Investors with a Cause: Millennials Champion Socially Responsible Investing
By Donald Liebenson
July 10, 2013

When it comes to factors that influence an investor’s investment selection, social responsibility is significantly more of a priority for Millennial investors than it is for previous generations, according to a recent generational study conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner.

Nearly half (49 percent) of Millennials with more than $1 million net worth said that social responsibility is a factor in choosing an investment. Interest in social responsibility decreases with age. It is an investment factor for 43 percent of Gen Xers, 34 percent of Baby Boomers (a surprise, as the annual Earth Day observance was created on their watch), and 27 percent of seniors. [EXPAND Read more]

It is an even higher priority for most investors with less than $1 million net worth. Fifty-three percent of non-Millionaire Millennials make socially responsible investments a priority, as do 42 percent of Gen Xers, 41 percent of Baby Boomers and 39 percent of seniors.

Socially responsible investing comprises an estimated $3.07 trillion out of $25.2 trillion in the U.S. investment marketplace, according to a 2012 report from US SIF, the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. These types of investments encourage corporations to improve their practices on environmental, social and governance issues.

Millennials, who are not only more tech-savvy than previous generations, but also more media savvy, are the most cynical regarding the corporate socially responsible investing. Three-fourths of Millionaire Millennials (vs. 49 percent overall) said they believe that socially responsible corporate behavior is nothing more than public relations, according to a separate Millionaire Corner survey conducted in April.

They are also more likely to believe that social responsibility is not a corporate responsibility and that it is up to individuals to decide whether or not to use their investment returns for social change.

What impact will Millennials’ interest in socially responsible investing have on the wealth management industry? An unprecedented $41 trillion is poised to change hands as aging Baby Boomers transfer their wealth to the next generation, according to Social Welfare Institute of Boston College researchers, who considered the 55-year period from 1998 to 2052. Financial advisors, providers and institutions, notes Katie Gilbert for Institutional Investor, “will need to alter their own approach to socially responsible investing if they are to attract any portion of this huge tranche of transferred wealth.” [/EXPAND]