– Socially responsible investment (SRI) is on everyone’s lips among finance professionals. But individual investors still do not know it. The annual Ifop survey published by the Forum for Responsible Investment (FIR) on the occasion of its responsible finance week, launched this Monday at the Climate Academy, shows fairly stable and low figures concerning the notoriety of the SRI. According to this, only 11% of savers have heard of socially responsible investment, and 7% have invested in SRI funds. However, 60% of French people think that social and environmental issues are important in terms of investments.
The Ifop polling institute explains this gap, once again, by the weak promotion of this approach by traditional banks. Thus, according to the study, only 8% of savers have been offered an SRI offer by their bank adviser. However, a quarter of them are ready to invest in it. The call for banking networks has been launched again since, according to the survey, two-thirds of individual investors trust their banker above all else to choose their media.
Popular interest in SRI is therefore there. But savers remain skeptical. While nearly half of respondents believe that the approach can have an impact, three-quarters see these three letters above all as a marketing argument, and 71% believe that it will degrade profitability. One approach to resolving this distrust could be to respond to the practical expectations of consumers. Savers said they want to make an impact on the climate, pollution, human rights and well-being above all else. Governance issues are somewhat ignored. Unlike professional practices.
Need clarification to erase the green talk
And the emergence of the idea of greenwashing in the debates between experts may well have a negative impact on the development of this offer, while the subject is barely emerging in people’s minds. The attempt to “green” economic actors was deeply questioned by the four participants in a debate on the subject organized on the occasion of the launch of this week of responsible finance.
The dissonance between words and deeds is perceived by consumers, and this affects the credibility of a possible transition via SRI. For example, “carbon neutrality is used as a marketing tool”, according to Valérie Martin, head of the Citizen Mobilization and Media department of the Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME). The official believes that companies are using the concept wrongly and through, the use of which should be limited to the States. This obscures, according to her, the real subject of the gross reduction of carbon emissions, misleads citizens about the efforts of consumption to be made to reduce the impact on climate change, and penalizes institutions that make real efforts.
The NGOs present, for their part, primarily targeted the financial players. They explain that, in particular, banks can use green imagery, while “each of the three major CAC 40 banks have a larger carbon footprint than France”, recalls Alexandre Poidatz, Finance and Climate Advocacy Officer at Oxfam France. The main reason, their financing of new projects in fossil fuels. However, he believes that La Banque Postale and Crédit Mutuel have made efforts in terms of transition plans for the financing of fossil fuels.
Wealth management advisor Pascale Baussant has also been somewhat critical of the asset management industry. “I share the feeling of mistrust towards certain investment products, in particular because of the presence [d’entreprise du secteur des] fossil fuels [dans les portefeuilles]. Savers systematically ask if there is any, and if so, they don’t want any, ”she testifies. The founder of Baussant Conseil indicated that she favored the Greenfin label, which notably excludes fossil fuels, but regretted that few products comply with it.
The author of the book “Acting for the climate as a family” also recalled that in the end, the central subject remains the ignorance of savers. The upcoming requirement for wealth management advisers to apply for sustainability preferences, in line with Mifid 2 regulations, should give savers pause, she recalls. And if the poll of the day proves him right in terms of the desire for more SRI, the power of communication remains in the hands of the large groups. To correct the situation, there would then remain two approaches: normative, via political power, towards which Alexandre Poidatz tends, and individual awareness, particularly at the level of students in prestigious institutions, for Remi Vanel of the collective “Pour un ecological awakening”. The first is counting on the State to set up a new framework forcing sustainable investment, while the second wants students and teachers to learn more about these subjects. The new generations will perhaps soon change the figures of the survey. Hope they get paid well…