Study reveals responsible investing not firms' priority

NEW YORK: Financial companies in the US don't much care about socially responsible investing, according to Echo Research's new corporate social responsibility (CSR) study. The study - called "CSR and the Financial Community: Friends or Foes?" - found that while US multinational companies lead other markets in philanthropy, they have a devil-may-care attitude toward the importance of CSR to socially responsible investing.

NEW YORK: Financial companies in the US don't much care about socially responsible investing, according to Echo Research's new corporate social responsibility (CSR) study. The study - called "CSR and the Financial Community: Friends or Foes?" - found that while US multinational companies lead other markets in philanthropy, they have a devil-may-care attitude toward the importance of CSR to socially responsible investing.

According to the study, 88% of US financial institutions don't take a company's contributions to local, national, and international communities into account in their analyses of corporate performance and value - and, ultimately, their investment choices. Only a third feel that good CSR can result in better risk management. More than half (56%) said they want a better measure of CSR, but 89% expect shareholder pressure to drive socially responsible investing in the future.

On the other hand, the report found a growing focus on CSR on the part of non-US companies' investment decisions. For example, 68% of European companies think CSR contributes to better risk management and only 57% rely on shareholder pressure to drive socially responsible investing.

"It seems that for US financial companies, the percentage that consider CSR in their investment portfolio is quite low," said Marianne Eisenmann, managing director of Echo Research, North America. "It's not that they don't take notice of it, but it's not as important in the US as it is in other markets."

Echo, which conducts reputation audits and analyses, interviewed 240 business and financial opinion leaders from the US, France, the UK, Germany, Australia, and South Africa.

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