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Companies Targeting Environmental Goals Get Fat Investments from Millennials

Sustainable behavior in the consumer space and a younger generation of investors that believes their investment decisions can make an impact are driving an interest in sustainable investing – that is, investing in companies targeting social or environmental goals – according to a new report from Morgan Stanley. In fact, 61% of Millennials have taken at least one sustainability oriented investment action in the last year, the report found.

Over the last two years, interest in sustainable investing has grown. The idea continues to draw strong support, and familiarity with it only appears to be spreading, Morgan Stanley says. Investors largely believe that their portfolios can have substantive social and environmental impact. Sustainable, responsible and impact investing rose 33% between 2014-2016 to $8.72 trillion and, as long as the need for such impact remains, it is likely that investor interest will keep rising.

Millennials Lead the Charge
More investors are at least somewhat interested in sustainable investing and adopting its principles as part of their strategy, but Millennials are leading the way, according to the report. As with the previous report in 2015, this latest survey of 1,000 total active individual investors tracked both how investors perceive sustainable investing and whether they are acting on that interest.
Findings from the report:
  • 75% of Millennials say their investments can influence climate change;
  • 84% of Millennials say their investments can help lift people out of poverty;
  • Millennials “are twice as likely as the overall pool to invest in companies or funds that target social or environmental outcomes;”
  • More than half (53%) of investors believe sustainable investing requires a financial trade-off.
Too Good to Be True? Nope

Can investments in sustainably driven companies actually be profitable, though? “There’s a natural inclination to think impact investing is too good to be true,” Amit Bouri, cofounder and chief executive officer of the Global Impact Investing Network, told Business Insider. While investors have a hard time believing they can invest in a sustainable way and still make money, research shows that “risk adjusted rates of return are achievable. We compared sustainable funds to convention funds and the opportunities are in line with the norm,” Bouri said.

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