An AXA survey confirms that there is demand for sustainable investments, especially among young people and women.
Which sectors should pension assets be invested in, and which are to be avoided at all costs? AXA asked around 1,000 people in Switzerland for their opinion.
In the survey, 55% of women and 53% of men in Switzerland expressed an interest in having their pension assets invested sustainably.
Just like last year, demand is particularly strong among 18-29-year-olds and highly educated people.
Respondents who attach importance to investing sustainably are most interested in saving natural resources, renewable energy, biodiversity/nature conservation, sustainable farming, and climate protection.
They take a particularly critical view of investments linked to child labor, controversial weapons, human rights violations, palm oil, and coal mining, as was the case last year. They see avoiding these kinds of investments as especially important when it comes to choosing a pension fund.
Another striking result of the survey is that, taken across all topics, women have stronger opinions than men. For example, they're more opposed to controversial investments and more outspoken in their support for sustainability issues.
"I'm convinced that a lot of people care about sustainable investing, and this trend is set to become more pronounced in the coming years," says Daniel Gussmann, Chief Investment Officer at AXA Switzerland.
Responsibility for sustainable investing is most commonly seen as being shared between the State, financial institutions, and investors (40%), followed by financial institutions alone. A large proportion of respondents thus see financial institutions as having sole or joint responsibility in this respect.
"At AXA, we firmly believe that the financial industry in general and insurers in particular have a key role to play in dealing with the climate crisis, and that they can and must contribute substantially to preserving biodiversity and solving society's problems," says Gussmann.
He continues: "Besides offering contemporary solutions that can gain acceptance on the market and factoring sustainability criteria into our investment decisions, we can also achieve a lot behind the scenes. For instance, we lobby in favor of sustainable investment as part of cross-sector associations and initiatives. As an investor, we also influence companies to step up their sustainability efforts by voting at their AGMs and engaging in dialog with their decision-making bodies.
According to the survey, the population at large is still only moderately confident that investments labeled as sustainable really live up to the claim.
Daniel Gussmann: "A lack of faith is ultimately detrimental to the main goal of promoting sustainable investments. We must therefore make every effort to be as transparent as possible. AXA does this, for example, with its annual Climate & Biodiversity Report. Beyond company-specific initiatives, however, universal standards need to be set that apply across all sectors. This has worked in other areas, and I think it's only a matter of time before the same applies to sustainable investments. At any rate, financial service providers and pension funds have to face up to the challenge of meeting customers' expectations in terms of sustainability through their investment strategies while also being more transparent as regards exactly how they embed sustainability criteria in their investments."
While there are still no uniform standards or labels for sustainable investments, there are at least some independent ratings, including those from MSCI, a global provider of sustainability analysis and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings.
MSCI ESG Research has awarded AXA an AAA rating with a score of ten out of ten for sustainable investment.
About the survey
AXA Switzerland commissioned the representative online survey, which was conducted from March 11 to 18, 2022. Some 1,014 people aged between 18 and 65 in German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland took part.