- 79% of investors remained focused on sustainable investing
during the COVID-19 pandemic
- 99% of Millennials were interested in sustainable investing, an
Four in five U.S. individual investors remained focused on
sustainable investing during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an
all-time high of 99% interested among Millennials, according to a
new survey published today by the Morgan Stanley Institute for
Sustainable Investing. The fourth edition of the individual
investor survey, Sustainable Signals, was released today at the
2021 Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Summit featuring a roster
of leaders including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, former
Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, and Pfizer CEO Dr.
Albert Bourla. The report examines the attitudes, perceptions and
behaviors of individual investors with respect to sustainable
investing. Following three prior Sustainable Signals individual
investor surveys, the findings show that interest and adoption of
sustainable investing has grown significantly since 2015 and
reached mainstream adoption among the average investor.
“Interest in sustainable investing has grown tremendously in
recent years, and our research shows that this interest persisted
despite the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting market volatility,”
said Audrey Choi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Morgan Stanley.
“This suggests that interest in sustainable investing is here for
the long-run, and investment professionals would be well-served by
incorporating it into their practices to yield potentially
attractive financial returns, alongside positive environmental and
Results from the survey reveal four central themes:
- 2020’s turbulence impacted sustainable investing; overall
interest dipped by 6 percentage points to 79% from 85% in 2019,
amid economic concerns during the pandemic.
- Public health and support for small businesses surged among
investors’ thematic priorities with 61% expressing ‘more interest
in the topics due to COVID-19.’
- Climate change remains a top focus, especially for Millennials
and investors with a positive economic outlook.
- Eighty-eight percent of Millennials and 93% of individual
investors who believe the economy is strong, expressed interest in
climate-themed investments, compared with 74% of all
- Amid rising concern about climate change, 60% of investors are
equally interested in solutions that mitigate greenhouse gas
emissions and support climate adaptation.
- Questions about sustainable investment performance persist.
- More individual investors now believe sustainable investing
requires a financial trade-off (70%) than in 2019 (64%), despite
growing evidence to the contrary.
- Opportunities exist to better support individuals on their
sustainable investing journeys.
- Performance concerns are the biggest barrier investors cite
(76%) to investing sustainably.
- Only a slight majority of investors (56%) say their advisors
have asked about investment goals outside of financial
“The pandemic underscores the relevance of ESG considerations to
corporate performance and encourages investors to focus on long
term goals, including a new emphasis on public health and racial
justice, in addition to environmental matters,” said Matthew
Slovik, Managing Director and Head of Global Sustainable Finance,
The survey polled 800 U.S. Individual Investors with minimum
investable assets of $100,000. The survey also included an
oversample of 203 Millennials, aged 25-38. This fourth edition of
the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Signals individual investor survey
further builds our body of insight and analysis and helps informs
our efforts to promote sustainable investing
View the full results of the Sustainable Signals survey
About The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable
The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing builds
scalable finance solutions that seek to deliver competitive
financial returns while driving positive environmental and social
impact. The Institute creates innovative financial products,
thoughtful insights and capacity building programs that help
maximize capital to create a more sustainable future. For more
information about the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable
Investing, visit www.morganstanley.com/sustainableinvesting.
About Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services
firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management
and investment management services. With offices in more than 41
countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including
corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. For more
information about Morgan Stanley, please visit
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