The democratization of responsible investment continues, but savers want more proof…, News/Analysis Savings

Accelerated by the health crisis, knowledge of responsible investment (RI) among French savers has not experienced any noticeable change between 2020 and 2021, shows the 3rd edition of the annual Responsible Investment Barometer by CPR AM and Insight AM.

But its democratization has continued, judging both by the importance given to it by investors in their arbitrations and by its strong growth in the supply of advisers and bankers.

The study, carried out in December 2021 by the two management companies with a panel of individual investors (with at least €10,000 in savings) and professional advisers in wealth management or private banking, also notes that their knowledge of RI is stable, and even notes a slight drop in the share of these products in their portfolios (28% own them compared to 31% last year).

Extra-financial criteria are essential for savers

Despite this slight drop, investors’ outlook on RI is moving in the right direction: this year, nearly half (48%) say they attach as much importance to RI as to financial criteria in their choices. investment, with a minority (16%) even giving it priority: in total, 64% of the panel consider that extra-financial performance is equivalent to or more important than financial performance.

As for savers’ favorite themes, those of the environment (57% compared to 54% in 2020) and the fight against global warming (48% compared to 50% in 2020) remain the two priority subjects, but other are gaining ground, such as education (48%) and local consumption and production (46%), while employment, which had jumped to 3rd place in this ranking in 2020, fell to 5th, down by 7 points over one year (43%).

Responsible investment, a “standard” in the offer of financial advisers

The main lesson of this new survey undoubtedly remains the strong growth of responsible investment products among the offer of professionals, which now seem completely integrated into the catalog of their investment vehicles, and no longer considered as “a simple effect fashion”.

61% of advisors now offer responsible products to all their clients, compared to only 28% in 2019 to do so. In addition, 42% say they are convinced by the quality of responsible investments, a figure up 12 points compared to last year!

An offer doubled in 24 months

For these professionals, marketing responsible products has become easier since the crisis. On the one hand, the pandemic has given a boost to the general public’s awareness of the challenges of the energy transition. On the other hand, the supply of funds offered by asset management companies has jumped at a spectacular pace, driven by the influx of liquidity on the financial markets and the opportunities offered by major recovery plans.

In France, the number of sustainable funds available on the market has more than doubled in the space of two years. Novethic had 1,111 in September 2021, compared to only 531 in June 2019. As for SRI labeling, the offer has also expanded in recent months, from 649 SRI funds in June 2021 to 895 in January.

However, the margin for progress in responsible investment with the general public still remains strong. The majority of French savers do not have one, and the theme of IR remains far from being mastered.

The impact, an unknown concept, but an essential subject

This is evidenced by the notion of “impact” investing*, which 56% of survey respondents have never heard of, and which should be compared with the strong demand from savers for measurement indicators. environmental impact of their investments and ” concrete and precise information on the responsible dimension of funds presenting themselves as such “, underlines the Barometer.

The opinion of savers matches that of advisors, 43% of whom cite the lack of evidence of the real impact of RI products as the main obstacle to their marketing.

“The 2021 Barometer shows that RI is essential in the selection of products in the same way as performance. It is through impact investing, acclaimed by savers and advisers, that it should succeed in truly becoming widespread”, emphasizes Arnaud Faller, Deputy CEO of CPR AM, in charge of investments.

A subject on which the French government is also working as part of its work to reform the SRI label, the results of which are expected later this year.

Too generalist, not focused enough on “impact” finance which values ​​companies providing concrete solutions to the challenges of sustainable development, the label must ” radically “evolve, had considered the General Inspectorate of Finance in a report submitted last year on the label, failing to expose itself” to an inevitable loss of credibility and relevance [en faisant] to the saver a confused promise “.

*Investment “made with the intention of generating a positive return, having a measurable social and environmental impact, while ensuring a financial return”. Definition of the Global Impact Investing Network.

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