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French asset managers increase SRI capability

FRANCE – French investment firms are rapidly expanding their socially responsible investment management capabilities, reveals a study by SRI information provider Novethic and consultant Amadeis.

A number of investment management firms have recently acquired internal sustainable development expertise by hiring specialised analysts, says the research which looks at major developments in the SRI market in France. BNP Paribas Asset Management, Banque Populaire AM, Isica Epargne and AXA Investment Management among those named as having recently set up dedicated sustainable development units.

Says Novethic chairman Jean-Pierre Sicard: “The very existence of these dedicated units proves the potential of developing engagement-oriented approaches, which favour dialoguing with businesses in order to put pressure on them to adopt more socially and environmentally responsible attitudes and practices; raising the level of management awareness; expressing the investment manager’s expectations with respect to various criteria; and even, in some cases, making recommendations on priorities.”

With regards to exercising voting rights, BNP Paribas AM, Credit Lyonnais AM and Credit Agricole AM have been working with Proxinvest and Institutional Shareholder Services so that they can exercise their voting rights in France and abroad.

The survey reveals that French SRI funds returned –13.2% for the first quarter of this year, with French equities the most adversely affected asset class over the period – returning –14.5%.

Globally SRI fund performance has been in line with conventional fund performance, says the research. SRI euro equity funds outperform conventional euro equity funds by 0.5% over one year, and under-perform European equity funds fund and global equity funds by –1.3% and –1.5% respectively.

Going forward, some French investment managers are beginning to adopt a cross-discipline approach to SRI issues, says the research. They are encouraging an ‘SRI-culture’ throughout the organisation, with some firms introducing training and information programmes for financial analysts.

Novethic and Amadeis research and rate 58 SRI funds available on the French market.


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