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Press Releases - 02/10/2015

6th national survey – Ipsos for EIRIS and the FIR, The French and Socially Responsible Investment (SRI)

A new survey published today shows that more than half of French consumers aged 16-75 are concerned by the environmental and social implications of their investment choices, while 63% of them have never heard of SRI and only 3% have been offered SRI products by their financial service providers. These figures are significantly different for retail investors with savings and investments in forms where SRI is better established (employee savings vehicles, stocks, mutual investment funds…)1.

For the sixth consecutive year, the national survey conducted online by Ipsos on behalf of EIRIS, a global leader in environmental, social and corporate governance research, and the FIR, French Forum for Responsible Investment, has explored the French public’s interest in SRI.

Around half of the retail investors surveyed (51% in 2015) continue to give a very important place (11%) or an important place (40%) to environmental, social and ethical criteria in their financial investment decisions. This figure rises to 57% for respondents who are enrolled in employee savings schemes

[2] and 59% for those who hold shares in mutual investment funds[3] (OPCVMs or SICAVs).

As in the previous years’ surveys, the results reveal an untapped potential of SRI in France, which contrasts with the real interest of French consumers for such products. It is particularly noteworthy that, the more consumers know about SRI, the more they are prepared to invest in it when invited to do so: 23% of those who know SRI a little, and 37% of those who know it well, express an interest in SRI investments[4]. There is a substantial contrast between these figures and the currently low take-up rate of SRI: only 2% of respondents state that they possessed SRI products. Among those respondents who invest in mutual funds, 26% know SRI well, 28% state that they are interested and 9% currently possess SRI products.

 

SRI is largely unknown to the general public… but slightly better known to active savers

In 2015, 67% of respondents had never heard of SRI before the survey. It is however possible that some respondents do not identify their savings as being “SRI”, especially in areas like life insurance or employee savings schemes. On the other hand, this lack of awareness drops to 55% for those enrolled in employee savings schemes, to 43% for investors in mutual funds and to 42% for respondents investing in the stock markets[5].

The promotion of SRI products by financial institutions plays a key role: they could still do more to provide customers with better and clearer information on SRI. As in 2014, very few French consumers have been offered SRI products by their financial advisors (3%) or at least did not recognise them as such. For more active investors however, this figure rises, reaching 13% for respondents owning shares in mutual funds.

In 2015, one respondent in two sees their financial advisor as the best placed person to inform them about socially responsible investment (46%), followed by NGOs and consumer groups (23%), family and friends (18%) and the media (14%).

Promoting SRI makes all the more sense when, while one respondent out of three does not trust his or her financial service provider (29%), SRI represents a lever to increase trust in providers – according to 44% of all respondents surveyed and over half of those (55%) who already know the concept.

 

The decisive role of public authorities in promoting SRI

The intervention of public authorities should play a decisive role in the growth of SRI in France. A SRI label accredited by the state could be a determining factor in choosing SRI products, as 27% of respondents consider that the existence of such a label would encourage them to choose SRI. This proportion is even higher among respondents who know SRI a little (37%) or well (51%) and among those who invest in shares or mutual investment funds (45%).

Similarly, over half of respondents (54%) are in favour of making the inclusion of a SRI portion in savings products, such as life insurance and share-based savings plans, compulsory. Here again, the pattern is even stronger among those who invest in shares (61%) and mutual funds (68%).

Johanna Hariri, Senior Client Relationship Manager for Europe at EIRIS commented: “This year once again, we see that the lack of information and awareness around SRI seems to be the main obstacle stopping the French public from embracing the concept more strongly. We hope that financial institutions and distribution networks will multiply their efforts to explain and promote SRI to the public in the year to come”.

Grégoire Cousté, Delegate-General of the FIR added: “The SRI Label supported by the French state and the European training programme B for financial advisors, two initiatives that are due to be rolled out in 2016, will make it possible to reconcile the supply of SRI products with the latent demand that this survey demonstrates year on year”.

A presentation providing more details on the main results of the survey and a printable PDF version of this press release are available here.

 

Press Contacts:

EIRIS 

Johanna Hariri
Senior Client Relationship Manager, Europe
Johanna.Hariri@eiris.org
Tel: +33 (0)1 48 03 92 24
FIR

Grégoire Cousté
Delegate-General
gregoire.couste@frenchsif.org
Tel : + 33 (0)1 40 36 61 58

 

Notes to editors

A. The National Online Consumer Survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of research organisation EIRIS, to gauge current awareness of and interest in SRI products among French consumers, identify the importance that they give to environmental and social criteria in their investment choices, and identify current motivations and barriers to investing. A sample of 1100 French adults aged between 16 and 75 years responded to the online survey from across France. Amongst the original sample, a first filter was applied to survey only those owning at least one financial product, resulting in a final sample of 950 retail investors (“respondents”) or 86% of the original sample. Fieldwork was conducted using an online method and took place between September 04th and 08th of September 2015. Data have been weighted to be representative of current demographic trends of adults aged 16 to 75 in France.

B. The professional training programme on socially responsible investment is a project to create a training program on SRI for financial advisors, banking advisors and wealth management advisors. A European project, this training programme is being developed in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom by nine partners from these different countries. All are specialists in responsible investment and are contributing their knowledge of the development of this form of asset management in each of these countries to the programme. In France, the FIR has joined forces with Novethic to promote the training program to financial institutions and their advisors.

C. Under the patronage of the French Ministry for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy and the Ministry of Finance and Public Accounts, the sixth French SRI Week (www.semaine-isr.fr) is organised by the Forum for Responsible Investment (Forum pour l’Investissement Responsable). The SRI Week allows all, members of the public as well as professionals, to better understand Socially Responsible Investment, its aims, its methods, and the issues surrounding it through Socially Responsible Investment themed events taking place during one week everywhere in France.

D. EIRIS is a leading global provider of independent research into the environmental, social, governance (ESG) and ethical performance of companies. Wholly owned by the EIRIS Foundation, EIRIS provides responsible investment services to over 200 clients including asset owners, asset managers, banks, wealth managers and charities. We have over 30 years’ experience of promoting responsible investment. EIRIS has offices in London, Paris and Washington, D.C. and works with a global network of partners to further extend our research and sales coverage.

E. The FIR is a French multi stakeholder association whose mission is to promote SRI, Socially Responsible Investment. The FIR brings together all parts of the SRI value chain: investors, asset management firms, brokers, non-financial rating agencies, investment advisors, trade associations and trade unions. The FIR organises the SRI Week. In 2010, the FIR launched Cordial, a platform for dialogue between listed companies on sustainable development questions. The FIR is, together with the AFG – the French Asset Management Association – and Eurosif, one of the creators of the Transparency Code. The FIR is a founding member of Eurosif. frenchsif.org .

 

[1] The percentages relating to French retail investors in employee saving schemes, shares and mutual investment funds (OPCVMs) should be interpreted with some caution due to the small sample sizes within the overall panel of respondents (respectively 180, 93 and 56). Nevertheless, the trends identified by the survey are perfectly clear and coherent.[2] Base 180[3] Base 56[4] In response to the question “If you were offered it, would you invest a part of your savings in socially responsible investment (SRI)?” 23% of respondents knowing SRI a little (sample of 236) and 37% of those knowing SRI well (sample of 69 – under 100: interpret with caution) responded in the affirmative.[5] Respectively base 180, 56 and 93.
Keywords : Report, United Kingdom