are enthusiastic about responsible investment when they are told what it can offer. They just need help to build understanding, says Sarah Pennells
It is clear that people care about climate change. From reducing energy consumption and recycling to protesting outside Parliament, there is no shortage of will, ambition and action to reduce carbon emissions.
Yet advisers still report that relatively few clients ask how they can invest more responsibly.
What explains this apparent gap? For Sarah Pennells, Consumer Finance Specialist at Royal London, most people do not make the connection between their pension pot and the climate crisis.
This matters, because new research from Royal London shows that once people recognise that their long-term savings can make a difference, the proportion of those who say they would prefer their pension to be invested responsibly jumps from 7% to 57%.
Advisers need to step in to help them join the dots, she says. "For most people, a pension is something they pay into but not something they have an everyday relationship with, as they do with, say, going to the shops."
A real opportunity
The publicity around COP26 raised the profile of environmental, social and governance issues, but also the role of finance and - specifically - pensions in helping to build a better planet. "There is a real opportunity both for advisers and for providers," she says. "People may be thinking slightly differently now."
She adds: "It's about advisers really understanding what their clients want from their money, not just purely in financial terms but in terms of what they want their money to do - for their own standard of living, maybe for their family and for any legacy they leave."