Survey: Rich Chinese turn to sustainable investments

Wealthy Chinese are leading the way as affluent or well-off regional investors turn to sustainable companies, according to a new report.

It found sustainable investments comprise 19 per cent of the portfolios of this group. The survey covered 416 wealthy individuals living in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and India, with at least US$1 million (S$1.35 million) in investments.

Most respondents in China have allocated between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of their funds to sustainable investments, noted the Standard Chartered Private Bank survey.

Value-seekers, defined by StanChart as those who have invested in sustainable investments but hold some misconceptions, remain the dominant sustainable investor type.

StanChart noted a new category of "aspirants" - investors who claim to be engaged in sustainable investing, but have not yet started.

Among other things, the study revealed that investors' knowledge of sustainable investing continues to improve. In Asia, almost 30 per cent of investors can correctly define it, up from 20 per cent last year.

Singapore continues to have the highest number of well-off investors (43 per cent) in Asia who are knowledgeable about sustainable investing, a similar level to last year.

The knowledge level in China is up 5 percentage points to 18 per cent and 15 points higher in Hong Kong to 27 per cent, StanChart said.

The top motivations for wealthy investors were to "create a better future", followed by "doing good while earning a profit".

Despite the willingness to engage in sustainable investing, there remain some barriers holding investors back, StanChart noted.

In Asia, 41 per cent of those who are not involved in sustainable investing cited a "lack of information" about the opportunities.

Mr Didier von Daeniken, global head of private banking and wealth management at StanChart, said: "It is encouraging to know that investors have more access to information on sustainable investing.

"Nonetheless, some misconceptions still exist and this is where banks play a crucial role to educate and help investors overcome their barriers to investing for impact."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'Survey: Rich Chinese turn to sustainable investments'. Print Edition | Subscribe