In focus

‘Gen Xers care more about sustainability than millennials’

People from Generation X – defined as those between 38 and 50 years of age – appear more motivated to invest sustainably than millennials.

New research found 61% of “Generation Xers” always consider sustainability factors when selecting an investment product, compared with 59% of millennials, who are 18 to 37 years old.

Half (50%) of Baby Boomers (51 to 70 years old) said they always considered sustainability factors, while it was 40% for the Silent Generation (over 71 years old). The average for all investors was 57%.

The findings were part of Schroders Global Investor Study (GIS) 2019, which measured the views of more than 25,000 investors in 32 locations around the world. They suggest that while Gen Xers are leading the charge, most investors consider sustainability factors when they invest.

Can my investments make an impact?

The majority of investors said they feel that their individual investments could have a direct impact in contributing to a more sustainable world.

Again, Gen Xers led the way. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of them believed their investments could have a direct impact, compared with 60% of millennials. It was 57% of Baby Boomers and half (50%) for the Silent Generation. The average overall was 60%.

There was also significant demand for all investment funds to consider sustainability factors, commonly described as ESG – environmental, social and governance factors, not just those specifically designed as "sustainable investment funds".

Nearly two-thirds of Gen Xers (65%) agree all investment funds should consider sustainability factors, compared with 60% for millennials.

Perhaps surprisingly, Baby Boomers (62%) wanted it more than millennials. It was 56% for the Silent Generation. The Global average was 61%.

‘Gen Xers’ more motivated to invest sustainably


Source: Schroders Global Investor Study 2019

The study also pointed to concern among Gen X about climate change. More than two-thirds (67%) of Gen Xers feel that climate change is having, or will have, an impact on their investments. That’s more than millennials (64%), Baby Boomers (58%) and the Silent Generation (51%). The global average for all investors is (63%).

Why are Gen Xers bucking the trend?

Jessica Ground, Global Head of Stewardship at Schroders, said:  “It’s been impossible to miss the outcry about climate change from younger generations in the past year. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old campaigner, has led the charge on behalf of Generation Y, making headlines around the world for her protests.

“People might easily assume that it’s always the younger generations who are most concerned about investing sustainably.

“Our research challenges that assumption. Among investors, it is actually Generation X that now shows the most concern.

“Perhaps this is due to the publicity generated by Greta and others, with the parents of that generation taking note. Whatever the reason, there is a whole wave of people in their forties saving hard for their future and for their retirements. Fund managers who are investing on behalf of those investors should take note of their concerns and make sure their money is invested the way they want it to be.”

  • Read more about how sustainability seeks to deliver long-term value in a fast-changing world.

Schroders commissioned Research Plus Ltd to conduct an independent online survey of 25,743 investors in 32 locations throughout the world, with fieldwork held between 4th April – 7th May 2019. This research defines ‘investors’ as people who will be investing at least €10,000 (or the equivalent) in the next 12 months and who have made changes to their investments within the last 10 years; these individuals represent the views of investors in each country included in the survey.

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