Carried out for the fourth consecutive year, the national online survey2, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of social enterprise and global SRI research organisation EIRIS and the Forum pour l’Investissement Responsable (FIR), the French social investment forum, explores public attitudes to socially responsible investment (SRI). It also marks the launch of the fourth national SRI week in France.
While 50% of investors surveyed say that they now consider as very important (13%) or important (38%) environmental, social and ethical issues in their investment decisions, only 39% of respondents have heard of Socially Responsible Investment before the survey 3.
The interest of French people in this type of investment, which among other things allows the integration of sustainable development principles into investment practice, is, however, real: 17% declare that they would invest a portion of their savings in SRI if it was offered to them. It is particularly interesting to note that the more investors are familiar with the concept, the higher their intention to purchase is, rising to 23% for investors who have at least heard of SRI4. SRI products are seldom promoted by financial institutions: only 2% of investors surveyed say they have been offered SRI products by their bank or advisor.
French confidence in their financial institution remains low with 35% of respondents saying they do not have much or any confidence in their financial institution; those respondents who might label themselves as “suspicious people” are 7% greater in 2013 than in 2012. SRI may hold the key to helping rebuild public confidence in financial institutions with 54% of respondents saying that confidence in their financial institution would increase if it adopted an SRI approach.
Despite this lack of confidence in financial institutions, the most trusted source of information on SRI is their financial advisor for 42% of respondents, followed by NGOs and consumer associations (27%) and then press and media (17%).
The involvement of public authorities could play a decisive role in the growth of SRI in France, considering that 31% of respondents think that the existence of a government supported label would be an incentive them to choose an SRI product. Finally, more than half (58%) of respondents are in favour of the mandatory inclusion of a part of SRI in savings products.
Marion Marcillac, EIRIS Head of client services for Europe said “This fourth survey shows again that the French only need to be better informed about socially responsible investing to get them to embrace the concept and devote a portion of their savings to it. It is essential that distribution networks become more a driving force and that all SRI actors strengthen their efforts to educate and explain to the general public what SRI is. This is why we are very pleased to collaborate with the FIR in the context of the SRI Week.”
Notes to editors
1. Results from a previous Ipsos2012 are available
2. The National Online Consumer Survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the social enterprise research organisation EIRIS, to gauge current interest in SRI products among French consumers, explore attitudes to responsible finance; and identify current barriers to investing. A sample of 1001 French adults aged between 16 and 75 years responded to the online survey across France. Amongst the original sample, a first filter was applied to survey only those holding at least one financial product, resulting in a final sample of 901 retail investors (“respondents”). Fieldwork was conducted using an online method and took place between September 20 and September 22 2012. Data have been weighted to the known population of France.
3. Out of a base of 624 persons who did not know SRI before the survey.
4. Out of a base of 332 adults aged 16-75 who have at least heard of SRI and have not been consulted about responsible investment by a bank or financial adviser.
5. Supported by the French ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy, the third SRI week in France is organised by the French Social Investment Forum (FIR), whose mission is to promote SRI, in partnership with numerous SRI actors. The SRI week allows individuals and professionals to understand SRI better, its aims and processes and its issues through events organised in France during that week.
6. EIRIS is a leading global provider of independent responsible investment research. EIRIS’ responsible investment services are used by more than 200 asset owners, asset managers, banks, stock brokers, governments and charities from across Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. We work with major index providers around the world including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Mexican Stock Exchange. Our sector-based research teams provide in-depth coverage of around 3,500 companies globally, covering over 110 different environment, social and governance areas. In addition to our offices in London, Paris, Boston and Washington, D.C., our global network of partners enables us to further extend our research coverage. The EIRIS global platform includes partners in Australia, France, Israel, Germany, Mexico, Spain, South Africa and South Korea.
7. The French Social Investment Forum (FIR) is a multi-stakeholder association (Asset owners, asset managers, rating agencies, brokers, associations…) established in 2001. Its main objective is to promote SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) and its best practices. FIR is coordinating the French SRI Week (www.semaine-isr.fr) and CorDial (Corporate Dialogue) an engagement platform with French listed companies. FIR is also a founding member of Eurosif. Website: frenchsif.org