Doing well by doing good

Since the United Nation established its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there has never been greater drive for "doing well by doing good."

But when it comes to private investment, what does this really mean? Can private investors effect genuine change through sustainable or "impact investing"? And if so, can investors still expect solid returns?

Sergio Ermotti, UBS chief executive, leads the interrogation of this challenge and his response is an emphatic "yes".

"Today's investors want to see a positive impact on society and the environment as well as solid financial returns" says Ermotti, "And the SDGs present a critical opportunity to promote sustainable growth for all."

UBS has committed to directing $5 billion of client money over the next five years into impact investments related to the UN SDGs. Impact investing aims to generate an additive, measurable social or environmental impact in addition to a compelling return. This "double bottom line" approach is particularly attractive to clients.

Global research supports UBS' position: Super-wealthy millennials are putting more than 60 percent of their income into impact investing, according to the Global Family Office Report, Campden Wealth, in association with UBS.

The rising influence of the millennial generation

Accelerating the positive effect of finance

So has impact investing come of age? Simon Smiles, chief investment officer for UHNW UBS Wealth Management, thinks so. "There is huge interest in market solutions to ensure existing companies have a positive impact, as well as a growing catalogue of start-ups with sustainability at their core." Simon continues: "More investors are incorporating environmental, social, and governance factors into their investment decisions. As a result, sustainable or impact investing is becoming a force to be reckoned with."

UBS is committed to helping the UN meet its SDGs. While CEO Ermotti admits this is no small mission, the banking giant takes its responsibility seriously. And it is also committed to helping clients "do well by doing good."

"UBS promises to work together with its clients to grow and protect their wealth over generations. Sustainability is a cornerstone of our business," responds Ermotti. "The funds we will offer, aligned with the SDGs, will function in much the same way as any other investment fund."

UBS is also involved in launching Align 17 – a SDG platform which positions itself as the trusted player in "accelerating the positive effect of finance" in the world.

Align 17 has already attracted interest from major organizations including Hamilton Lane, PwC and the World Bank. The platform aims to be a first point of contact where private investors can "source vetted, impactful deals."

Read more from the UBS whitepaper here.

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