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Vigeo Eiris News - 10/10/2012

Socially Responsible Investment – does France care?

Over 50% of French retail investors think environmental, social and ethical criteria are important when making financial decisions in a new survey published for the French national ethical investment week today. Only 6% know precisely what Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) is.

The national online consumer survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of non-profit research organisation EIRIS and the Forum pour l’Investissement Responsable (FIR), the French social investment forum, explores public attitudes to socially responsible investment (SRI) in France. It also marks the launch of the third national SRI week in France.

The survey suggests that SRI may hold the key to helping to rebuild public trust in financial institutions with 53% of respondents saying that confidence in their financial institution would increase if it adopted an SRI approach.

The survey also underlines the growing importance that the French public place on SRI in France with 52% of survey respondents saying they attach either ‘great importance’ or ‘some importance’ to incorporating environmental, social and ethical issues when selecting financial products. However, the survey identifies a lack of awareness of SRI financial products as a key barrier to SRI with 66% of respondents saying they have never heard of an SRI fund.

The survey results also show that the French public recognise that many of the sustainability themes which SRI investment funds take into account will impact upon the global economy, with 76% agreeing that growing world population will have a negative impact; 75% agreeing that climate change will have a negative impact; and 68% agreeing access to water will have a negative impact.

Marion de Marcillac, Client Relationship Manager at EIRIS France said: “SRI is clearly important to the French public and it offers huge potential to rebuild public trust in financial intuitions. These national survey results should therefore serve as a wake up call to encourage financial institutions to make SRI funds more visible and provide more information as to how SRI funds deliver a positive impact to encourage more people to choose SRI funds”. “EIRIS is very pleased to support once again the French SRI week with this survey” she continued.

“The survey shows that we were right when we decided in 2010 to launch the first SRI week in France for retail investors. There is a latent demand for SRI funds amongst a significant number of retail investors, still unmet. French distribution networks of financial products should develop offers to meet this clients’ demand” added Bertrand Fournier, president of the FIR, the French Social Investment Forum.

key survey findings:

Importance of SRI

  • 14% of the public who hold at least one saving accounts say they attach great importance to the incorporation of environmental, social and ethical issues into their investment decisions. A further 38% say they attach some importance
  • 27% of respondents say they would be ready to invest part of their savings in an SRI fund if it was suggested to them

Continued lack of awareness

  • 66% of those surveyed said they have never heard of SRI. Only 6% know precisely what SRI is; 28% said they have heard of the concept but could not define it
  • 9% of the respondents have already heard about an SRI label(s)

SRI: a driver for increased trust

  • 30% of respondents say they do not really trust their financial institution or that they do not trust it at all
  • 53% of respondents say that if their financial institution adopted an SRI approach, this would increase their confidence in them
  • In particular, a financial institution being clearer and more transparent about how their savings are managed would increase the confidence of 75% of the respondents. 59% of the respondents would be more trusting if their financial institution was trying to positively influence corporates’ behaviour through their investment decisions; and 55% of the respondents would be more confident if their financial institution committed to take into consideration environmental, social and ethical issues in their investment decisions

SRI: an approach likely to attract new clients?

  • 25% of the respondents say they would likely or very likely transfer their investment products to a financial institution that offered many SRI product

An SRI label, a decisive factor when choosing a fund

  • Whether a fund has an SRI label would be a decisive factor for 55% of the respondents when making their choice. This figure goes up to 86% for the French retail investors ready to invest part of their savings in an SRI fund if it was proposed to them

The survey also explores the extent to which consumers feel that many of the sustainability themes which SRI investment funds seek to address will impact upon the global economy.
When asked ‘What impact, if any, do you think each of the following will have on the global economy in the next 10 years’:

  • 79% of the full sample said fossil fuels scarcity will have a negative impact on the global economy;
  • 76% said growing world population will have a negative impact
  • 75% said climate change will have a negative impact
  • 68% said access to water will have a negative impact
  • 67% said availability of agricultural raw material will have a negative impact
  • 67% said aging population will have a negative impact
Download :
icon-download-34x36 French consumers attitude towards SRI
Keywords : ESG, France, Partnerships