Responsible investment: what will change for savers this summer

From August 2, when you step outside the door of your banker’s office or any other intermediary offering investment advice or a portfolio management service, expect to be grilled. These professionals are already required to interview their clients to establish their risk profile. The latter is based on several characteristics such as the amount of assets, knowledge of financial products, investment horizon, risk appetite… “Before each subscription, the our advisors carry out a questionnaire to customers, explains Laetitia Bernier, director of sales and marketing of the U. Perial, manager of real estate funds, is a stage of discovery of the savior with the aim of knowing their wishes for projects investment to offer suitable solutions. From this summer, distributors of savings products (life insurance, equity savings plan, securities account, funds, etc.) will also ask about your preferences regarding the sustainable finance.

This new obligation is part of a vast regulatory project that is being imposed on the financial sector. “This new regulation is part of the European agenda aimed at redirecting savings towards responsible products”, notes Laetitia Bernier. And so it directs the capital towards green activities, which contribute to the climate neutrality decided by Europe. A priori, savers should be in favor of investment products that integrate extra-financial, environmental, social and good governance (ESG) criteria. According to the latest edition of the responsible investment barometer of CPR AM, 64% of the surveyed savers place the extra-financial impact of their investments at least at the same level as the financial performance.

Three questions asked

But the tests go much further than just asking if you want to promote responsible products. Distributors should survey on three well-defined points, “from the most accurate to the least accurate”, underlines Thibaut Mihelich, ESG director of Lazard Frères Gestion, a management company. First of all, they have to ask what minimum part of your investments you want to align with the European taxonomy. This is a very precise classification of green activities, those that contribute to the mitigation and adaptation of climate change, the control of pollution, the transition to the circular economy, the protection of biodiversity … This approach is very strict because according to estimates of the European Commission. , these activities represent only 1% to 2% of the turnover of listed companies in the present. In practice, asking to be aligned with the taxonomy for all their investments, would lead to the concentration of their assets on a very limited number of companies and sectors and therefore to take a lot of risks.

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The second question is broader and concerns the proportion of sustainable investments desired. The definition this time is much less precise and broader since it includes not only the environmental dimension but also the social one (jobs, equality between men and women, respect for employees, etc.). Each management company will have to indicate and justify the part of its sustainable investments in its products, according to a methodology that has yet to be determined. The risk? It can be seen that very different approaches arise, more or less serious, from one promoter to another. “Over time, we will witness a homogenization of the definition of a sustainable investment”, assures Thibaut Mihelich.

Finally, advisors ask their clients about their desire not to invest in companies whose activities have a negative impact on the environment. In fact, at the end of the year, companies must report a certain number of indicators to measure the consequences of their activity on global warming, the loss of biodiversity… They must provide information on 14 indicators. “The fund managers have to show that they favor the companies that are the best in these points”, points out Thibaut Mihelich. At this stage, it will be impossible to go into details, but in the future, each rescuer could put forward the most important criteria in his eyes.

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Correct implementation of this relatively complex new regulation requires a great deal of education with savers. “One of the challenges will therefore be to popularize as much as possible all the technical terms and jargon with a simple vocabulary to be understood by everyone”, comments Laetitia Bernier. At the same time, management companies are working to create new products to better meet the expectations that will be revealed by this new questionnaire. “We expect an increase in customer needs,” Thibaut Mihelich underlines. The counselors still have a few weeks to collect the subject.


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