ESG Investing amongst Millennials

“Embedding environmental, social and governance factors into capital markets makes good business sense, and leads to more sustainable markets and better outcomes for societies.”

According to ADEC Innovations, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing refers to a class of investing that is also known as “sustainable investing.” This is an umbrella term for investments that seek positive returns and long-term impact on society, environment and the performance of the business. There are several different categories of sustainable investing. They include impact investing, socially responsible investing (SRI), ESG and value-based investing.

The Rise of ESG Investing amongst high-net-worth millennials (and why they matter)

An estimated of 82% of the world’s high-net worth individuals — those who have at least US$1 million in investable assets (excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables) — are under the age of 40 ( Capgemini). According to Dave Nadig of “We’re in the middle of a $30 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer from baby boomers to their children. And these kids — not millennials only, but people from 25 to 40 years old — simply think about their investment decisions differently.” Millennials shouldn’t be underestimated as a relevant target group because they represent 79.4 million people in the US alone (and immigration could lead to an increase to 81 million by 2036), according to Steve Chiavorone. This group is set to inherit a significant amount of wealth ( $30 trillion in the US — to be exact!).

Some interesting stats around Millennials and ESG Investing

According to Morgan Stanley’s Sustainable Signals Report published in 2019:

  1. More than 8 out of 10 individual investors believe that corporate ESG practises can potentially lead to higher profitability and may be better long-term investments
  2. 90% of millennials want to tailor their investments to their values
  3. Interest in sustainable investing among millennial investors increased from 84% in 2015 to 95% in 2019

Other interesting insights:

  1. According to the Schroder’s Global Investor Study 2020, it’s millennials who are leading the shift towards more sustainable investment
  2. In a survey by Natixis, three-quarters of the millennials asked say it is important for their investments to do social good
  3. In the U.S., 60 percent of millennials find impact investing appealing compared to the UK at 64 percent. By comparison, 45 percent of millennials in Germany find the concept of impact investing important, citing a global study in 2020 by American Century Investments

Why has there been a rise in ESG Investing amongst Millennials?

Firstly, ESG investing was hugely accelerated in 2013 / 2014, when the first academic studies were published showing that good corporate sustainability performance is associated with good financial results. Academics such as George Serfeim, Bob Eccles, and Ioannis Ioannou showed the importance of ESG information for assessing corporate risks, strategies and operational performance.

According to Impactive, the rise in interest in ESG investing amongst Millennials is a result of the following:

  1. Millennials are more socially and environmentally conscious than previous generations
  2. They expect transparency and are used to doing their research
  3. They’re about to have a lot of money to invest: According to Accenture, millennials are set to receive a collective $30 trillion in assets from their baby boomer parents in the next few decades


Despite the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials are still optimistic about their investment returns and they are driving forward the rise of ESG investing, this are two of the findings of the Schroder’s Global Investor report. Millennials are interested in ESG factors and want their investments to align to their personal values, as well as contribute to social good. It’s important to note the investment behaviour of millennials given that in the US, they are set to inherit around $30 trillion from their baby boomer parents. Given that asset management firms typically lose 70% to 80% of assets when transferred from one generation to the next, wealth and asset managers supplying millennials with investment options will be strongly positioned to attract new ESG investment options in order to retain their new millennial clients.

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Originally published at on April 1, 2021.

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