We wanted to find out how the past 12 months had specifically affected people’s ability to save or invest sustainably, as well as their motivations for doing so. After surveying 2,000 people across the UK and digging into the data, here’s what we found.

People want money to be used for positive impact…

Almost two thirds of UK adults feel that individual investors have a responsibility to ensure their money is being used for good, instead of funding harmful practices such as extracting fossil fuels. A similar proportion, 64%, think that people who can afford to invest should choose sustainable investments that help bring about positive change for everyone.

This attitude is even more prevalent in the younger generation, the 18-34 year olds who have come of age under the shadow of the climate crisis. Seven in 10 of this age group say they want their money to help fund projects and companies that only work in sustainable sectors, while 56% say they have become more interested in environmental, social, and corporate governance investing (ESG) over the past year.

…and they want the current banking system to change

Rising energy bills and living costs over the past year have accelerated people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo of the financial system. Nearly three quarters of the UK public (73%) believe we need to collectively invest in long-term solutions to the issues the world is facing – such as investing in renewable energy to bring down energy costs and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Similarly, 75% of people say they are frustrated that big banks continue to make huge profits despite cost of living increases. This rises to 81% for those over the age of 55 - implying that the older generations may be even more concerned.

“There is a striking disconnect for UK consumers between the rising cost of living and decisions being made by banks on what they choose to finance,” explains Roger Hattam, director of retail banking at Triodos Bank UK. “Our biggest high street banks continue to funnel billions into the fossil fuel sector, when it is precisely our dependence on fossil fuels that is driving up our bills, and not to mention causing immeasurable harm to the planet.”

Sustainable investing may be impacted by the cost of living crisis…

As household bills rise, many people admit to feeling that the agency they have over their money has waned. Two-thirds (65%) say they worry that cost of living increases have impacted their ability to use their money for positive change, while more than half admit that making sustainable choices with their money has taken a back seat to prioritising immediate rising costs.

Among those that expect to use an ISA over the tax year 2023-24, only half expect to put about the same aside for their cash savings ISA in the next 12 months compared to the past year. Instead, 30% predict that they will save less, while just 8% expect to put more aside than they did last year.

…and individuals feel that they aren’t able to make a difference 

Misconceptions about not being able to save enough to make a positive impact may be holding many people back from making ethical and sustainable choices with their money.

Six in 10 people believe that they don’t have enough savings or investments for their impact to make a difference, while more than half think you have to be rich to be able to make a positive impact with your money.

“The prevalent myth that you have to be very wealthy to make a difference with your money couldn't be further from the truth,” Roger adds. “Even a small amount in an ISA with a sustainable provider reroutes money from harmful sectors into positive ones, and sends a powerful message to the wider finance industry that enough is enough. It’s through collective action that putting your money into an ISA with a sustainable bank supports a wider ecosystem of green finance that brings about real change.

Important information

Money in any investment product is at risk. The value of an investment may go down as well as up and investors could lose some or all of their money. Currency fluctuations may also affect the value of a Triodos Stocks & Shares ISA. As with all ISAs, the tax benefits depend on individual circumstances, and tax rules may change. The total annual ISA allowance is £20,000, which can be split across different types of ISAs.

None of the information in this article constitutes financial advice. If potential investors are unsure if these investments are right for them, they should contact an Independent Financial Adviser.