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Singapore warms to impact investing while US interest cools
Men more concerned about climate change while healthcare matters most for women in city-state
Tom King 20 Feb 2023

Retail investors in Singapore are more likely to be interested in impact investing than their peers in other developed markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, according to a new report.

This is the first time the study by independent investment management firm American Century Investments has included respondents from Singapore. Results were weighted by age, sex, geographical region, race, and education. The firm boasts US$218 billion in assets under management.

When asked if they find impact investing appealing, respondents from Singapore took the top spot with 69% of those surveyed answering in the affirmative. That compares with 65% in the UK, 63% in Australia, 56% in the US, and just 51% in Germany.

“The totality of our impact investing surveys shows the appeal has increased over the years across nations,” shares Sarah Bratton Hughes, the firm’s head of ESG and sustainable investing.

“This isn’t surprising, because the long-term drivers for sustainable investing remain strong, and that reaches all populations,” she adds.

The US is the only country where interest in impact investing has gone backwards, falling five points since 2021, the study finds. In Germany, interest rose 14 points over the year; in Australia, it rose six points; and in the UK, it was up by two points.

Climate concern

The environment/climate change is the cause that matters most to Singaporean investors at 23% of the respondents, while healthcare/ disease prevention and cure comes in second at 21%, and mitigating poverty is third at 15%.

When split by gender, Singaporean men are more likely to choose climate change as their top cause at 24%, compared with 23% for women. Most women in Singapore picked healthcare/ disease prevention and cure as their top cause at 24%, compared with 19% for men.

The gender gap in impact investing is also narrowest in Singapore where 72% of men say they find it appealing, compared with 66% of women, or a difference of six percentage points.

Singaporean women’s interest in impact investing is also higher (66%) than that of US men (60%) and German men (57%).

Broken down by age group, it may be no surprise that Singaporean millennials express the highest interest in impact investing at 75%, followed by Gen Zs at 72%, baby boomers at 65%, and Gen Xers at 61%.

“We’re pleased with the high level of awareness and interest in impact investing in Singapore across ages and genders with their inaugural inclusion in this survey,” says Bratton Hughes.

“I expect this trend will only continue, as we believe that incorporating sustainability into our investment processes can lead to more informed decision-making and better long-term risk-adjusted returns”.

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