Investors in their mid-40s and younger increasingly are putting their money in funds and companies that demonstrate social responsibility, according to a new study from Swell Investing, a project of the Pacific Life Insurance company.
The study found that 78 percent of Millennials – born between 1981 and 1997 – look for investments that offer a social return as well as a financial one. About 84 percent of post-Millennials are either investing, or plan to invest, with a social goal in mind.
Social media has made these budding financiers keenly aware of social issues and keeps them connected to news related to corporate behavior, the study finds – and 72 percent of those surveyed believe that investments have the power to change corporate behavior around climate stewardship and other concerns.
The study drew information and views from about 2,000 young investors, more than 1,400 of which already have money in the markets.
The Swell study shows that “socially responsible investing”, a trend that began in the 1980s, has reached a tipping point: to attract and hold the next generation of investors as well as consumers, companies are adopting causes as a key part of their marketing. Pampers, the diaper purveyor, has partnered with UNICEF and funds tetanus vaccinations in developing countries; Starbucks tithes to AIDS prevention and care; Tesla was created to reduce transportation’s carbon footprint.
More broadly, this trend has the power to redefine the purpose of business – from being only an economic engine creating jobs and wealth to being a key force for social change, directed by its customers and investors.