Survey reveals most French investors never heard of SRI

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It seems a paradoxical finding that French investors show willingness to integrate environmental and social issues into their investment decisions but that the majority of them have never heard of social responsible investment.

That is the result of an annual study conducted for the seventh consecutive year by French survey institute Ipsos for the ESG research agency Vigeo Eiris and the Forum for Responsible Investment (FIR).

Some 1101 French individuals have been surveyed at the end of August 2016 and questions about SRI have only been asked to those being invested in at least one financial product (86% of the people interviewed).

The survey shows that 51% of the French investors interviewed are favourable to the integration of environmental and social issues in investment decisions.

Over 80% of the 1101 individuals surveyed assess that climate change and energy transition issues should be integrated in the investment decisions of financial companies and 49% of them said they would take these concerns into account in their own investment decisions.

However, the study finds out 66% of the people surveyed say they have never heard of SRI before Ipsos interviewed them (against 67% in 2015).

The figure drops to 58% for insurance life holders, 53% for using salary savings and 48% for stock market investors.

Also the survey highlights the SRI range of funds are not that much promoted in France as only 4% of the individuals interviewed have been proposed SRI products by their bank, insurer or asset manager against 3% last year.

Almost one third of the French investors surveyed say that an SRI label, backed by local authorities, would push them to choose an SRI fund.

Florence Bihour-Frézal, commercial director Southern Europe and Africa at Vigeo Eiris regretted a lack of promotion of the SRI offering to French retail investors.

Grégoire Cousté, general delegate of FIR, believes the launch of SRI and TEEC labels by French authorities will help to address this issue.