Women and RI: Advisors share their perspective
According to a survey conducted for ÉducÉpargne in August 2022, while 53% of workers in Quebec are interested in responsible investment (RI), few of them have been offered this type of product. The survey also showed that 70% of financial service advisors are not comfortable with RI. These findings got us thinking about whether women advisors are in fact more interested in RI, and about men’s and women’s attitudes toward RI in general.
“They’re mothers. They’re concerned about the next generation.” — Lyne Larochelle
On the advisor side...
Do our specialists think that male and female financial service advisors share the same interest in responsible investment? “Although I’m not sensing a lot of responsiveness from my male colleagues yet, I think they’re gradually coming around to this type of investing,” says Lyne Larochelle, Mutual Fund Representative and Financial Security Advisor with Larochelle Conseils. “But right now, female advisors are more receptive. On my team of three, for example, we’re all women.”
For Alexandra Tanguay, Portfolio Manager and Responsible Investment Specialist at RGP Investments, women are more interested in ESG products than their male counterparts because women tend to focus more on the impact that those products can have on society or the environment – arguments often put forward by companies – whereas men are generally more interested in an investment product’s performance and returns.
OF WORKERS IN QUEBEC
ARE INTERESTED IN
RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT (RI).
Source: ÉducÉpargne survey
ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH RI.
Source: ÉducÉpargne survey
This echoes what Ms. Larochelle told us about her motivations and how she agreed to take over the family business only after she found out that she would be able to specialize in responsible investing. “I decided that that was part of my mission,” she says.
Ms. Tanguay states, however, that the way to reconcile these two views on investment (personal values and performance) is probably through training. She believes that training can help make responsible investment attractive also for those who take the time to explore this area in greater depth. “When RI first started popping up in the market, financial service advisors struggled with mastering the principles well enough to be able to discuss it confidently with their clients,” she says. “We therefore took it upon ourselves to train them. Today we find that among advisors who have received training, there’s no difference between men and women when it comes to their perceptions around RI.”
Are clients on board?
Is RI also more popular among female clients? In fact, it is. “Women today are very sure of themselves,” says Ms. Larochelle. “In my own top 10, I have as many men as women. But the more affluent clients are women. Some of them are earning really good money and they say: ‘What matters to me is not growing my money just for the sake of growing it, it’s more knowing that it’s invested in line with my own values.’ They’re mothers. And instinctively, they’re concerned about the next generation.”
It comes as no surprise to Alexandra Tanguay that female clients show a preference for RI. “RI is a really good fit for women, especially in a longer term perspective,” she says, “primarily because they have healthy investing habits and they tend to be careful and thoughtful.”
According to Rebecca Savard, Financial Security Advisor, Mutual Fund Advisor and Group Insurance and Group Annuity Plans Advisor with Lumos services financiers, while men are also showing interest, women are more motivated. “Women are the ones who approach me and place the greatest importance on RI. Many of them are okay with putting all the money they invest into RI, whereas with men, it’s generally only a small proportion.”
This specialist says that women are also more expressive. “For some of them, talking about financial products is a nightmare,” says Ms. Savard. “But when I talk to them about RI, I can see it piques their interest. That’s not to say that men aren’t interested, but they show it less.” This causes her to tailor the language she uses. “With women, I talk more about values and less about numbers.”
“RI is a really good fit for women, especially in a longer term perspective, primarily because they have healthy investing habits and they tend to be careful and thoughtful.” — Alexandra Tanguay
According to the advisors we spoke to, however, these differences between men and women are much less pronounced among younger people, who aren’t shy about saying right off the bat that they want to be able to put their savings into investments that align with their values above all. There could well be a very bright future for the RI sector.