Investors wary of AI for investment decisions: survey

By Jonathan Got | February 29, 2024 | Last updated on February 29, 2024
3 min read
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Canadian investors are split on the relative risks and opportunities of using AI to make investment decisions, but most agree on the need for transparency about its use, according to a new report from the Responsible Investment Association (RIA).

RIA’s eighth annual Investor Opinion Survey, released Thursday, found that while 46% of investors surveyed see AI primarily as a new risk in the decision-making process, 11% see it as an opportunity and 43% see it as both.

However, nearly three quarters (74%) of Canadian investors “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that fund managers should encourage investment firms to provide transparency and data on how they are using and investing in AI.

“Findings highlight that while AI is an area of interest for most investors, the vast majority are
also concerned about its associated risks,” the report’s conclusion stated. “Efforts will be required to ensure AI tools are used in an ethical and transparent manner.

It is the first time the annual survey asked about the use of AI in investment decision-making.

Six in 10 respondents said they are either “not very” or “not likely at all” to rely exclusively on AI-based research tools to make investment decisions, compared to a third of respondents who said they are “very” or “somewhat likely” to do so, and 8% who were unsure.

Younger people are more likely to turn to AI for investment counsel, a finding that is consistent with their higher reported familiarity with AI applications. Of those aged 18 to 34, 53% said they are “very” or “somewhat likely” to rely on AI-based tools, compared to just 10% of those aged 55 or older.

Households with children are almost twice as likely (49%) to turn to AI, compared to those without kids (25%).

Mitigation and transparency

Almost eight in 10 (79%) respondents said it is important that investment firms identify and mitigate potential risks associated with AI. About half said it is important for firms to both invest in the continued development of the technology and make use of it in their products or services.

Older respondents are less enthusiastic about the importance of companies in their portfolio investing in AI. Only 36% of those aged 55 and up call it important, compared to 59% of those aged 35 to 54, and 61% of those aged 18 to 34.

Men are more likely than women to describe AI investment as important (56% to 48% respectively).

Some 59% said they want fund managers to encourage companies to use AI ethically. Younger people, men and those with children are more likely to “somewhat” or “strongly” agree with that statement.

Knowledge and service gaps

With regard to the more traditional metrics covered by the annual survey, some 65% of investors surveyed said they are either “very” or “somewhat” interested in responsible investing, down from 73% in 2021. The survey also found that many investors know little about the subject and that financial services providers don’t offer responsible investing options as often as investors would like.

Seven in 10 respondents said they know little or nothing about it responsible investing, with 21% going as far as to say they’ve never heard the term. That’s similar to responses in 2021. One third of investors own responsible investment assets, a fraction that has remained consistent since 2020.

As in previous years, the proportion of investors who want to learn more about responsible investing is higher than those who report being asked by their advisors if they are interested. Only 32% of investors said their financial services provider ever discussed responsible investing, compared to the 67% of investors who said they would like this to happen.

To narrow the service gap, advisors should improve their knowledge of responsible investing and initiate discussions with their clients, the RIA said.

The report was based on findings from an Ipsos poll from Nov. 24 to 28, 2023, of 1,001 Canadian investors who owned investments at the time the poll was conducted. The full report is available online.

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Jonathan Got

Jonathan Got is a reporter with and its sister publication, Investment Executive. Reach him at