Kiwis' consciences are playing a big role in how they invest their money, new research shows.

Socially responsible investing is the main driver for more than a third of New Zealanders and ranks in the top three considerations when investing for 88 per cent of people, according to a study by digital investing platform Hatch.

A survey of 1500 people around the country shows investors are avoiding putting their money into companies whose business doesn't fit with their ethics, but are still trying to maximise financial gain.

"Socially responsible investing seeks to consider both financial return and social or environmental good," said Kristen Lunman, general manager at Hatch.

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"Investors tend to avoid companies that produce addictive substances and weapons and seek out companies engaged in social initiatives like environmental sustainability and clean energy efforts.

"As we look to create a sustainable future, social responsibility is becoming more of a part of every aspect of our lives. It makes sense that investors are also considering the social implications of business policies and practices.

"Investors might choose to invest in companies that recognise human rights and environmental alternatives, which will encourage more companies to follow suit."

In June, Hatch commissioned consumer insights company Perceptive to better understand where and how New Zealanders currently invest and what their attitudes and perspectives are around different types of investing, discovering 37 per cent of Kiwis prefer to put their money into companies that support sustainable practices and exhibit good governance.

The Hatch Investment Landscape Survey found social investing is more of a consideration for women and millennials.

But returns are still the primary driver of investment decisions, over social implications, for the majority of women and men.

"I was surprised that socially responsible investing is such a big driver for Kiwis across all demographics," Lunman said.

"Cynics may argue that socially responsible investing is just a fad but a closer look at the forces that have driven the movement over the past 15 years suggest otherwise.

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"Gathering and processing data is becoming even easier and cheaper, and investors are increasingly conscious of the social and environmental consequences of the decisions that companies make."

Developments in technology mean investors are increasingly empowered to express their own values in the way they use their money.

The data also revealed a trend toward self-directed investing, with a DIY platform being the most appealing way to invest for 72 per cent of Kiwis.

"This is a trend we have been watching for a while and perhaps reflects the can-do Kiwi attitude," she said.

The "digital generation" makes purchase decisions based on recommendations from their peers and information from their own research.

"They're now able to access share markets at their fingertips and execute trades as and when they see fit."

The figures also showed less than half of Kiwis were "engaged investors" - that is, investing in anything other than a savings account or a KiwiSaver.

Lunman was not surprised by the figures, saying the biggest reason people say they don't want to invest is that they can't afford to. The second biggest reason is the risk involved with investing.

"People have a genuine fear of losing their hard-earned money."

How are we investing?

• Social investing is the primary driver for 37 per cent of respondents.

• Investing in well-known and loved brands was the third most common way of investing.

• 74 per cent prefer getting human advice on investing, rather than AI or digital advice.

• Women are significantly more likely to be risk averse than men.

• Generation X are the most likely to be aggressive, risk-wise.

• About 8 in 10 New Zealanders have investments or savings, mainly in savings accounts or KiwiSaver.