New survey explores impact investing trends among millennials

Steve Prostano
Posted by Steve Prostano
Family Wealth Advisors

What interests millennials about impact investing and how are they directing their investments for impact?

Panel of millennial impact investors discussing the Toniic survey results.

Panel of millennial impact investors discussing the Toniic survey results in San Francisco.

These and other questions drove recent research funded by Bank of the West’s Family Wealth Advisors and conducted by the Toniic Institute, a nonprofit global organization of impact investors. The firm surveyed 58 millennials (ages 20-40) around the world, two-thirds of whom had more than $500,000 investable assets under management or anticipated future access to larger pools of capital with family assets of more than $1 million.

Nearly 4 out of 5 respondents (79%) described themselves as impact investors, meaning they seek both financial and social impact returns. A small subset of the group (13%) said they seek investment opportunities that align with their values, regardless of financial return.

“Invest in what changes the world and changes you at the same time,” said one of the millennials who was interviewed for the Toniic study. “After all, wealth is just another tool, if used properly, to live a life of impact and meaning.”

Key highlights from the study Impact investing themes/sectors: The top six that interest and/or engage the millennials are energy, agriculture, environment, food security, water, and employment.

Structure of personal assets: Nearly two-thirds of millennial respondents (64%) hold their assets as individuals. The other structures include a single family office (13%), trust (10%), or a foundation (8%). In addition, the majority of these millennials are active in managing their assets monthly if not weekly, according to the survey.

Portfolio growth toward impact: The allocation to impact in most of the millennials’ portfolios is less than 50%, but 72% of the respondents said they intend to move more assets into impact within the next five years. A small group (10%) is all in, saying they’ve moved 90-100% of their personal assets or family assets to impact.

Support & access to impact investments: Friends and investor networks, such as Toniic or Pymwymic, were the top two means for helping millennials find impact investments. The next two were family and professional wealth advisors.

Regarding challenges that may get in the way of millennials moving more assets to impact, the top answer from respondents was “not enough information.” Clearly there is a need for impact investor education, the survey concludes.

My hope is that this important survey helps to improve awareness and provide more details that may help millennials be better informed about investing for impact. Read the full report here.

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