Canadian investors wary of AI in investments, survey finds

New survey reveals 79% of Canadian investors demand AI risk mitigation in their portfolios

Canadian investors wary of AI in investments, survey finds

In a survey conducted by the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) and announced on Newswire Canada, a significant sentiment among Canadian retail investors towards artificial intelligence (AI) and responsible investment (RI) was uncovered.

The survey, conducted through an Ipsos poll of 1,001 individual investors in Canada, highlighted a predominant concern over AI, viewing it more as a risk to responsible investment decisions than an opportunity.

According to the 2023 RIA Investor Opinion Survey, a striking 79 percent of investors emphasized the necessity for companies within their portfolios to identify and actively mitigate potential risks associated with AI.

Additionally, 74 percent of respondents expressed a strong desire for transparency from these companies about how they are utilizing and investing in AI technology.

The survey also shed light on the issue of greenwashing, showing a slight decrease in concern among investors, with 68 percent now very or somewhat concerned, down from 75 percent in the previous year.  

Despite this reduction, a robust 69 percent of participants still believe that RI can significantly impact the economy and drive positive societal change.

A notable finding from the survey is the demand for information about RI options from financial service providers, with two-thirds of investors wanting to be informed about RI opportunities that align with their values.

This is in stark contrast to the less than one-third of respondents who reported that their advisors had discussed these options with them. RI ownership has remained steady since 2020, with one-third of those surveyed indicating they currently hold RI investments.

Patricia Fletcher, CEO of the RIA, pointed out the disconnect between investors' interests in RI and their actual knowledge on the subject.

“Retail investors are interested in responsible investment and want their portfolios to reflect their concerns about social and environmental issues,” Fletcher stated, highlighting the opportunity for financial advisors to educate themselves and their clients on RI options that align with their preferences and personal values.

The survey, sponsored by AGF Investments and Desjardins Investments, also revealed demographic trends in RI interest. Younger investors and females showed greater interest than older and male respondents, respectively.

Yet, 70 percent of those surveyed admitted to knowing little or nothing about RI, including 21 percent who had never heard of it.

Reflecting on the survey, Judy Goldring, president, and head of global distribution at AGF Management Ltd., and Sébastien Vallée, President and CEO of Desjardins Investments, acknowledged the importance of addressing the concerns surrounding AI and RI.

Goldring stated, “We're proud to once again sponsor a survey that inspires meaningful dialogue about RI, while covering timely topics like greenwashing and the perceived risks of AI.”

Vallée added, “The results of the questions asked for the first time on Artificial Intelligence speak volumes—investors want to be informed of the issues surrounding the use of AI and perceive AI more as a risk than an opportunity.”

Furthermore, the survey illuminated that 67 percent of respondents would like their financial services provider to inform them about RI options, but only 32 percent said their provider had ever broached the subject.

Concerns about greenwashing continue to deter interest in RI, although the level of concern has slightly decreased from the previous year.