Women Want to Make an Impact Through ESG Investing: UBS

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Almost eight out of 10 female investors want to make a positive impact through the likes of environmental, social and governance investing, according to new research from UBS.

For its “Own Your Worth: Women on Purpose” report, UBS surveyed 1,400 women investors between January 24 and February 7. Of the women surveyed, those aged between 25 and 30 had at least $250,000 in investable assets, those aged 31 to 39 had at least $500,000 and those 40 and older had at least $1 million.

Some 79% of the respondents said they want their investments to be consistent with their values. Around 75% expect ESG investments to have comparable or better returns than traditional investing, but only 47% actually hold those types of investments in their portfolios.

Set against the backdrop of climate change and the Black Lives Matter movement, interest in ESG is surging among clients, according to UBS advisor Stephen LaFata.

“The past couple of years has been an incredible catalyst where [ESG is] now coming up more and more,” he said during a media roundtable to discuss the survey results. “Before, it was maybe coming up in 5% of conversations; it is now coming up in a third to a half of planning conversations.”

Advisors also have more ESG-related offerings to recommend to clients now, and that will increase further in a year or two, according to LaFata.

“From the financial advisor perspective, there’s actually an increase in the availability of being able to invest in these different items, which has been fantastic,” he said. “Not only are [clients] bringing the questions to the table, but we are able to answer those questions much better than we were even three years ago.”

Advisors should be broaching the subject of ESG with their clients, UBS advisor Jill Faherty Lloyd said during the roundtable.

“I do think that it’s incumbent upon the financial advisors to be asking the questions [related to ESG],” she said. “Unless they are showing up at the table, pounding their fist, saying, ‘I want this right now,’ we need to be opening the door for that.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has also impacted how the women surveyed by UBS regard their investments. Some 82% of the respondents said that they have reassessed what is important to them over the last two years and 68% said they are more committed to using their financial resources to impact change.

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