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Do Financial Products drive “responsible consumers” towards action?

During CSR Week, BNP Paribas asked TNS Sofres to analyse the general public's expectations relating to responsible finance in three of its domestic markets (2100 persons surveyed in France, Belgium and Italy from 23 August to 3 September 2010).

The study revealed several major trends:

A mature, committed viewpoint about sustainable development - a "fertile environment" across the three European countries
75% of those interviewed are heavily involved in sustainable development issues, with 56% playing an active advisory role with friends and acquaintances.
They also have a pragmatic vision “win/win” of the commitment of businesses to sustainable development: even if they see this commitment as serving the commercial interests and image of businesses (84%), they recognise its positive impact (85%).

The current crisis, which is leading to substantial changes, is prompting a desire to act “responsibly”
The crisis is seen by the public as an opportunity to call their values and the way they live into question (72%), and an incentive to “change things so that we don't leave our children a world that is worse than it is today,” particularly for French (72%) and Belgian (75%) citizens.

Act, yes, but only if we are effective
Among the drivers identified, the people surveyed ranked individual actions first. Such actions have concrete and immediate results, and include acting responsibly on a daily basis (84%), purchasing products that have beem designed “responsibly” (76%) or assisting those in need (69%).
Investing a portion of their savings in the stocks of businesses that demonstrate exemplary behaviour is seen as an effective act by individual shareholders,* who rank it third in importance, whilst the overall population ranks it seventh among the 10 action drivers proposed.

Act through financial products—but in what areas and under what conditions?
The study reveals that individuals rank security as the most important criterion in selecting an investment (92%), followed closely by investments in companies that are not guilty of negative behaviour (85%), either for social issues (respect for human rights, equal opportunity for men/women, jobs, etc.) or for environmental issues.
The search for profitability ranks much lower, only 8th among the criteria cited.

Accessibility of responsible financial products
Even though the banks appear to be the leading source of information about responsible products, familiarity with responsible investments must still be developed, particularly in France, where only 33% of those questioned believe that it is easy to obtain information on this issue compared with 50% for the Italians and 55% for the Belgians.

*all respondents own shares of publicly traded companies outside employee savings programmes

BNP Paribas' CSR policy
BNP Paribas is a socially responsible business that finances the real economy while helping to protect the environment and to combat social exclusion and discrimination.
BNP Paribas' commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility is embodied in its internal operations, (through its human resources policy or by limiting its direct impact), customer relationships, and contribution to society.
The Group's commitment has been confirmed by joining several international agreements like the Global Compact, the Equator Principles, the Carbon Disclosure Project or the Climate Principles.
The group's CSR performance is also recognised by the inclusion of the BNP Paribas share in the leading Corporate Social Responsibility indices.

About BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas ( is one of the six strongest banks in the world* and the largest bank in the eurozone by deposits. With a presence in more than 80 countries and more than 200,000 employees, including 160,000 in Europe, BNP Paribas is a leading European provider of financial services on a worldwide scale. It ranks highly in its three core activities: Retail Banking, Investment Solutions and Corporate & Investment Banking. In Retail Banking, the Group has four domestic markets: Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg. BNP Paribas is rolling out its integrated model across the Europe-Mediterranean zone and boasts a large network in the United States. BNP Paribas Personal Finance is the leader in consumer lending in Europe. In its Corporate & Investment Banking and Investment Solutions activities, BNP Paribas also enjoys top positions in Europe and solid and fast-growing businesses in Asia.
* Rated AA by Standard & Poor's i.e. 3rd rating level on a scale of 22.