UK Investor Survey 2023

Bridge the reporting trust deficit to address investors' sustainability concerns

Address the reporting trust deficit to navigate investors’ sustainability concerns

Transparency around sustainability risk and opportunity is key to investors’ decision-making. They want clear, consistent and comparable information on the material issues facing organisations, but PwC’s UK Investor Survey 2023 reveals improvements need to be made to close the reporting trust deficit.

Investors support new sustainability standards

Investors’ concerns around greenwashing are eroding trust in what companies say they are doing to address the sustainability risks and opportunities facing their business. This in turn is making it difficult for investors to allocate capital where it needs to go. 93% of survey respondents who invest in, or cover, companies in the UK believe that corporate reporting on sustainability performance contains at least some level of unsupported claims. Tellingly, that’s a four per cent increase from 2022 (89%).

More than two thirds (71%) said they would have greater confidence in assessing the accuracy of the sustainability information reported by companies if it has undergone independent limited assurance. This sits alongside significant support from investors for new disclosure requirements which could lead to more consistent, comparable reporting on sustainability, such as the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) S1 and S2 standards.

“Accurate, reliable, and clear sustainability data is critical for organisations to move from ambition to action, and to establish trust with investors. Data-based evidence is only going to become more important. Building trust through clarity is essential.”

Zubin Randeria, ESG Leader, PwC UK

Support for ESG expenditure over short-term profit

Investors’ steadfast interest in ESG and sustainability investing is predominantly being driven by the regulatory environment and potential to protect returns. 70% of survey respondents believe that companies should invest in addressing ESG issues even if it reduces short-term profitability. However, more than half (56%) of CEOs from this year’s UK CEO Survey say their climate efforts are inhibited to some extent by concerns about lower returns on climate-friendly investments.


of survey respondents believe that companies should invest in addressing ESG issues even if it reduces short-term profitability.

The cost of inaction is palpable, with 58% of investors seeking change by entering into a dialogue with a company that has not demonstrated sufficient progress on ESG issues.

What’s the bottom line?

To meet investor demands, companies should provide a complete, interconnected and balanced narrative to demonstrate that they are managing risks and identifying opportunities that allow them to create value over the long term.

“I’d like to see simple language and a coherent story linking different aspects of the business together. From the past, present and future, to the narrative and the financials, investors will trust the business more because they can see how it all fits together.”

UK-based investor

In September 2023, PwC surveyed 345 investors and analysts across 30 countries and territories, and conducted in-depth interviews with 15 investment professionals. The data in this report is based on the 102 respondents who invest in or cover companies in the UK. 

See the global report, methodology and findings.

Contact us

Zubin Randeria

Zubin Randeria

ESG Leader, Risk Executive Board member, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7710 080027

Hemione  Hudson

Hemione Hudson

Head of Audit, PwC United Kingdom

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