Newton Investment Management's Head of Responsible Investing on Engaging with Social Finance| Tuesday, November 17, 2015 – 9:00am

“Generation Lost: Engaging Millennials with Retirement Saving” is a new study by BNY Mellon and Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge that surveyed 1,253 millennials between July and September this year. In this extract from the study, Sandra Carlisle, head of Responsible Investment at Newton Investment Management, talks about the need for organizations to engage with Social Finance. Newton Investment Management is a BNY Mellon investment boutique.

Historically trustees have decided the types of assets in which pension contributions are invested. The trend towards increasingly personalised defined contribution (DC) pensions means individuals will play a greater role here going forward. When Millennials realise there is nobody acting in a fiduciary capacity on their behalf they may well take matters into their own hands and move their money to providers that address their concerns over sustainability, social responsibility and ethics.

It may be the case that today Millennials’ words of support for socially oriented investing are not matched by their actions. Take-up of Social Finance remains low. But that is not to say that this will always be the case. What is not front of mind for Millennials today could very well become front of mind tomorrow, and this research clearly shows these issues are on the agenda.

Capital will be more mobile in the future and that historic inertia that has helped life insurers, banks and other financial services providers in the past will no longer be as powerful. So if traditional providers do not do more, by moving their SRI propositions from the back of the offering to the front, and engaging with Social Finance, they may find they have been left behind.

Engaging with Social Finance is not straightforward for big organisations – it tends to be illiquid, can be risky and faces capacity constraints. But providers should be asking themselves questions such as how they could package a solution with some Social Finance element held within it, what sort of wrapper would be around it and what could be done to give the investor more security.

Many things that are now the norm were once very niche. Providers need to listen to what their next generation of customers is saying to them about Social Finance if they do not want to lose them. Once they are gone, it will be very hard to win them back.

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