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What do ordinary people think about responsible investing?

We asked 10 people whether they knew their pension money was invested, and what they wanted their investments to do. Here's what they said.

One sunny-ish Tuesday at Kings Cross Station, we asked 10 ordinary people questions like this:

  • What if your pension could change the world?
  • Do you know your pension money is invested?
  • Would you take more interest in your pension scheme if you thought it was doing good?

Here are 6 things we learnt, along with quotes of what people actually said.

1. People do not know their pension money is invested

Most thought it was just sitting around somewhere.

‘It’s something you squirrel away for when you’re older. But I don’t know what’s happening with the money, no.’

2. Once they find out, there are 3 things they’re likely to do

These are:

  • assume their money is invested in good stuff that they feel comfortable with
  • hope their money is doing good
  • demand a breakdown of where their money is going

They said they knew where all the rest of their money was going – all the money they spent day-to-day. It felt alien to them that they had no clue where their pension money was going.

3. People care where their money is going – and they want it to do good and be invested responsibly

We asked our interviewees what global problems they’d fix if they could. Some wanted to ban plastic bottles, others to eradicate poverty, some to equal out wealth disparity, and some just to make people happier. When they found out that their pension could help them do some of these things, they were amazed.

‘It would be great if the things that are important to me are reflected in the way my money’s invested.’

4. Many said they would save more if they knew their money was doing good

It was the perfect way to do good without even trying.

‘I don’t even have to leave my house, and I’m doing good regardless.’

5. The demand is there – so tell people where their money’s going and get ready to answer questions

At the beginning of our conversations, 9 out of 10 interviewees thought they had no say in where their money was going. But by the end, they wanted to find out where their money was, and whether they could do anything about it.

For help telling people where their money’s going, read our ultimate guide to responsible investment communication.

6. Some people can already give an amazing definition of responsible investing

This bit didn’t make the video, but several interviewees gave excellent definitions just off the cuff. Here’s the best one, from someone who 10 minutes earlier didn’t even know her pension was invested.

‘Responsible investing means to me that I’ll be investing in companies and organisations that are going to try and build a better future for us, our countries, our families, our future generations and the entire world.’

Please share this video with any trustees you know who are thinking about responsible investing (or should be), anyone who thinks there’s no public demand for responsible investing, or just any colleagues, friends, families and pets with 4 minutes to spare.