Investors of all ages are interested in environmental, social and governance investing—or ESG—but advisors apparently are not bringing up the subject with them.

According to a recent study by Allianz Global Investors, only 14 percent of 1,061 investors with at least $100,000 in investable assets who were surveyed had had a conversation with their advisors about ESG investing, and 61 percent of the clients had to bring up the subject themselves.

“There has been some progress among advisors with bringing up the subject,” says Anthony Eames, vice president and director of responsible investment strategy for Calvert, a firm that focuses on responsible investing. “But advisors need to be educated to the fact that their clients are interested in these issues.”

There is not as much worry among clients about performance as there used to be, he adds, since numerous studies have shown that ESG-focused portfolios perform as well or better than traditional portfolios.

ESG, sustainable and impact investing, or socially responsible investing, as the discipline is known, has been growing quickly as it becomes better known. By the end of 2016, there was $9 billion invested in these companies and funds in the United States alone, says Allianz, but that is still only a tiny part of the overall market.

“This is a huge opportunity for advisors to stand out,” says Christian McCormick, ESG specialist for Allianz Global Investors. “For older advisors who want to stay in the business another 10 years, it is a unique opportunity to bridge the generation gap and to generate new leads.”

For advisors who want to differentiate themselves with an ESG focus, a key is to prominently display it on their firms’ websites, McCormick adds. They can also show their investment strategies through blog posts and social media.

There are several reasons advisors may not be bringing up the subject of ESG and socially responsible investing, or SRI, says Erika Karp, founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group based in New York City. Cornerstone is an advisory firm that focuses on sustainable investing for institutions, wealthy families and individuals.

“Advisors may be intimidated by the language because they find it politicized or divisive, or they may not have the expertise they need,” says Karp, “because it does take an expertise to do it properly.

“They also may not want to push their views on their clients or they may not have access to sustainable and impact investments, so they are reluctant to engage clients,” she adds.

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