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Only 6% of Older Investors Are Familiar With ESG Investing: Survey

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Terms such as values-based, responsible, socially responsible and faith-based investing have gained increasing currency in recent years — and so has confusion and misunderstanding about what these strategies involve.

A survey released this week by Crossmark Global Investments, a provider of responsible investment solutions, found a strong correlation between an investor’s age and his or her familiarity with such terms.

The survey sample comprised 488 high-net-worth investors with investable assets of $250,000 to $5 million.

Only 40% of investors older than 60 were familiar with values-based investing, compared with 84% of millennials, and a mere 6% of senior investors knew what environmental, social and governance investing involved, versus 80% of millennials.

The survey also found that as investors grow older, their financial advisors speak with them less about these various forms of investing.

Only 25% of senior investors’ advisors were discussing options for portfolio construction around values-based investing, versus 85% of millennial investors’ advisors.

Perhaps not surprising, older investors were far less likely than younger ones to make values-based investing decisions. Among seniors, only 14% had values-based investments and none reported having ESG investments. By comparison, 47% of millennials said they had investments in values-based strategies, and 26% in ESG strategies.

As a result, Crossmark said in a statement, seniors still represent a vast pool of assets that has been mostly untapped in the values-based investment segment. How big?

The study cited a Deloitte Center for Financial Services report that U.S. investable financial assets will increase to $64 trillion by 2030. This means that if senior investors continue to control an estimated 53% of total investable assets, they will have an estimated $33.8 trillion in investable assets, Crossmark said. That translates into a huge market opportunity that is potentially being overlooked for different types of investing.

“We were surprised to find such a knowledge divide with values-based investing, considering the level of interest there is with the millennial age group and the variety of options available to investors,” Art Smith, Crossmark’s managing director of distribution and marketing, said in the statement.

“It’s clear that there is still plenty of room for education around the strategy, which will result in growth based on current reported levels of investments from investors of all ages.”

A recent study found a disconnect between advisors and clients on how to address charitable giving.

The Crossmark survey showed that despite the emergence of robo-advisors, financial advisors still largely influence investment decisions of investors across demographics, including age and asset levels.

Sixty-six percent of all respondents said they currently used a financial advisor, and 64% with more than $1 million in investable assets said an advisor was most in charge of assessing what was in their portfolio. This compared with 53% of those with $500,000 to $999,000 in investable assets and 61% in the $250,000-to-$499,000 asset range.

The survey found that 88% of millennials wanted to talk about values-based investing with their advisors and ask about the individual advisor’s own values.

Crossmark noted that in the next few decades, these same individuals will enter the 60+ demographic and presumably will still care about values and values-based investing.

“Advisors have an opportunity to help educate the current generation of seniors on values-based investing, and simultaneously prepare for the future generations that will demand values-based investing options.”

— Check out 5 Quick Facts About Millennial Stock Investors on ThinkAdvisor.


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