42 per cent of French want SRI info on savings – Friends of the Earth slams “illegitimate” SRI funds

Survey reveals interest, but lack of knowledge of SRI products.

A survey of French attitudes to the sale of general retail savings funds has found that 42% of respondents said they would like to know the sustainability characteristics of a product before choosing whether or not to invest. The survey, commissioned by Eiris, the research group, and carried out by Ipsos, was unveiled on October 5 at the launch in the French National Assembly of the country’s SRI week. It asked a weighted sample of 1020 individuals between the ages of 16 and 64 about their knowledge of SRI issues regarding the sale of funds. Of the rest of the total respondents, 18% were not interested in sustainability factors, 22% were indifferent and 19% didn’t know.
The survey found that of the 42% interested in sustainability aspects, 57% said they would take SRI criteria into account for their next saving or investment decision.
However, just 4% of the total respondents could actually name an SRI fund. And 37% said they wouldn’t buy an SRI product because they didn’t believe financial institutions’ descriptions of their products. Last week, Friends of the Earth attacked the majority of France’s SRI funds as being “illegitimate”. The French arm of the NGO, Les Amis de la Terre, said in a report analyzing 89 SRI funds that 71 of them invested in companies itconsidered as “controversial” for “disastrous” social and environmental practices. They included Total, BP, Areva, France Télécom, BNP Paribas, and AXA. Robin Edme, president of FIR said the report was “unrealistic” but that it contributed to the debate on sustainability issues. Edme said he was also seeking support from SRI actors to approach the European Commission to hold a Europe-wide SRI week. On a positive note, 83% of respondents to the Eiris survey said they disagreed with the proposition that SRI products were likely to underperform mainstream funds. Asked what they thought the investment priorities of SRI funds should be, 60% said human rights, 60% protection of the environment and 54% climate change. About half as many said ethical screens on alcohol, tobacco, or gambling should be a focus. France’s SRI week, backed by the country’s Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and the Sea, is organized by the French Responsible Investment Forum (FIR) in partnership with the French Fund Management Association (AFG), The French Federation of Insurers, Novethic, ORSE, Paris EUROPLACE and the French Society of Financial Analysts.
More than 60 events have been organized.
Link to French SRI week site