The american company Workiva released findings from a survey (1) of individual investors that reveal approximately 70% of respondents believe organizations have a responsibility to demonstrate ESG performance to investors, with Gen Z and younger Millennial-aged investors (18-34 year-olds) the most demanding around ESG credentials. The survey revealed transparency around ESG disclosures is becoming integral to investor decisions, and companies will undoubtedly experience increased pressure from investors to be able to report on their progress.

ESG data Transparency

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, individual investors made up an estimated 19.5% of U.S. equity trading volume, a jump of over 4% compared to 2019.  Awareness around ESG is especially high within the younger generation, with 84% being aware of ESG, and of this group nearly two-thirds (64%) claiming to know a lot about it.

  • ESG awareness was found to be most prevalent in Germany with 93% of investors under 34 years old noting they were already aware of ESG in investments.
  • In the United States 65% of Gen Z and Millennials state ESG in companies has become more important over the last year and will continue to become more important (69%) due to climate change.
  • Also, most pronounced in the U.S., 72% of 18–34 year-olds want to know whether a company lives up to their social and moral beliefs before they invest.

“Our survey findings represent a powerful motivation for organizations to take a serious look at how they are reporting ESG and other non-financial data,” said Julie Iskow, chief operating officer of Workiva. “We believe there is a real competitive advantage in attracting today’s modern investors with a commitment to corporate transparency.”

Julie Iskow, COO of Workiva

Data is the Key

Difficulty in Trusting Data. When asked if they found it difficult to trust what companies are disclosing about what they’re doing for the environment and society, only 15% of respondents disagreed.

  • In addition, over 60% of respondents across all regions stated they find it difficult to judge whether companies are doing the right thing when it comes to the environment and society.

Over one-third of survey respondents (43%) in all markets noted they trust ESG performance more when reported through numbers and data than qualitative descriptions — this increased to 54% for 18-34 year-olds.

  • 72% of individual investors believe that companies should make it easier for them to judge ESG efforts through data.
  • More than half of all individual investors surveyed expressed that they would be more likely to invest in a company that demonstrates its ESG performance. This sentiment increased to 60% for Gen Z and Millennial-aged investors across all regions.

This survey of individual investors comes on the heels of large institutional investors and asset managers extolling the benefits of integrating ESG metrics as a key factor in building their investment portfolios, as well as trends in new regulations requiring non-financial reporting.

“The survey indicates that investors want to see earnings growth, deeper data transparency and progress in all areas of ESG. This will require a technology solution that can deliver accuracy and simplify the complex process of collecting and reporting non-financial data; Workiva is revolutionizing how companies approach ESG reporting with a solution that does just that.”

Julie Iskow, COO of Workiva

Source: Workiva

Workiva commissioned a survey to better understand the current sentiment of individual investors (who have grown in importance and activity1) on the transparency and faith in ESG performance and reporting data. The survey findings cover individual investors from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France.