Do Financial Advisors Exploit Responsible Investment Preferences?

An unprecedented number of investors are giving their financial advisors a mandate for socially responsible investing (SRI). Yet, the impact of SRI mandates on consumers is
unclear. In a pre-registered lab-in-the-field experiment with 345 professional advisors, we find that advisors charge a premium to SRI clients that cannot be justified by higher effort, skill, or costs. This suggests that advisors exploit the SRI preferences of their clients (who accept these higher fees). In an independent survey, financial regulators predict higher SRI fees but do not predict exploitation. Regulators confirm that our findings are externally valid and require attention from policymakers.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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