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The French and SRI: Results of the 8th National Survey run by Ipsos for Vigeo Eiris and the FIR

What is the level of knowledge and interest of French people in SRI? What are the key trends and new challenges linked to such investments in 2017?

The answers are revealed in the latest survey conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of Vigeo Eiris, the international research and ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) agency, and the FIR (The Forum for Responsible Investment). This is the eighth consecutive year survey has been conducted.
The national survey was conducted online between 2nd and 3rd September 2017 using a sample of 1,082 individuals in France. After applying a first filter, questions related to SRI were only considered by individuals owning at least one financial product, representing 87% of the original sample.

The main results of the survey underline that:
Around half of French people say that they care about the environmental and social impacts of their investment decisions. Social subjects (respect of human rights: 80%, employment: 77%, working conditions: 74%, gender equality: 70.5%) are ranked top of the subjects that the respondents want to see integrated in priority in their savings, followed by environmental subjects (pollution: 70.4%, climate change: 66.7%).
– A large majority of French retail investors (72%) want integration of sustainability issues in their savings funds to be mandatory.
Despite this interest, the concept of SRI remains unknown to the general public: 66% of the respondents said that they had never heard of SRI before this survey. This figure is however reduced to 65% for the holders of life insurance, to 59% for the holders of employee savings funds and to 52% for those investing in the stock market.
– Only 3% of French people state that they have already invested in an SRI fund. Among the respondents that invest in employee savings funds, 8% apply SRI.
Generally speaking, the greater knowledge of SRI the more likely it is that SRI products will be used. 41% of the respondents that expressed an opinion think that SRI products would give them greater trust in those managing their savings.
– While 49% of retail investors, consider their financial advisor to be the most appropriate person to inform them about responsible investment, (followed respectively by family and friends, NGOs and consumer groups, public authorities, the media, social media and companies), SRI product largely not promoted by financial institutions: only 3% of the respondents were offered an SRI solution by their financial institution.

Florence Bihour-Frézal, Southern Europe & Africa Regional Sales Director at Vigeo Eiris states: “This survey illustrates the undisputable growing awareness of social and environmental issues. Yet, financial products supporting climate and social objectives are struggling to be known, reinforcing the need to continue promoting them, especially by banks and public authorities, which the French population consider as actors for this purpose”.

Grégoire Cousté, General Delegate of the French SIF, adds: “Now that labels supported by public authorities are in place, distribution networks need to promote responsible investment products. In response to the French SIF, candidate – now President Emmanuel Macron – had expressed his opinion in favour of the mandatory inclusion of these products in the banking and insurance offers… we are convinced that this measure would make a difference for retail investors”.

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