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Nearly half of Millennial generation millionaires say they consider social responsibility as a factor when choosing investments, according to a new survey from Spectrem Group. That tilt toward socially responsible investing may force advisors and asset managers to decide how much capacity and expertise they need to build in this area.

Spectrem’s survey found that 49% of Millennial investors with more than $1 million in net worth reported they used socially responsible criteria to fill out their portfolios. Such interest waned with age – 43% of Generation X millionaires held the same view, followed by 34% of Baby Boomers and 27% of the oldest cohort, which the survey tags as “seniors.”

“That’s pretty compelling data,” says Mary Jane McQuillen, portfolio manager and head of environmental, social, and governance investing research at ClearBridge Investments. “If it was 10%, it might slightly move the needle. But 50% – you have to acknowledge that’s significant.”

The percentages grew for investors with less than $1 million in net worth in several cohorts, with 53% of Millennials citing socially responsible factors as a priority, along with 41% of Baby Boomers and 39% of seniors.

The greater appetite for younger investors seems logical on the surface, considering that older investors tend to be more conservative in outlook, says George Walper, president at Spectrem. Still, he says the younger generation’s leaning to socially responsible investing may stem not so much from a liberal outlook as from a world view shaped greatly by the tumult of the last 15 years.

“Younger people may be a little bit more in tune with social issues in general,” he says. “It might be interesting to see in 10 or 15 years that their views were significantly different. But this generation might not change their views, because [this mindset] has become a foundation of their thinking.”

Walper says events like the 2008 financial crisis, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and two overseas wars have cemented a wary take on the world by Millennials.

“They are far more aware about how the world impacts their lives, and that filters into their investing decisions and their relationships with advisors,” he says. “They are conservative from a financial standpoint, not socially conservative, and that’s a distinction a lot of people fail to consider.”

That cautious view translates into interest in social responsibility because these investors see the long-term impact of their investing choices, McQuillen says.

“They are interested in looking beyond the next five years in their investments,” she says. “They seem to make a mental correlation that supporting [socially responsible] companies will directly impact their lives.’”

The interest in socially responsible investing from older generations seems to be spurred by other factors, McQuillen says. Older investors in the Baby Boomer and senior generations tend to look at these investments “from a mentality of ‘giving back,’” she says. There is also a subset of Generation X-aged “inheritors” who apply a more socially sensitive mindset than older generations that built the family wealth.

It is the Millennials, however, who are driving the bus. “They’re the ones who have raised the question about whether these investments are available,” McQuillen says. “They’re not as dependent on their advisors to bring it up.”

That same phenomenon plays in the membership of the Institute for Private Investors, a networking organization for ultra-wealthy investors, says Mindy Rosenthal, IPI’s president. She says socially responsible investing and “venture philanthropy” are big themes of interest for members in their 20s and 30s, many of whom are children of other IPI members.

“They want measurable progress on social factors,” she says.

Another demographic in the IPI membership that favors social investing is people who live in the West, especially California and the Northwest region. Rosenthal says even the older generations in those regions are much more in tune with social investing than their counterparts on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

Translating the anecdotal information about investor interest into true asset data is still difficult. There are few widely accepted studies that have regularly tracked the overall level of socially responsible investing assets in recent years, and widely varying tallies.

The upshot for asset managers and advisors, however, is that social investing is likely to remain a strong interest for a lot of investors, Walper says. “Advisors should be able to discuss these investments,” he says. “They need to have their antennae up.”

They may not need to be experts, however. Rosenthal says advisors need to at least know the topic and be able to introduce their clients to specialists, just as with any niche area.

The job may get easier for both managers and advisors because social investing activity is reaching a tipping point, McQuillen says. Older investors are gaining confidence in data around socially responsible investment performance, helping to solidify demand. And more platform sponsors are adding to their menus, giving advisors a far wider range of products to select for client portfolios, she says.

“You have a swirling demand that builds up to a crescendo,” she adds. “The supply side is beginning to respond to the demand side. Before, we didn’t have an outlet to place those assets and guidance on how to find them.”