SRI - A Tale Of Two Countries

Wednesday, 10 November 2010
By Susan Drury

Consumers in the UK have higher levels of awareness, trust and confidence in SRI products than then their counterparts in France, a comparison of two recent national online consumer surveys, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of research organisation EIRIS, has revealed.

Many more UK than French consumers considered that banks should have ethical lending policies in place to prevent them from investing in, or lending to companies involved in areas such as arms manufacturing, tobacco or those with poor environmental or human rights records.

The UK survey was launched as EIRIS figures revealed that money invested ethically in the UK has risen 289% over the past decade. There was however clear evidence of the need for change in all investment and lending practices with 66% of respondents considering that “banks and other financial institutions have not learned the lessons needed to prevent a future financial crisis but instead have reverted to ‘business as usual’.

UK consumers recognised the impact that green and ethical issues can have on a company, with 82% considering it important for financial product providers to pay greater attention to ESG risks when deciding which companies to invest in/lend money to, as part of ensuring a good financial return.

“Our survey shows that there’s a huge appetite for a more intelligent approach to finance which places a greater emphasis on society and environment as part of a path towards a more sustainable financial future,” commented Mark Robertson, Head of Communications at EIRIS on the UK survey.

In France however the SRI picture is somewhat different. Although demand is slowly growing, there are a number of barriers relating to low awareness, lack of information and some mistrust to SRI. The French survey found that 59% of respondents could not name or describe in any detail any SRI products and there was low awareness even among those that stated they were interested or likely to consider SRI credentials when choosing a product or service. The survey highlighted a lack of both information and clarity as key barriers to French consumers buying SRI products.

Commenting on the French survey, Marion de Marcillac, Client Relationship Manager at EIRIS Paris said: “Levels of awareness, trust and confidence in SRI products are low. The industry must respond with greater transparency and provide clearer information on how saving and investing can make a positive difference. Our survey suggests that demand for ethical financial products and services is set to continue as more consumers question how and where their money is invested.”

For more information on the surveys, visit EIRIS website.

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