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Advisers ‘critical gatekeepers’ for responsible investment: RIAA

Simon O’Connor, chief executive of the RIAA says financial advisers are critical in the responsible investment space, and with consumer demand increasing they need to know what they are talking about.

Wednesday, June 2nd 2021, 6:59AM

by Daniel Smith

With discussions around responsible investing becoming more mainstream, Simon O'Connor of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) says financial advisers have a key role to play in this aspect of the market.

“In our view advisers are a critical gatekeeper for consumers to engage with responsible investment.

“Done well, advisers can be a very important conduit for investors to invest their money in a way that matches their views, priorities and values.”

Growing consumer interest in responsible investment presents advisers with an opportunity to add further value in the lives of their clients.

“Advisers need to get up to speed with the consumer demand in this space. Our fear is that if advisers are not educated they can be a blockage point for this industry in terms of consumers connecting to products that match their values.

“But done well, advisers have the ability to develop really strong and deep relationships with their clients in a way where they are helping them not only invest their retirement savings, but also helping to strengthen [their] future lifestyle and wellbeing.

“The upsides of this are huge.”

Because of this O’Connor believes adviser education around responsible investing is a critical topic for the industry.

“What we are concerned about is that advisers are feeling not adequately armed with the right information and not confident enough to be really engaging with their clients around these conversations.

“We are really working hard to arm advisers to make sure they are confident to engage with their clients in this space.”

The team at RIAA produce key educational and support documents for advisers as well as taking the position of educator for the industry.

“We update each year a responsible investment adviser guide. In addition to that we have been producing fact-sheets that help advisers navigate the responsible investment space and demystify [it].

“Fact-sheets are on several topics including how to avoid greenwashing, how to run a client interview process, templates on a fact find to find your clients values.

“We are arming our members and advisers on how to differentiate between marketing products. How to cut through the marketing spin to find out whether the products are credible and are committing to what they are saying they are delivering.”

O’Connor says that among all of the jargon being used in the responsible investment world, it is vital for advisers to be able to understand the importance of certification.

“Certification is key. Products come to us to get themselves certified and advisers need to understand the strictness of the process.

“Only after a stringent process do those products go up on our web tool.

“[The] audience viewing that tool are advisers who trust it to match their clients with financial products that fit with their values.”

Responsible Investment Association Australasia and RI Aotearoa New Zealand are holding a conference - Responsible investing. The new normal - at the Hilton Auckland on Quay St from 9.30am today.

Tags: ethical investments responsible investing Responsible Investment Association RIAA

« Almost half of NZ's advisers face deregistrationMann on a mission to diversify financial advice »

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