Social Impact Investing: Behavioural and Attitudinal Study

January 28, 2021


Globally recognised expert in applied decision science, behavioural finance, and financial wellbeing, as well as a specialist in both the theory and practice of risk profiling. He started the banking world’s first behavioural finance team as Head of Behavioural-Quant Finance at Barclays, which he built and led for a decade from 2006.

Key points

  • The biggest barrier to social impact investing is low awareness of its opportunities to align investment goals with social goals.
  • Some investors prefer to consciously trade-off social good and financial outcomes, thereby 'buying' the maximum social good with their wealth.
  • Communications should focus on making investors more comfortable with social impact investing, including reducing the perceptions of the barriers associated with it.

Growing a Culture of Social Impact Investing in the UK

A new independent review sets out how government and the financial services industry can work together to build a culture of social impact investment in the UK.

I am very pleased, through Centapse, to have conducted the extensive behavioural and attitudinal research that underpins the enhanced understanding of how to better engage consumers in impact investing that forms a key part of this report.

The report, Growing a Culture of Social Impact Investing in the UK, outlines key recommendations to help grow the number of social impact investors across the country and ensure financial providers help people support the issues they care about through their savings and investment choices. The Advisory Group found there is a growing interest among individuals for their investments to have a positive impact on society, as well as produce financial returns. However the social impact investing market remains underdeveloped.

The Centapse research report contains key findings from the research (conducted on a representative sample of 1,000 individuals across the UK), as well as detailed behavioural data analysis, and an overview of the research methodology.


The research examines:

  • Consumer interest in, and attitudes to, impact investing (building on previous work on these themes).
  • How to better engage with consumers on impact investing and what narratives and messages resonate most with them.
  • How people think about social causes and the notion of 'doing social good' – including, in particular, novel data on individual consumer responses and attitudes towards the UN Social Development Goals.
  • An attitudinal segmentation (cluster analysis on underlying attitudinal factors) of UK consumers, demonstrating common bundles of attitudes towards impact investing, and how to best communicate with each group.

Key messages from the behavioural research are:

  1. The single biggest issue is lack of awareness: first priority is to increase broad awareness of social impact investing, particularly in consumer groups identified in the research as most likely to be responsive.
  2. Draw attention to the potential for investors to align their investment goals to their values and achieve meaningful impact at same time-this is poorly understood (focussing on accessible examples and case studies).
  3. For certain target groups (of individual investors), particular those already most interested in impact investing, recognise the potential for them to consciously trade-off social good and financial outcomes, thereby 'buying' the maximum social good with their wealth.
  4. Put general communications effort into making investors more comfortable with the notion of impact investing, and decreasing general perceptions of financial barriers to it.

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