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Uncovering Missed Sustainable Client Opportunities for Canadian Advisors

Interest in sustainable investing in Canada is strong. According to the 2023 Investor Opinion Survey conducted by the Responsible Investment Association of Canada, interest in responsible investments continues to be high among retail investors, with 65% of respondents expressing interest in responsible Investments. The study also reveals that 67% of respondents would like their financial services provider to inform them about responsible investing options aligned with their values. The interest in sustainable investing mirrors that of investors globally. A recent Morgan Stanley survey of individual investors worldwide found that 77% were interested in sustainable investing.  

In addition to investor appetites, regulation in Canada tried to help incorporate environmental, social, and governance considerations in client interactions. Since December 2021, the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO) has included environmental, social, and governance considerations as part of the Know Your Client (KYC) process. 

To see how financial advisory firms are meeting this increasing demand, ED4S undertook a secret shopper campaign. ED4S associates posed as customers wishing to speak with an investment advisor about their potential investing needs to gauge how well those advisors could meet our secret shoppers' needs concerning sustainable investing.  

What we found was eye-opening: 

  • Less than 25% of the advisors we spoke to brought up ESG or sustainability considerations without any prompts. After our secret shoppers showed indirect signs of interest in ESG investments, this metric improved to about 67% of advisors.  

  • About half of the advisors, we spoke to demonstrated a sufficient understanding of different ESG investment approaches.  

  • While most of the advisors we spoke with offered some ESG or sustainable investment products, these were considered a good fit by our secret shoppers only about 17% of the time, and somewhat of a good fit a little over 39% of the time.  

The mixed results of advisors to address the sustainable investing desires of our secret shoppers show that there is still work to be done when fulfilling the KYC recommendations that came into effect in Canada in 2021. The demand for sustainable investment is only expected to grow in the coming years. Many advisers in Canada need to train their staff to meet the needs of the investors that will be coming through their doors increasingly demanding sustainable investment products.  

In the coming years, clients will increasingly be looking for investments that meet both their investment and address sustainability issues facing the planet. Referencing the already cited Morgan Stanley individual investors survey in the introduction, 58% of global individual investors indicated that a financial advisor’s sustainability offering would have an impact on the likelihood of them selecting that advisor. For individual investors with heightened interest in sustainable investing, this percentage rises to 88%.  

ED4S is tackling the financial advisors’ sustainability skills gap.


ED4S has built one in its kind simulator, that allows financial advisors to practice their conversation with sustainability motivated investors and unlock new business opportunities. If you wish to join the waiting list for Beta testing of the simulator, please email us at


To whom is this relevant? 

This secret shopper study matters most to broker dealers, financial advisors and financial advisory firms.  

Investors are increasingly interested in sustainable investing options, and over time will gravitate to financial advisors who are knowledgeable enough to help them align their financial goals with their sustainable investing goals.  




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