2017 RIA Investor Opinion Survey

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Canadian investors are interested in responsible investments, and they want gender pay equity and more women in corporate leadership

Vast majority of investors interested in responsible investing but know little or nothing about it.

June 1, 2017 – A new report from the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) shows that the vast majority of Canadian investors are interested in responsible investments (RI) that incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, and they would be more likely to choose responsible investments if their financial advisor suggested suitable RI options for them.

The report, sponsored by OceanRock Investments Inc., found that while 77% of investors are interested in RI, a staggering 73% know very little or nothing about it. These results highlight the “RI awareness gap” – a significant gap between investor interest vs knowledge about RI.

“A strong majority of investors told us that they are more likely to choose responsible investments if their advisor suggests suitable options or if their financial institution, credit union or online brokerage informed them about responsible investments,” said Deb Abbey, CEO of the RIA.

Investors also said they would be more likely to choose responsible investments if they were more confident in their performance.

“These findings show that investors need more information from their advisors about responsible investments, and that right now they are largely unaware that they perform just as well if not better than traditional Investments,” said Abbey.She added that this awareness gap presents an opportunity for client-facing financial professionals to improve their clients’ understanding of responsible investment.

She added that this awareness gap presents an opportunity for client-facing financial professionals to improve their clients’ understanding of responsible investment.

The research also found that:

  • 82% of investors would like to dedicate a portion of their portfolio to RI.
  • 52% would like more than half of their portfolio allocated to RI.
  • 85% of Millennials aged 18-35, 80% of Generation X (36-54) and 69% of Baby Boomers (55+) are interested in RI.
  • 77% agree that companies with good ESG practices are better long-term investments.

The RIA research included a specific focus on gender diversity and found that:

  • 92% of investors believe women and men should receive equal pay for equal work.
  • 76% believe companies should be required to disclose how much they pay women compared to men.
  • 55% would be willing to sell their investments if they learned that a company they are invested in does not pay men and women equally for equal work and another 25% would consider selling.

“These findings demonstrate clearly that Canadian investors will no longer tolerate gender pay discrimination and want more gender diversity on corporate boards,” said Fred Pinto, CEO of OceanRock Investments and Vice President, Head of Wealth and Asset Management with Qtrade Financial Group.

He added that Canada has a dismal record when it comes to gender parity in corporate leadership. He pointed out that data collected by securities regulators shows that women hold only 12% of seats on corporate boards in Canada, and 45% of publicly traded companies have all-male boards.

“Having more women on boards and in senior management is not only about gender equity; it also makes good business sense,” he added. “A diversity of views from independent directors is a check against group-think and improves corporate governance. It’s good for the company and, as we see in the latest RIA research, it’s what investors want.”

The report points to recent data from Statistics Canada that shows women working full time in Canada earn 74% for every dollar that men make in annual earnings, and that hourly-paid women earn just 87% on the dollar compared to men.

The RIA research is based on an online survey of 1,084 Canadian investors conducted by Insights West from March 21 to March 30, 2017. Investors were defined as individuals who currently own investments such as mutual funds, exchange traded funds, stocks, bonds, or other securities. 

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