Socially Responsible Investments (ISR or Invetissement Socialement Responssable in French) aim to maximize both financial and social returns. All major banks now offer “Socially Responsible” products, free of companies, business activities or countries which they see as irresponsible. The loophole is that banks define themselves what they consider to be responsible, there is no legal definition or requirements for Socially Responsible Investment products. Selection criteria, methods and results are usually kept secret as well. There is no sure way of verifying your money isn’t used to finance BP’s next drilling platform or FN Herstal‘s new line of products.
The best is probably to have an independent organisation look into it … and that’s exactly what Financité does for investment products available in Belgium.
Financité is an organized social movement which aims to make finance a force for positive change. They publish reports, animate local citizens groups … and rate Socially Responsible Investment products available in Belgium. (They have an English website, but the amount of info is quite small compared to the original version)
They evaluate investment products along two axes:
- Evaluation Ethique: The Ethical Axis evaluates how the product is created, which criteria are used and if blacklisted organisations have been excluded.
- Evaluation Solidaire. The Solidarity Axis evaluates the social impact of the investment.
Each product receives 0 to 4 stars on each of these axis.
Their database makes it quite straightforward to find interesting investment products, you can browse by:
- Product (Produit in French)
- Financial institution (Promoteur in French)
- Product Type (Type de Produit): Savings accounts (Comptes d’épargne) / Investment funds (Fonds de placement) / Ethical and Social investments (Investissement éthique et solidaire) / Insurance products (Produit d’assurance)
- Ethical Axis evaluation
- Solidarity Axis Evaluation