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Majority of investors are unhappy with unethical investing

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A 4.5 tonnes, 40 feet in length and 9.5 feet high Abundance pink box installation at Canary Wharf today marks the launch of a new campaign, Consequences, from the ethical investment platform, Abundance.

Their third annual ‘Great British Money Survey’ reveals 70 per cent of people would be unhappy if they discovered their money was being invested in unethical businesses. The report says: “More people think that corporate tax avoidance is an unethical business activity than pornography or selling arms, a stark fact when 98 per cent of the FTSE 100 engage in some form of tax avoidance as part of their normal business.”  
 
The report, entitled “Consequences: possibly the least used word in the investment world”, also highlights that despite this significant trend in public attitudes, CEOs and boards of large businesses are – as yet – doing virtually nothing to respond. 
 
 Key findings from the survey include that 70 per cent want to invest in things that give good returns and don’t harm their future; 70 per cent would be unhappy if they discovered their money was invested in unethical businesses; 65 per cent consider corporate tax avoidance unethical, second only to child labour and human rights abuses, yet 98 per cent of FTSE100 engage in tax avoidance.
 
Some 66 per cent agree that investments in fossil fuels are getting more risky and 59 per cent would view an organisation that had committed to divest from fossil fuels more favourably, while 36 per cent think fracking is an unethical activity.
 
Of those surveyed, 70 per cent want to be in control of where their money is invested and choose exactly where it goes and only 35 per cent of people think their bank is transparent about where their money is invested.
 
Bruce Davis, cofounder and joint MD of Abundance says, “When does the desire to make a profit overcome your desire to do the right thing? For most of us, there are a series of red lines which we are unwilling to cross in the pursuit of profit when we invest our money. These latest research findings are very clear on this; the majority of us would be unhappy if our money was invested in a range of unethical activities, from tax avoidance to child labour, pornography to fossil fuel extraction.”
 
He continues: “And yet, CEOs and boards of our top companies have been slow to respond to their customers’ ethical concerns, preferring to tell themselves that ‘most people’ would prioritise a financial return over ethical consequences. Our findings prove that the opposite is true when it comes to those who are the actual owners of these companies’ shares through our collective multi trillion pound pension and ISA investments.”
 
 However, he takes heart from signs of improvement. “With a few major companies now making moves to actually pay tax in the UK, while others divest from fossil fuel investments, there are signs that some business leaders are tuning into the ethics of the public. But the gap remains vast – there is a long way to go before big business reflects the ethics of the public it serves and the people whose investments own much of it.”      
 

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