Three-time RI award-winner excited about growing RI financial literacy education

'It's going to take more than just my clients doing it if we're going to have an impact'

Three-time RI award-winner excited about growing RI financial literacy education

Even though Sonia LeRoy is pleased to have won The Sun life Global Investments Award for Advisor of the Year – Responsible Investments for the third time this year, what she’s most excited about these days is the broad range of financial literacy outreach she’s doing about responsible investing.

“My focus has really been to drill down on financial literacy education among my clients, among the general investing public, and among other advisors,” LeRoy, a senior wealth advisor for the Ottawa-based The LeRoy Wealth Management Group with IPC Securities Inc., told Wealth Professional.

“I feel it’s important to be able to align your money with your values. Money is so powerful. You can make change that way. And it’s going to take far more than just my clients doing it if we’re going to have an impact.”

LeRoy noted that the 2022 trends report that the Responsible Investment Association published at the end of last year spelled out how widespread interest now is in responsible investing. But the landscape has also become increasingly complex, so she thinks financial literacy education on responsible investing now is more important than it’s ever been.

LeRoy addressed sustainable investing on Chris Reynolds’ Turning the Page podcast for IPC, which features one implementable idea for advisors to use in every episode. She focused on where advisors can begin. She also wrote a case study on responsible investing for Advocis’s update this year. She also participated in IPC’s annual conference last fall, its first since the pandemic.

“We’re trying to educate other advisors about how to integrate responsible investing into their financial planning practice,” said LeRoy.

In the meantime, she’s continuing to educate her clients through her newsletter and when meeting with them. She’s also stepped up her social media campaign and revamped her responsible investing framework, available on her webpage, so it’s more in line with the new framework on responsible investing that the Canadian Investment Funds Standards Committee (CIFSC) recently issued.

“I find it fantastic to have this extra guidance and have this framework, but it’s not the framework I would have chosen,” said LeRoy.

“So, I revamped my own framework to stay within the context of the direction the regulator seemed to be going to help provide a little more clarity and made is as simple as I can, so people can really understand the differences between ESG and engagement and values-based exclusion and impact investing. Those are really all different types of responsible investing and there’s a lot of education needed to be able to understand the landscape thoroughly.”

What LeRoy has noticed, though, is the more educational outreach she does, the more inquiries and referrals she’s getting from new clients. This continues the trend that she noted during the pandemic when her business kept growing with people who wanted to do responsible investing.

LeRoy, who is licensed in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and awaiting her BC license, is open to expanding her business to where her new clients are coming from, too.

It’s an exciting time because she’s already working with her nephew Adrian LeRoy, who was a finalist for the Young Achiever of the Year award this year, in the business. Her daughter, Rowan Hughes, who is completing her graduate certificate in financial planning, may join the practice, too.

“Rowan’s passionate about responsible investing. She’s been my responsible investing financial literacy coordinator for about five years now, helping to run my newsletter program and my social media,” said LeRoy.

“She just completed her degree in international development and political economy and is so excited about the power of money to change things from here, and responsible investing is the answer for her. So, I’m excited because we’re definitely on the same page in terms of our passion about helping our clients align their money with their values and bringing that message to the world.”

As for LeRoy, she already co-authored one book, Financial Success for Women by Women, in 2020, but thinks there’s another book in her future because she’d like to expand on the chapter she wrote on aligning money with values through responsible investing.

She’s also just published her first video on greenwashing. But, she said, “there will be more such educational-oriented video content with respect to responsible investing this year.”

LeRoy still attributes all of her family’s interest in using money to help the world to her stock broker grandmother, who launched her on this path.

“She was inspirational to all of us,” she said. “She’s the one who taught me to vote your proxies and take responsibility for what you own. Your money is power – and look at the legacy that she’s left.”