For the fifth consecutive year, the national survey conducted online by Ipsos for EIRIS (a global leader in corporate environmental, social and governance analysis) and the FIR (the French Forum for Responsible Investment) explores the French public’s interest in Socially Responsible Investment (SRI). The results of this survey were presented on 23 September at the launch of the fifth edition of the SRI Week in France, celebrated at the National Assembly.
While more than half of the investors surveyed (52% in 2014, 50% in 2013) continue to consider that environmental, social and ethical issues in their investment decisions are very important (11%) or important (41%), only 37% had ever heard of SRI before the survey, and only 6% claim to know exactly what it is.
However, the interest of the French public for this type of investment, which integrates the principles of sustainable development in addition to traditional financial measures, remains a reality: 20%2 declare that they are willing to invest a portion of their savings in SRI if they were offered this as an option, which is 3 percent higher than in 2013. The survey also demonstrates that the more familiar investors are with the concept, the higher their purchasing intention is, rising to 29% for investors who know a little about SRI 3.
SRI options are still not highlighted enough by financial institutions: only 3% of investors surveyed were offered this type of investment by their bank or financial adviser. It is worth noting that among the 2% of respondents having already invested in an SRI fund, 43% had been offered SRI4.
For a third of the French public, SRI would increase their confidence in their financial institution
The French people’s confidence in their financial institution remains low, as 33% of respondents say they do not really have, or do not have any, confidence in their financial institution. However, this group is slightly fewer in number than in 2013, when they were 35% of those surveyed. Promoting SRI approaches should be of interest to financial institutions as almost half of respondents (49%), indicated that SRI would likely increase their confidence in financial institutions themselves.
The call for greater involvement of financial institutions in promoting SRI is all the more legitimate as the survey finds that financial advisers are the best source of information on SRI (for 43% of respondents, followed by NGOs and consumer associations (27%), relatives, friends and family of those surveyed (16%) and finally press and media (13%)).
Public authorities encouraged to promote SRI
The involvement of public authorities could play a decisive role in the growth of SRI in France. Nearly thirty percent (30%) of respondents consider that the existence of a government-supported label would entice them to choose SRI. Nearly three out of five (60%) are also in favour of the mandatory inclusion of some SRI in savings products.
Marion de Marcillac, Head of Client Services for EIRIS in Europe said “the results of this latest survey are consistent with previous ones. The French only need more information on Socially Responsible Investment to embrace the concept and devote a portion of their savings to it. It is more than ever essential that all those involved in SRI strengthen their efforts to educate and explain to the general public what SRI is and that distribution networks become a larger driving force.”
Bertrand Fournier, Chairman of the FIR adds: “This year the survey shows that all distribution networks of financial products must rally around SRI. Some actors have already begun this process and it is bearing fruit. The other key lesson from this survey is that the French expect a stronger commitment from public authorities. They favour a label supported by the authorities and clearly very supportive of the mandatory inclusion of SRI into their favorite savings products, such as life insurance. ”
Marion de Marcillac
Head of client services Europe
Tel: +33 (0)1 48 03 92 24
Tél: + 33 (0)9 72 27 23 08
Mob: + 33 (0)6 65 00 57 75
Notes to editors
1. The National Online Consumer Survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of non-profit 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 2010 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 1810 retail investors (“respondents”). Fieldwork was conducted using an online method and took place between September 08th and 10th of September 2014. Data have been weighted to the known population of adults aged 16-75 in France.
2. Results based on 1655 person who have never invested in SRI.
3. Results based on 528 people who know little SRI.
4. Results based on 41 people who invested in SRI. Base below 100, interpreted with caution.
5. Supported by the French ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy, the fifth 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 investors, including 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. EIRIS research covers c. 3,300 companies in Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region. In addition to offices in the US, UK and France, our global network of research partners enables us to further extend our research coverage. The EIRIS partner network includes organisations in Australia, France, Israel, Germany, Mexico, Spain 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 (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