Sustainable, responsible and impact investing: five things that hold you back!

Sustainable, responsible and impact investing: five things that hold you back!

Sometimes the line is very thin between opting for the salad or the hamburger, between working out or watching the latest film on Netflix, between taking the bike or the car, between one last try at the blackjack table or heading home. With family, work, personal time and all the things that fill our schedule, we do not always take the time to stop and think about the reasons that lead us to opt, or not, for one option as opposed to another.

Since its launch in September 2014, Ethiquette itself has set out to better understand the key factors that lead people to choose (or not to chose) responsible investment. This exploration allows us to identify some of the key conditions and tools necessary to enable more people to invest in ways that respect social wellbeing and environmental stewardship.

At every chance we get, we ask people about their biggest challenges when it comes to sustainable, responsible and impact investment. We’re reporting here on one occasion where we gave an early morning presentation to a group of 20 people (clearly interested enough in the subject to make it out to a 7:30 am talk before work instead of sleeping a little longer!). Of these 20 motivated people, only one already invests for impact.

Participants wrote down the reasons that block them from investing in sustainable, responsible or impact products. Five principle challenges emerged :

  1. Lack of money : 6 participants noted that they didn’t have enough money to be investing ;
  2. Lack of knowledge : 8 participants wrote that they had insufficient knowledge and clarity of the responsible investment options ;
  3. Challenges with impact measurement : 2 participants explained challenges around the evaluation the veritable impact of sustainable, responsible and impact investment ;
  4. Uncertainty of returns : 2 participants noted that they feared an underperformance of responsible investment products compared to conventional products ;
  5. Scarcity of products : 3 participants said that they could not find products that suited their needs.

A number of other concerns were also raised by participants : transparency (where is the money going?), diversification of risk, finding lower-risk investments that are also fossil fuel-free and ethical, and the accessiblity of information.

While our sample size was very limited, the barriers that emerged nonetheless largely reflect what the larger population experiences. Ethiquette endevours to respond to these needs and enable individual Canadians to invest in ways that are sustainable, responsible and impactful. We’ve addressed many of these barriers already on the site.

What about you? What’s holding you back? 

Please share with us in the comments space below (all comments need to be approved prior to publication, so expect a short delay here), or email us at

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