Friday, June 11, 2010

Canadian Responsible Investment Conference Preview: Attitudes towards socially responsible investment

By Benjamin Commerie, Marketing Research Senior Advisor, Desjardins Group

Did you know that investors aged 40 and under show a real interest in socially responsible investment (SRI) funds? In fact, 44% of SRI fund holders at Desjardins Group are in that age group, while only 29% of them have shown regular interest in our conventional funds.

Furthermore, even with the knowledge that SRI funds and conventional funds generate similar returns, holders of SRI funds are willing, to a certain extent, to sacrifice part of their return in exchange for the social and environmental benefits brought about through the nature of their investments. In fact, given the choice between a conventional fund and an SRI fund with a 1% lower return, 85% of investors would choose the SRI fund. Even if the return was 3% lower, 58% of investors would still choose SRI funds!

These are but a few examples of the results revealed in the "Attitudes of the public and investors towards socially responsible investment" study conducted by the Marketing Research and Business Information Department of Wealth Management and Life and Health Insurance at Desjardins Group in April 2010. These kinds of statistics are rather rare in the socially responsible investment industry in Québec and Canada: even though it’s growing rapidly, this sector is still in its early days.

As a pioneer of SRI in Québec, Desjardins forged the way in 1990 by introducing the Desjardins Environment Fund. We solidified this commitment in January 2009 when we launched the SocieTerra Portfolios. Today, Desjardins has a large enough pool of SRI holders to allow it to draw meaningful results from surveys it conducts.

It will be my great pleasure to present this study in detail on Tuesday, June 15, at the 2010 Canadian Responsible Investment Conference.

Benjamin Commerie, MBA, has been a Senior Advisor in Marketing Research at Desjardins since 2005 and has more than 10 years of experience in this field. Over the past five years, he carried out more than 50 qualitative and quantitative studies to better understand Québec investors, more specifically, investment fund holders. As an aficionado of online tools for marketing research, he has instituted the Desjardins Funds Panel, a tool designed to establish close and constant contact with Desjardins Funds holders.

This is the sixth in a series of articles on the 2010 Canadian Responsible Investment Conference. Subscribe to SRI Monitor for full blogging coverage during the three-day conference.

French version to follow.

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