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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details

Lai, Karen P.Y. (2016). Financial advisors, financial ecologies and the variegated financialisation of everyday investors. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 41(1): 27-40.

Author(s) from Durham


While recent work on financialisation of everyday life has elucidated the reshaping of everyday consumers as risk‐taking investors, the role of financial advisors (FAs) has been overlooked, even though they are key intermediaries in articulating households and individuals into circuits of global finance. Through a financial ecologies approach, this paper focuses on FAs to reveal the ambiguities and inconsistencies inherent in their professional practice as varied modes of corporate management and organisational practices lead to differentiated encounters that shape the financial knowledge and investment decisions of clients. Empirical analysis is based on industry reports, regulatory documents, personal interviews and ethnographic fieldwork at professional training and networking events. The findings demonstrate how professional intermediaries like FAs are vital in explaining the shifting and uneven configuration of investor subjects. A critical analysis of FAs reveals how the decision making process and investment practices of consumers are fraught with knowledge asymmetries and embedded in distinctive financial ecologies with variegated outcomes. The ecologies concept is mobilised to explain the resilience or fragility of relational formations, the entanglement of diverse elements and motivations in the variegated formation of investor subjects, and the operation of constitutive ecologies within the financial system.