Financial professionals and sustainability preferences

Last registered on April 07, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Financial professionals and sustainability preferences
Initial registration date
June 18, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
June 18, 2020, 11:19 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
April 07, 2022, 8:07 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

Radboud University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Maastricht University
PI Affiliation
Maastricht University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Online experiment to examine whether financial advisors exploit knowledge about clients’ characteristics, including their gender and their preference for socially responsible investments, in order to strategically charge fees. We recruit samples of finance professionals and clients. Our study has important implications. The European Commission has proposed a regulation, which requires all financial institutions to measure the willingness of their clients to invest in a sustainable manner. This is now to be included in MiFid II. In this proposal, we suggest that a negative side effect of this legislation could be that financial advisors use the knowledge on the preferences for sustainable investments to overcharge sustainably-minded clients. We further explore whether stereotypes of clients affect the fee that is charged to them and the time and diligence that advisors spend in constructing portfolios on their behalf.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Laudi, Marten, Paul Smeets and Utz Weitzel. 2022. "Financial professionals and sustainability preferences." AEA RCT Registry. April 07.
Experimental Details


We employ a within-subject design. All financial professionals select stocks and set fees for clients that differ along several dimensions, including gender and sustainability preferences.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The fees that advisors charge to different clients.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We expect fees to be higher for those for clients with sustainability preferences and to females. We expect this to be mediated by advisors’ perceptions about the clients, which we measure along different dimensions.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Content of advised portfolios; Description of created portfolios; Time spent in constructing portfolios
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
• Content: We will check whether there is a systematic difference in content of the portfolios that can be related to clients’ characteristics. For example: Are portfolios of sustainably-minded clients more likely to include stocks with high sustainability scores?
• Descriptions: For example: Are advisors more likely to “oversell” portfolios with the use of sustainability-related language to sustainably-minded clients? Do they selectively use technical vs. emotional language depending on a client’s profile?
• Time: Do advisors spend different amounts of time in constructing portfolios for different clients? For example: Do they spend more time on advice for men than for women?

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Within-subject design. Field experiment.
Experimental Design Details
Our experimental design consists of two stages. In the first stage, we will ask financial professionals (FPs) to give investment advice to a real client that we randomly assign to them. Clients vary in different characteristics, including their sustainability preferences and their gender. FPs see these characteristics, together with clients’ risk preferences and information on demographics. FPs then construct a portfolio of stocks on behalf of the clients. Finally, FPs set an advisory fee that they would charge in case the assigned client wants to take the advice. In the second stage, clients are endowed with an investment budget of $1,000 that they can decide whether to:
1. Take the advice of their FP. In this case, they will pay the advisory fee to the advisor.
2. Select a portfolio of stocks by themselves, without seeing their FP’s advice.
The selected investment will be relevant for the payment of every 10th client (randomly selected). The performance of the clients’ investments are tracked over the following twelve months and are paid based on the return. For the selected clients, $1000 worth of stocks will be purchased in real life according to the selection made by the participant.
-> In addition we conduct a prediction survey, in which we ask relevant subjects to predict the outcome of our study.
-> In addition we conduct a follow-up study (for details see description in the docs and materials section).
Randomization Method
Software (for balancing within subject and other random draws).
Randomization Unit
Individual (within subject design)
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
at least 150 observations (within subject); higher N depends on budget constraints
Sample size: planned number of observations
at least 150 observations (within subject); higher N depends on budget constraints
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
at least 150 observations (within subject); higher N depends on budget constraints
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Maastricht University Ethical Review Committee Inner City Faculties
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information


Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials