Who is pushing – and buying – socially responsible investments

New survey finds female advisers more likely to offer impact-investing options to clients

Oct 27, 2014 @ 11:37 am

By Bianca Flowers

Socially responsible investing is on the rise, and women advisers are leading the way in offering clients opportunities to invest in a personally meaningful way.

Sixty-one percent of female advisers say they have offered SRI options to clients, compared with 47% of male advisers, according to recent survey by First Affirmative, a registered investment adviser that works with investment professionals who specialize in serving socially conscious investors. The study highlighted the fact that female advisers are more open to offering SRI investment strategies than their male counterparts.

“It points to where the industry will end up on this question in the long run,” said Christy Aleckson, an investment representative at Single Point Financial Advisors. “As more and more women join the ranks of financial professionals over time, the availability of SRI investment strategies for any investor will improve, and the notion of investing for positive impact will become a common practice.”

But the wealth management industry as a whole is opening its eyes to potential business gains from the increasing client demand for investments with environmental and social impact. Nearly half of the 1,913 advisers surveyed said they've offered an SRI options to clients because the clients requested it.

Almost three out of five (58%) respondents said they had never considering offering SRI options to clients. Lack of information or familiarity with SRI is what 71% of advisers cited as the main reason for not informing clients about impact investment strategies.

Most financial professionals expect investor interest in SRI to trend upward, especially among young, affluent investors who strongly value sustainable investments and want to put their money where their values are.

“It's clear that [socially] responsible investment strategies are now a client expectation that advisers need to be equipped to provide,” said First Affirmative senior vice president Betsy Moszeter. “We are encouraged to see that industry professionals are looking ahead, and understand that the views and concerns of Millennial investors will need to be addressed in coming years.”

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