Mapping the Responsible Investing Landscape in Scotland

The report

May 2020 sees the launch of our new report, ‘Mapping the Responsible Investing Landscape in Scotland’, which examines the responsible investment market in Scotland, looking at:

  • History: the history of responsible investing with a focus on Scotland
  • Ecosystem: the composition of the Scottish responsible investment market, and the linkages between different participants
  • Taxonomy: the terms used by Scottish fund managers to describe their approaches to responsible investment
  • Market Size: The size of the responsible investing market in Scotland, and how it compares to Ireland and the rest of the UK

The motivation behind the report was our mission to raise awareness and support the growth of the responsible investing market in Scotland. Having engaged with a number of stakeholders as well as undertaken internal desk-based research it was apparent that, whilst data on the sector exists for the UK as a whole, there was little or nothing specific to Scotland available.


The report is available in both a full version, and a separate executive summary. Please click on the report covers to download.

Full report

MRILS Cover-border

Executive Summary

MRILS Exec Sum Cover-border

Key findings


The report finds that Scotland has a highly active and engaged responsible investing sector. In the absence of a clear, consistent and standardised taxonomy Scottish asset managers have taken varying approaches to interpreting and communicating their responsible investment strategies.

  • 19 asset managers and 8 asset owners operate in the field of responsible investing in Scotland.
  • 18 of these responsible asset managers and all 8 of the responsible asset owners are signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
  • 95% of the 19 responsible asset managers in Scotland make reference to “ESG” (environmental, social and governance factors) directly on their website or within documents available to download with less than half (47%) providing a definition of ESG.
  • Over a quarter (26%) of responsible asset managers in Scotland lead with “Responsible Investment” (or similar) as a headline term on their website while 21% lead with “ESG”. Other lead terms employed in Scotland include: Governance & Sustainability, Stewardship, Sustainable Investment (or similar), Circular Economy, ESG & Sustainability and Stewardship / ESG.
  • 79% of the 19 responsible asset managers have a dedicated policy, outlining their approach to non-financial factors, available on their website.

Reviewing the Scottish responsible investing taxonomy shows inconsistencies across, and in some cases within, asset managers. ESG is the most common term, and the report also funds contrasting approaches to responsible investing, ranging positive screens to those who avoid using negative screens to ensure their investment universe is maximised. In line with wider market trends impact investing and the SDGs appear to be emerging areas for Scottish responsible investors. Whilst engagement is still limited to a few these areas can be expected to grow over the coming years which could represent an opportunity for Scottish responsible investors.

Market Size

Our analysis of the size of the responsible investing market in Scotland paints a mixed picture. Scotland’s share of the UK’s responsible investing market outweighs its share of the conventional market, but it has failed to match the recent growth of Ireland. Scotland displays a few areas of particular strength, notably in active management and equity-focused funds.

  • TrustNet data shows a total of £10.7 billion of Scottish responsible assets under management (AUM) domiciled in the UK or Ireland, with £9.5 billion domiciled in the UK.
  • These funds were managed by 6 Scottish fund managers, meaning 13 responsible asset managers did not manage a qualifying ethical fund.
  • Scotland’s £9.5 billion UK-domiciled responsible AUM represents 11% of the UK responsible investing market, compared to Scotland’s 7% share of the conventional market.
  • Rapid sector growth in Scotland of ~27.3% per year since 2004, mostly in climate, impact and ESG funds.
  • 35 Scottish responsible investing funds are identified from 102 separate listings in the data source due to the separation of multiple share classes in the same fund into different listings. Scottish listings represented approximately 18% of the UK total.
  • 99% of responsible AUM in Scotland is concentrated among 4 asset managers (Aegon Asset Management [Kames Capital], Aberdeen Standard Investments, Stewart Investors and Baillie Gifford).
  • All responsible AUM in Scotland are managed under active strategies.
  • Scotland shows particular strength in equity-focused funds, which house 73% of AUM, with the remainder split between mixed asset class and fixed interest.


The report has received coverage in the media.