Research

Pension savers given a voice on ESG issues

Person sitting at table with a laptop open in front of them
  • Over half (55%) of consumers don’t know where their pension is invested1
  • 63% believe pension companies need to be more environmentally transparent in where they invest their pensions
  • 71% say they want the highest return on their investment

New research by Aviva, finds that almost two-thirds of consumers (63%) who have savings, investments, a pension, or an annuity, want pension companies to be more environmentally transparent in where they invest their pensions. 

Almost one in five (18%) placed highest importance on financial services companies ensuring their investments have a positive impact on society over the long term. However, over half (55%) of those surveyed didn’t know where their money was invested. 

Other research by Aviva2 (Table 1) shows there has been a clear shift in attitudes over the last four years with fears about climate change having doubled to become the second biggest global concern last year behind, somewhat unsurprisingly, disease and pandemics.

Table 1: Ipsos / Aviva Consumer Attitudes Survey

Global Concerns

March 2016

July 2020

Disease & Pandemics 15% 50%
Climate Change 19% 42%
Crime 29% 39%
Poverty and social inequality n/a 36%
Terrorism 46% 36%
Pollution 15% 34%
Decline in social standards 30% 31%
Global financial crises / market instability 21% 29%
Use of personal data 28% 27%
Identity / cyberfraud / cyber attacks 24% 26%
War / Civil Unrest 22% 23%

House & personal security

21% 21%
Natural disasters 11% 18%
Lack of natural resources 11% 16%
Globalisation n/a 9%

However when speaking to adults with savings, investments, a pension, or an annuity, the majority (71%) agreed that they just want the highest return on their investment. Even among those who hold a responsible investment, two fifths (40%) do so because they believe they will get a better return in the long-run. 

Laura Stewart-Smith, Head of Workplace Savings & Retirement at Aviva, said: “We find over 90% of people saving for their retirement are ‘pension apathetic’, just using the default fund for their investment. It’s therefore critical that pension providers continually seek to evolve to help ensure consumers know how to invest in a world we all want to retire into.”

Aviva is piloting an investor opinion tool with fintech start-up Tumelo and a selection of workplace pension customers. Tumelo’s platform helps individual pension members to see which companies their pension is invested into and to have a voice on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues these companies are facing. 

Through our partnership with Tumelo, we’re hoping to give our workplace pension members greater transparency over where their pensions are invested while empowering them to play an active part in the engagement and voting approach to investing
Laura Stewart-Smith, Head of Workplace Savings & Retirement at Aviva

A selection of pension savers whose workplace pension scheme is with Aviva have the option to voice their opinion on issues such as climate change, gender equality, human rights, chemical pollution, and political lobbying ahead of the companies’ Annual General Meetings (AGMs). 

Their opinions are collected through the platform, anonymised, and sent back to the fund manager, which incorporates them into its decision-making framework. The real-world impact is then reported back to members once the AGM has passed. 

Laura continued: “Our research shows pension savers want their investments to have a positive impact on the world. 

"Through our partnership with Tumelo, we’re hoping to give our workplace pension members greater transparency over where their pensions are invested while empowering them to play an active part in the engagement and voting approach to investing. By doing so, pension savers are being given collective power to influence some of the biggest organisations in the world into making more responsible decisions.

“We’re also bringing more funds to members which will give them the power to choose whether they use their savings to drive the transition to a low carbon economy, minimise their investment in polluting industries or help have a positive impact on the planet. 

"And for those who want us to make it even easier for them, we are working towards making our default options Net Zero as well.”

Georgia Stewart, Chief Executive Officer at Tumelo, said: “We are delighted to be working with Aviva in helping to give their workplace pension customers transparency and a voice. By harnessing the prominence of well-known brands and real-life ESG issues, Tumelo’s platform is reforming how customers engage with their investments. Investing is the most powerful, yet most underappreciated, way for most individuals to have a positive impact on their future. 

"By re-connecting individuals with their savings and working closely with the experts who steward these funds, we are aiming to improve individual financial outcomes and build a better world for all of us.”

  • In March 2021, Aviva announced a new plan to become a Net Zero carbon emissions company by 2040. As part of its plan, Aviva announced it expected to invest a further £10bn of assets from its auto-enrolment default funds and other policyholder funds into low carbon strategies (of which £5bn has already been announced)3.
  • The Aviva default fund ‘My Future Focus’ offers a very broad and diversified range of asset classes, active asset allocation and fully integrates ESG factors into its design and management4.
  • In 2019, Aviva launched the option for clients to select the Aviva ‘Stewardship lifestyle strategy’ - a workplace pension default investment strategy that incorporates ethical and ESG considerations5

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1 Unless stated otherwise, research was carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Aviva. It surveyed a nationally representative quota sample of 1,498 adults in the United Kingdom aged 18-75 using its online I:Omnibus between 09 and 10 December 2020. 1,111 respondents were identified as having savings, investments, a pension, or annuity. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age, government office region, working status and social grade in the UK, within gender.
2 The Aviva Consumer Attitudes Survey was carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Aviva. It surveyed a nationally representative quota sample of 1,107 adults in the United Kingdom aged 18-75 using its online I:Omnibus between 24 and 27 July 2020 and 1,000 adults between 15th-30th March 2016. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age, government office region, working status and social grade in the UK, within gender.
Mar 2021: https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2021/03/aviva-becomes-the-first-major-insurer-worldwide-to-target-Net-Zero-carbon-by-2040/
Dec 2020: Aviva Master Trust adopts integrated ESG default strategy
Jul 2019: New workplace pension incorporates ethical and ESG considerations

Media enquiries

Katy Hurren

Retirement

About Tumelo

  • Tumelo is an impact-focused financial technology firm.
  • We empower investment providers to give their customers transparency over the companies they are invested in and a voice on issues that matter, like climate change, human rights, and gender equality.
  • Our solution is delivered via APIs and/or a white-label user-facing platform. Our software connects with investment platforms and pension schemes to create a seamless user experience, improving customer engagement, insight, acquisition, and retention.
  • We work closely with fund management and stewardship teams so that the voice of underlying customers is represented in decision-making and considered during strategic or product development initiatives.
  • Go to our website - www.tumelo.com - to find out more or email hello@tumelo.com to request a demo.
  • Contact Kerra Pringle on press@tumelo.com for press enquiries. 

Notes to editors:

  • For information on how Aviva is helping our people, customers and communities impacted by COVID-19 visit: www.aviva.com/covid-19-our-response/
  • We exist to be with people when it really matters, throughout their lives – to help them make the most of life. We have been taking care of people for more than 320 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’.
  • In 2020, we paid £30.6 billion in claims and benefits to our customers. 
  • Aviva is invested in our people, our customers, our communities and our planet. In 2021, we announced our plan to become a Net Zero carbon emissions company by 2040, the most demanding target of any major insurance company in the world. This plan means Net Zero carbon emissions from our investments by 2040; setting out a clear pathway to get there with a cut of 25% in the carbon intensity of our investments by 2025 and of 60% by 2030; and Net Zero carbon emissions from our own operations and supply chain by 2030. Aviva has been leading this agenda for decades: Aviva was the first international insurer to go operationally carbon neutral in 2006 and we are champions of renewable energy and energy storage at our offices, allowing us to achieve our 2030 carbon reduction target (70% reduction on 2010 levels) 10 years early. Find out more about our climate goals at www.aviva.com/climate-goals and our sustainability ambition at www.aviva.com/sustainability.
  • Aviva is a Living Wage and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at www.aviva.com/social-purpose
  • We are focused on the UK, Ireland and Canada where we have leading market positions and significant potential. We will invest for growth in these markets. Our international businesses in Europe and Asia will be managed for long-term shareholder value. We will also transform our performance and improve our efficiency. Our transformation will be underpinned by managing our balance sheet prudently, reducing debt and increasing our financial resilience.
  • Total group assets under management at Aviva group are £535 billion and our Solvency II capital surplus is £13.0 billion (FY20). Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
  • For more details on what we do, our business and how we help our customers, visit www.aviva.com/about-us
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