As part of HEC Montréal’s call for research projects on Pensions, Household Finance Wellness and Retirement Research, the project “The impact of unintended discrimination in financial advice on wealth accumulation”, led by Christine Laudenbach, Director of the Household Finance Research Department at the Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE, Markus Eyting, and Florian Hett, both from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, was selected for an 18-month research grant from HEC Montréal.
The project investigates (mis)perceptions and stereotypes about different social groups and how they affect the process of investment advice. By developing and applying novel experimental techniques, the researchers aim to measure the existence and structure of misperceptions regarding investment-related characteristics and their effect on actual financial advice. While many studies consider "tastes" as a necessary prerequisite causing discriminatory outcomes, systematic misperceptions may lead to discrimination even if professionals give advice “to the best of their knowledge” and without bad intentions. Ultimately, misperceptions and stereotypes may thus constitute particularly subtle and hidden factors underlying differences in wealth accumulation across social groups.