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Scott McKenna, ETFLogic

It’s all about Social Responsibility

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Scott McKenna, director, ETFLogic, reports from the US from the latest Inside ETFs conference…

This year’s inside ETFs conference brought out a new type of energy that’s taking over the industry. Between the latest advancements with active ETF wrappers and the ETF Rule, and all of the talk around ESG investing, there is an overall sense that we are about to see significant innovation and growth. But it’s not just the ETF Issuers and ETF service providers who are going to witness a lot of change in the coming year due to advancements in ETFs.

The adviser community and financial services as a whole are in the midst of a drastic makeover, and it is clear there is one theme that is driving all of the conversations: social responsibility. Headlines about firm-wide initiatives to move into more environmentally and socially responsible investments have dominated the news. But underneath all that, there needs to be a much more personal conversation around social responsibility amongst industry participants.

As many know, the financial services community is comprised of mainly white males between the ages of 40-60. To be exact, the average investment adviser is a white male, aged 51. Not exactly a historically underprivileged demographic. At inside ETFs, I noticed a lot of the conversations revolved around not only the need to change that – but how we can go about doing it. One of the most compelling presentations was from financial consultant Tyrone Ross. Tyrone has made it a mission of his to lead industry initiatives such as raising USD10,000 for the abandoned children of Broward county at the Inside ETFs event and leading Exponential ETFs “Detroit Invests in You” financial literacy program alongside CEO Phil Bak. Tyrone has also been pushing to make the industry realise just how privileged we are, and how we can use that privilege as a tool to help those in need.

Tyrone is not alone in these efforts. Many others in the FinTwit community, such as Sonya Dreizler and her “do better” campaign to call out discriminatory and sexist industry behaviour, and organisations such as Women in ETFs and many others, have also been using their industry platform to discuss social responsibility and diversity within the industry.

As more and more investment advisers are moving away from the wirehouses and into their own independent practices, they NEED to take responsibility and be generous to not just their clients but the whole community. While many parts of an investment adviser’s role will change with advancing technology, a compassionate experience and strong client relationship will be the key to investment adviser success. These conversations around social responsibility are an essential part of this evolvement.

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