British public keen for their wealth to have a positive impact on society, favour projects that are local and social, but do not feel they know enough about investing positively

  • 51% of eligible population (19.5 million) is investing positively, or interested in doing so
  • Half do not feel they know enough about positive savings and investments
  • Under 40s most interested, with highest belief in impact of positive investment
  • 58% want positive investment to have an impact in their local area
  • Improving health and social care and old age support top concerns

New research by Ethex, the positive savings and investment platform that makes it easy to make money do good, shows that more than half of the eligible UK population is keen to make positive investments, but a lack of knowledge, understanding and confidence in what is on offer is holding them back. 

It also reveals that those under 40 are the most motivated to positively invest and have the highest belief in the impact it can have. In terms of areas of concern, people are looking for their savings to improve health and social care and old age support in their local area.

The ‘Understanding the Positive Investor’, research shows that the majority (51% or 19.5 million) of people are either already saving and investing positively (20%), or are interested in doing so (31%), demonstrating a large unmet demand in society.

An urgent need for education

The research highlights that there is an urgent need for the industry to provide more information and better education about these kinds of investments. 50% of those asked did not feel they know enough about positive investment and savings, although 45% were willing to learn more.

In addition, over a third (39%) did not know whether to expect a stronger or weaker financial return from positive investments when compared to traditional ones and 55% did not think they were wealthy enough to make positive investments.

While people under 40 were the most interested, those who currently invest positively are significantly older and wealthier, suggesting that positive investment is currently only reaching a select group of society.

Demand for local, social and simple products

When it comes to the kind of projects people are interested in supporting, positive investments that improve health and social care (31%) and old age support (26%) are most popular. The majority (58%) would also prefer positive investment to have an impact in their local area.

Savers want simpler, accessible positive investment products with 44% expressing interest in taking out or switching to a positive savings account, 43% a current account and 40% an ISA.

Lisa Ashford, Director and CEO of Ethex, comments: “Consumers are increasingly looking to buy and use products that align with their personal values and it is no different when it comes to savings and investment. People are also waking up to the fact that it is possible to use their personal wealth to both make money and benefit society.

“Our research clearly demonstrates that interest in positive investment in the UK is high, with those under 40 particularly engaged. However, there is also much confusion and misunderstanding around investing positively. Providers of these products have a lot of work to do in educating people, as well as meeting the growing demand for positive investment products.

“By offering a wider range of more accessible products, positive investment can be opened up to enable more people to tackle the local issues that matter to them the most. This will help change positive investment from a minority pursuit to a mainstream one and by doing so deliver on the benefits that investing in this way can bring.”

Camilla Parke, Strategy and Market Development Associate at Big Society Capital, adds: “This research indicates there is real unmet demand for individuals to use their savings and investments to address the issues they care about. At Big Society Capital, we believe this investment could have a significant impact on the organisations working to solve some of the most pressing challenges society faces. Platforms like Ethex are already making this possible. There is more to do to bridge the gap from intention to action – particularly by tapping in to the energy of the next generation of positive investors. Raising awareness and providing simple, accessible products are key parts of the solution to building a mass market of positive investors”


This research report was commissioned by Ethex – the positive savings and investment platform and carried out by IFF Research Autumn / Winter 2016, sampling almost 3,975 people. Funding for this project was provided by the Social Investment Research Council and additional research support and input was provided by Triodos Bank, the Community Shares Unit, Oikocredit and Allia.

The work was conducted in two phases. The first phase was an online survey of existing positive savers and investors to understand their motivations and behaviours and to identify the characteristics of different types of positive investors. The second phase was an online survey of a nationally representative sample of consumers over 18 years of age and who have some financial wealth, controlled by age, gender, region and social grade, to identify the incidence of different types of positive savers and investors in the UK population.

About Ethex

Ethex brings together on one platform the best positive savings and investment opportunities to make it easy to make money do good. On the platform, you can browse, compare and invest in a range of products from bank accounts and ISAs to equity investments and charity bonds that offer a social and environmental as well as a financial return. Since 2013, Ethex has helped raise over £53 million of investment into 55 social businesses, charities and community organisations.  | 01865 403304 |