Seven in 10 French investors demand sustainability-aware investments
A new survey has found that a large majority of French retail investors – 72 per cent – want their funds to have mandatory integration of sustainability issues.
According to an Ipsos Mori survey conducted on behalf of Vigeo Eiris, an international environmental, social and governance (ESG) data provider, and the Forum for Responsible Investment (FIR), around half of French people say they care about the environmental and social impacts of their investment decisions.
The survey, which collected the respondents of 1,082 investors in France via an online survey, found that social subjects ranked highest in savers’ assessments of investment opportunities.
Of these, investee companies’ respect of human rights ranked top with 80 per cent of respondents saying it was an important consideration. This was followed by working conditions (74 per cent) and gender equality (71 per cent) as themes to be considered a priority, with environmental subjects (pollution – 70.4 per cent, and climate change – 67 per cent) also of interest.
A large majority of the survey’s respondents, some 72 per cent, said that they would want integration of sustainability issues in their savings funds to be mandatory.
Despite this, however, the concept of SRI – socially responsible investment – remains unknown to the French public, with 66 per cent of respondents saying they had never heard of the investment discipline. Only 3 per cent of French investors say they have invested in an SRI-only fund, while only 8 per cent say they invest in an employee savings fund that is SRI-oriented.
Most tellingly of all, only 3 per cent of respondents were offered an SRI solution by their financial institution of choice, implying that such products are largely not promoted by traditional investment providers.
Grégoire Cousté, general delegate of the French SIF, said: “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.”
The lack of education among French investors is still cause for concern, however, said Florence Bihour-Frézal, regional sales director at Vigeo Eiris, with financial products which support climate or social objectives “struggling to be known” in the domestic market.
She conceded that the survey “illustrates the undisputable growing awareness of social and environmental issues”, however, as is being seen around the world.
Indeed, the statistics collected in the Vigeo Eris and FIR survey ring true across the globe.
One recent Bank of America press release states that three-quarters of investors want to work with an advisor who will offer strategies that “result in a positive impact” as well as good returns, while Morgan Stanley analysis found that 86 per cent of millennials want to make a connection between financial and social outcomes.
Natixis Global Asset Management's 2017 Individual Investor Survey also found that three in four Singapore investors prioritise investment in companies with “a positive social impact”, while 84 per cent say they consider ESG factors when making investments.