Skip to main content

Morgan Stanley Sustainable Signals: New Survey Shows High and Rising Individual Investor Interest in Sustainability

  • Individual investors globally continue to be interested in sustainable investing (77%), with 54% planning to increase sustainable investments in the next year
  • Developments over the last 12 months driving interest in sustainable investing include new climate science and financial performance
  • More than three quarters of surveyed individuals (77%) say that companies should address environmental and social issues
  • 51% of those surveyed would consider investing in traditional energy companies with robust transition plans

Individual investor interest in sustainable investing is high and rising, according to a new “Sustainable Signals” report by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. The survey polled 2,820 active individual investors across the U.S., Europe and Japan to assess interest in sustainability and understand where investors see the most opportunity and potential risk.

“Nearly 80% of individual investors believe that it is possible to balance market rate financial returns with a focus on sustainability,” says Jessica Alsford, Morgan Stanley’s Chief Sustainability Officer and CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Investing. “A majority of individual investors also express a desire for their investments to advance positive environmental and social impact, creating opportunities for finance professionals to meet these needs.”

According to the survey, more than three quarters (77%) of individual investors globally are interested in investing in companies or funds that aim to achieve market-rate financial returns while considering positive social and/or environmental impact. In addition, more than half (57%) say their interest has increased in the last two years, while 54% say they anticipate boosting allocations to sustainable investments in the next year.

Other notable survey findings include:

  • Climate Action as a Key Investment Issue – When asked to pick their top sustainable investing theme, 15% of investors selected climate action, followed by healthcare (13%), water solutions (11%) and circular economy (11%).
  • Traditional Energy Companies Still an Investment Option – When making a new investment, nearly 80% of individual investors consider a company’s reporting on its carbon footprint and commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, traditional energy companies are not out of scope. 51% would consider investing in traditional energy companies as long as robust plans to reduce emissions and address climate change are in place.
  • Concerns Holding Investors Back – Survey respondents cite a lack of transparency and trust in sustainability reporting (63%) and the potential for greenwashing (61%) as concerns that prevent them from making sustainable investments. They also express an interest in investing in social themes but uncertainty around where to begin.

The report concludes that investors could benefit from the guidance of investment professionals. More than half (52%) of respondents self-report limited knowledge about how to start investing sustainably, with 47% saying there is a lack of financial products available. These findings indicate increased opportunity for asset managers and investment platforms to help investors meet their sustainability goals; 58% of global investors would be likely to select a financial advisor or investment platform based on sustainable investment offerings.

The Sustainable Signals series was launched in 2015 and measures the views of individual investors, institutional investors and corporates on sustainable investing.

View the full results of the Sustainable Signals survey here.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. With offices in 42 countries, the Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visit

About Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing

The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing (The Institute) builds scalable finance solutions that seek to deliver competitive financial returns while driving positive environmental and social impact. The Institute creates innovative financial products, thoughtful insights and capacity building programs that help maximize capital to create a more sustainable future. For more information about the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, visit


This material was published in January 2024 and has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation of any offer to buy or sell any security or other financial instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. This material was not prepared by the Morgan Stanley Research Department and is not a Research Report as defined under FINRA regulations. This material does not provide individually tailored investment advice. It has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC (collectively, “Morgan Stanley”), Members SIPC, recommend that recipients should determine, in consultation with their own investment, legal, tax, regulatory and accounting advisors, the economic risks and merits, as well as the legal, tax, regulatory and accounting characteristics and consequences, of the transaction or strategy referenced in any materials. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Morgan Stanley, its affiliates, employees and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Individuals should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning, and their attorney for matters involving legal matters.

Past performance is not a guarantee or indicative of future performance. Historical data shown represents past performance and does not guarantee comparable future results.

Certain statements herein may be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are not historical facts or statements of current conditions, but instead are based on management’s current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. These statements are not guarantees of future results or occurrences and involve certain known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict and are often beyond our control. In addition, this report contains statements based on hypothetical scenarios and assumptions, which may not occur or differ significantly from actual events, and these statements should not necessarily be viewed as being representative of current or actual risk or forecasts of expected risk. Actual results and financial conditions may differ materially from those included in these statements due to a variety of factors.

Any forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of Morgan Stanley speak only as to the date they are made, and Morgan Stanley does not undertake to update forward-looking statements to reflect the impact of circumstances or events that arise after the date the forward-looking statements were made. Because of their narrow focus, sector investments tend to be more volatile than investments that diversify across many sectors and companies.

Certain portfolios may include investment holdings deemed Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) investments. For reference, environmental (“E”) factors can include, but are not limited to, climate change, pollution, waste, and how an issuer protects and/or conserves natural resources. Social (“S”) factors can include, but not are not limited to, how an issuer manages its relationships with individuals, such as its employees, shareholders, and customers as well as its community. Governance (“G”) factors can include, but are not limited to, how an issuer operates, such as its leadership composition, pay and incentive structures, internal controls, and the rights of equity and debt holders. You should carefully review an investment product’s prospectus or other offering documents, disclosures and/or marketing material to learn more about how it incorporates ESG factors into its investment strategy.

ESG investments may also be referred to as sustainable investments, impact aware investments, socially responsible investments or diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) investments. It is important to understand there are inconsistent ESG definitions and criteria within the industry, as well as multiple ESG ratings providers that provide ESG ratings of the same subject companies and/or securities that vary among the providers. This is due to a current lack of consistent global reporting and auditing standards as well as differences in definitions, methodologies, processes, data sources and subjectivity among ESG rating providers when determining a rating. Certain issuers of investments including, but not limited to, separately managed accounts (SMAs), mutual funds and exchange traded-funds (ETFs) may have differing and inconsistent views concerning ESG criteria where the ESG claims made in offering documents or other literature may overstate ESG impact. Further, socially responsible norms vary by region, and an issuer’s ESG practices or Morgan Stanley’s assessment of an issuer’s ESG practices can change over time.

Portfolios that include investment holdings deemed ESG investments or that employ ESG screening criteria as part of an overall strategy may experience performance that is lower or higher than a portfolio not employing such practices. Portfolios with ESG restrictions and strategies as well as ESG investments may not be able to take advantage of the same opportunities or market trends as portfolios where ESG criteria is not applied. There is no assurance that an ESG investing strategy or techniques employed will be successful. Past performance is not a guarantee or a dependable measure of future results. For risks related to a specific fund, please refer to the fund’s prospectus or summary prospectus.

© 2024 Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Members SIPC. All rights reserved.


Data & News supplied by
Stock quotes supplied by Barchart
Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes.
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.