Almost three quarters of Dutch investors are prepared to miss out on part of potential investment returns in order to support ESG considerations, a survey has suggested.

The survey of more than 1,100 people – carried out by DirectResearch and commissioned by ING and NN Investment Partners – found that almost one in five would accept a 4% lower return if their investments benefited the environment and society.

The research bureau concluded that the findings provided new proof that sustainable investing was developing rapidly from a niche market to mainstream, “as only a few years ago surveys suggested that Dutch investors were hardly interested in sustainability criteria”.

“There is increasing evidence that sustainable investing doesn’t come at the expense of returns, and could even generate better results,” commented Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen, chief investment officer at NN IP.

Peter Tros, sustainable investment analyst at ING Netherlands, added that investors sometimes needed a little push towards a sustainable choice.

“Faced with a choice between a regular fund and a sustainable alternative, 81% picked the sustainable one, but after answering a series of questions about ESG, this percentage increased to 90%.”

Tros also noted that just one in seven investors knew about the concept of impact investment, while three-quarters had never heard of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Dutch indicated that they rate issues such as access to clean drinking water and proper education as very important, but they often don’t know how to factor them in to their investment decisions,” he said.

IPE will be publishing an in-depth report into the latest ESG-related trends and ideas in the November issue of the magazine.