Top sustainable investment platforms in 2022

Written by Lori Campbell on 6th Jun 2022

Are you thinking of investing sustainably but don’t know how or where to do it? Well, the good news is that it’s not as difficult as you may have thought. As in so many areas of modern life, these days you need only hop online to find a platform through which you can easily open an account and get started today.

These platforms allow you to invest in funds or projects that pool investors’ money together to put into companies and organisations that are working to build a more sustainable future.


For your complete guide to the best ethical and sustainable investment funds available to UK investors, see the latest Good Investment Review, produced in collaboration with Square Mile Research


Which platform you choose should depend on a number of factors, including how much money you have to invest and what you want to invest in. Here we profile our top online platforms for sustainable investment (in alphabetical order).

Stocks and shares ISA options

AJ Bell YouInvest

Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), bonds
Annual fee: 0.25 per cent (up to £250,000 invested, then at decreasing rates)

Although it is set up for the more confident investor, the AJ Bell YouInvest platform is relatively easy to navigate and has some nice guides and articles. Importantly, it is one of the more competitively priced platforms too.

Within its large range of funds you’ll find a good selection of sustainable options. It currently has six ethical funds in its ‘favourite funds’ list, which is hand-picked by experts as being most likely to bring you a steady profit. These are the BMO Responsible Sterling Corporate Bond, iShares MSCI World SRI UCITS ETF, Liontrust Sustainable Future Global Growth, Liontrust Sustainable Future UK Growth, Royal London Sustainable Leaders, and Stewart Investors Worldwide Sustainability.

Barclays Smart Investor

Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, ETFs, bonds
Annual fee: 0.2 per cent

While Barclays has very poor green credentials overall because of its continued heavy investment in fossil fuels, its Smart Investor platform is worth noting for its sustainable offerings.

Firstly, the bank picks out Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) for the platform which consider Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors. For investors who want to go further and make a positive impact with their money, the Multi-Impact Growth Fund is a simple, ‘one stop shop’ to invest in leading impact funds and investments.

Smart Investor’s annual fee of 0.2 per cent is for funds, while other asset types like shares and bonds are one per cent. It isn’t the easiest of sites to navigate and does feel like it is somewhat tacked on to the rest of the bank’s offerings, but its impact investing section is growing year by year along with consumer demand.

BestInvest

Investments: Investment funds, company funds, trusts, ETFs
Annual fee: 0.4 per cent (up to £250,000 invested, then at decreasing rates)

BestInvest is a stalwart of the investing space and has its own team of financial advisers should you not fancy the DIY option. The annual price of the platform is a bit higher than other low cost options at 0.4 per cent, unless you have over £250,000 to invest at which point the cost comes down to 0.2 per cent.

BestInvest’s ‘best funds’ list includes at least nine ethical options and – for those seeking a managed solution – it offers two sustainable ready-made portfolios to suit your preferred level of risk. Both invest in companies that aim to have a positive effect on the world while avoiding those that have a detrimental impact.

The platform feels like it is geared towards a more seasoned investor, but it does have some useful guides on sustainable investing and how to choose ethical funds. It is also well worth checking out BestInvest’s long-standing guide to underperforming funds: Spot the Dog.

The Big Exchange

Investments: Equities (shares in a company), bonds, or sometimes both
Annual fee: 0.25 per cent

The Big Exchange, co-founded by The Big Issue, is an online investment platform which only lists funds that are proven to be making a positive difference to the planet and its people.

You can choose to invest in the issues that matter to you most – whether that’s lowering carbon emissions, contributing to social housing or helping to protect wildlife.

There are now around 65 investment funds to choose from, all rated against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or “Global Goals”, for the type and level of positive impact they’re making to people and planet. Each one is awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal, with gold having the highest ability to bring about positive change.

If you are new to investing, a ready-made bundle is an easy way to invest in multiple positive impact areas. The Big Exchange offers three bundles – ‘cautious’, ‘balanced’ or ‘adventurous’ – put together by independent experts based on how much risk the investments are likely to take over time. If you have some knowledge of investing or just want to invest in specific areas such as tackling climate change, you can also pick your own funds. The Big Exchange goes above and beyond in the name of transparency by displaying all the companies each fund invests in, not just the top 10.

You can invest from £25 a month or a lump sum of £100.

Charles Stanley Direct

Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, ETFs, bonds
Annual fee: 0.35 per cent (up to £250,000 invested, then at decreasing rates)

Established in 1782, Charles Stanley is one of the oldest firms on the London Stock Exchange. While it’s another traditional investment platform, it happens to have a better-than-average selection of sustainable funds available on it (at the time of writing there are more than 20). It is not as friendly a website for the beginner investor as some of the other platforms on this list, but displaying the top ten holdings for each fund in a colourful pie chart is a plus.

Like most platforms offering a wide range of investment options, Charles Stanley also offers model portfolios of pre-selected funds, known as the Foundation Portfolios, which will have a diverse basket of investments in them. The platform does not yet offer a solely sustainable option, however.

CIRCA5000 (previously tickr)

Investments: ETFs
Annual fee: 0.5 per cent (0 per cent for pensions)

Launched in 2019, CIRCA5000 is a mobile-only app that allows you to invest in companies that are aiming to solve social and environmental issues around the world. It aims to make investing easy and accessible to everyone (including those with zero experience of investing).

You can put your cash into companies from three separate themes – People, Planet, or People & Planet – at a risk level you feel comfortable with. Minimum investment is £5. As well as the annual fee, there is a monthly subscription fee of £1.

It’s worth nothing that CIRCA5000 invests your money in Exchange Traded Funds or ETFs. These are “passive” investments, meaning the money goes into a basket of companies and the asset manager simply keeps watch. While this is a cheaper style of investing, it may not be as positively impactful as an active approach. For more information on CIRCA5000, see our full review.


Get £5 to invest in CIRCA5000 by signing up here


Clim8

Investments: Stocks in a targeted portfolio of publicly-listed companies
Annual fee: 0.6 per cent

Clim8 exclusively selects companies and funds that are focused on tackling the climate crisis.Investments through the app span six climate-friendly ‘megatrends’: Circular Economy, Sustainable Food, Water Systems, Green Energy, Clean Mobility and Climate Tech.
Clim8 doesn’t merely screen out fossil fuels, like many funds that are branded as ‘ethical’, but instead proactively selects companies that are “planet positive”. The company’s goal is to move billions of pounds of investments into clean energy and truly green, sustainable companies. See our full review to find out more.

Fidelity Personal Investing

Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, ETFs
Annual fee: 0.35 per cent (up to £250,000 invested then at decreasing rates)

A global investment giant, Fidelity has around 2.5 million clients across the UK, Europe and Asia Pacific. There’s lots of content to pore over on the website but our favourite feature is the ‘Fidelity Sustainable Investment Finder,’ which helps you find the right ethical investment for your needs. Fidelity currently has a massive 391 sustainable funds available to choose from.

There is also a handy sustainable investing jargon buster. Even if you ultimately decide to use another platform to invest through, these handy features makes Fidelity a good stop for researching what’s out there.

Hargreaves Lansdown

Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, ETFs, bonds
Annual fee: 0.45 per cent

Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) is a well-known, trusted brand and the biggest DIY platform in the UK for personal investors. It is also one of the most expensive with an annual fee of 0.45 per cent, so be wary of how this might chip away at your returns. You can start with just £100 or £25 per month.

HL is making strides to make sustainable investment a bigger part of its offering, relaunching its Wealth Shortlist in June 2020 to include responsible funds for the first time. The list is made up of funds chosen by experts as having the greatest potential to financially outperform their peers over the long term.

There are currently six funds in the ‘Responsible Funds’ category, which are Liontrust SF Corporate Bond, Aegon Ethical Equity, BNY Mellon Sustainable Real Return, Janus Henderson UK Responsible Income, Troy Trojan Ethical Income (Class X), and Legal & General Future World ESG Developed Index.

While this is still a small percentage of the 71-strong list, it’s a promising move in the right direction. HL has also produced its own guide to ESG investing.

Interactive Investor

Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, ETFs, bonds
Annual fee: £119.88 (£9.99 fixed monthly charge – or £19.99 for Super Investor plan)

Interactive Investor stands out for its flat fees. However, this means the charges only start to make sense if you have a larger portfolio of £40,000 or more (amounts lower than this should use percentage-based providers and the cheaper the better).

The site is clear and simple and boasts the “ACE 40”, which it says is the UK’s first rated list of ethical investments. From its list of more than 140 ethical investment options, it has picked out what it considers to be the 40 best-in-class funds, investment trusts and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

ACE stands for “Avoids Considers Embraces”. The list of ‘best in class’ funds is separated according to asset class and investment category.

Simply EQ

Investments: Equities, bonds, property, commodities, alternatives and cash
Annual fee: 0.99 per cent for investments up to £100,000, then reducing

The fact that Simply EQ’s online portfolios are actively managed means they come with a slightly higher charge than their competitors, such as Wealthify and CIRCA5000 which invest passively through low-cost Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). It also means that you can feel a little more confident about the positive difference your money is making. Minimum investment is £250 per month or a £1,000 lump sum.

You can choose from the ‘Positive Impact‘ or ‘Future Leaders’ portfolios. The Positive Impact portfolio actively screens for social and environmental impact and is designed to maximise your profit while also making a positive difference to the planet and its people. Future Leaders “invests in the sustainable leaders of tomorrow.” For more information on Simply EQ, see our full review.

Wealthify

Investments: Mutual funds, ETFs
Annual fee: 0.6 per cent

Wealthify is what is known as a robo-adviser, which means you don’t have to do any work: you say how much risk you want to take and how much you want to invest each month and an algorithm invests it in a selection of funds for you. However, while Wealthify’s five Ethical Plans are the best ethical and sustainable robo options out there, they still contain passive funds (aka index trackers) that invest in oil and gas majors, big banks etc. (though no tobacco), so bear that in mind.

Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) options

Abundance

Investments: Direct loans to projects and businesses, secondary market
Annual fee: None

Good Egg company Abundance is a niche platform focusing on peer-to-peer lending for businesses and councils that are developing green infrastructure to help combat climate change.

Minimum investment varies, but starts at £5. The returns you can expect vary a fair bit too.

Typically, returns on crowdfunding sites like Abundance are higher than on traditional investment platforms but that comes with higher risk such as the infrastructure project or business struggling or failing.

The platform allows you to trade some of the loans (known as debentures) with other Abundance investors which is good for diversification. It also has a tax-efficient Innovative Finance ISA option, which you can find out more about here.

Ethex

Investments: Direct equity (eg shares in social enterprises), bonds, funds, secondary equity market
Annual fee: None

A Good With Money ‘Good Egg’ company, Ethex is an innovator in the platform space and is designed specifically for people wanting to do good with their money. It offers crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, which means you can invest directly in projects such as affordable housing.

Like Abundance, Ethex allows you to invest in peer-to-peer loans through a tax efficient Innovative Finance ISA, which you can open on the website as you invest. Ethex also offers some funds through its platform: sustainable funds only of course! Minimum investment amounts vary but can be as low as £1. Ethex investors can use a marketplace to trade eligible shares and bonds with others on the platform.

You can also invest in bonds with Ethex’s sister company Energise Africa – a pioneering project providing solar panels for rural communities throughout Africa.

Triodos Bank

Investments: Bonds and company shares
Annual fee: None

Good With Money Good Egg Triodos Bank has a crowdfunding platform that offers Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) investments in a range of positive impact bonds. These enable you to invest directly in pioneering organisations that are delivering positive change.

All of the investment opportunities offered by Triodos, a B-Corp firm, are with pioneering organisations delivering positive environmental, cultural or social impact. Triodos currently has a ‘Trees for Life’ offer open, which is a six per cent charity bond to support rewilding in the Scottish Highlands through the development of a new visitor centre.

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