Socially responsible investments reach $1 billion in assets under management
LÉVIS, QC, June 17, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Ten years ago, socially responsible investments (SRI) were generally seen as a fad. But the 2008 financial crisis changed the way many people saw the financial industry—and for good reason. It forced many investors to rethink their investment criteria and to better understand of how their assets are invested. This global trend can also be found at Desjardins Funds, where SRI assets under management have reached $1 billion.
Desjardins Group has been a pioneer in Canada in terms of socially responsible investments, launching its first SRI fund in 1990 and four portfolios in 2009. An SRI product is an investment that allows investors to act according to their conscience. "We've received a lot of interest from members and clients, particularly over the last 5 years, and that's translated into an increase in outstanding in SRI funds. The funds jumped from 1% of total Desjardins Funds outstanding in 2008 to 6.3% in 2012. In terms of Desjardins members and clients, 13% are active in this market," says Rosalie Vendette, senior advisor for SRI at Desjardins Group.
The growth in socially responsible investments comes at a time of increased social awareness worldwide. Between 2009 and 2011, SRI assets under management went up 22% in the United States and 17% in Europe. In Canada, they grew 16% between 2010 and 2011.
Change that pays off
There's no doubt that socially responsible investments, which include environmental, social and governance (ESG) selection and management factors, speak to a large number of Desjardins investors.
According to Vendette, in addition to responding to a demand from investors, SRIs also prompt some businesses to improve their practices.
One of the things socially responsible investments provide is an opportunity for shareholders to be engaged; through the right to vote, dialogue and the occasional shareholder proposal. SRIs also represent a means of entering into dialogue with businesses. "We really believe that by promoting ESG issues we can effect change in businesses. Engaged shareholders have a lot of clout and can use that to positively influence companies," says Vendette. Research has shown that SRIs bring about other positive effects. For example, businesses that demonstrate social and environmental responsibility obtain higher returns.
Click here to watch the video of Rosalie Vendette. (in French only)
About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada with assets over $200 billion. Drawing on the strength of its caisse network in Québec and Ontario and its subsidiaries across Canada, it offers a full range of financial products and services to its members and clients. Desjardins specializes in Wealth Management and Life and Health Insurance, in Property and Casualty Insurance, in Personal Services, in Business and Institutional Services. Best Corporate Citizen in Canada for 2012 and among Canada's Top 100 Employers, Desjardins is supported by the skills of its 44,942 employees and the commitment of 5,268 elected officers. Desjardins members and the general public are invited to visit Desjardins Group's education and cooperation program website at www.desjardins.com/co-opme.
SOURCE: Desjardins Group
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