The number of defined contribution plans offering a sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) choice could double in the next few years, according to a new study by the US SIF Foundation and Mercer.
The study, “Opportunities for Sustainable and Responsible Investing in US Defined Contribution Plans,” points out that 14 percent of survey respondents already offer one or more SRI options, while an additional 13 percent said they are either discussing adding an SRI option or intend to do so in the next two or three years.
The report also found that four out of five plan sponsor respondents, or 84 percent, predict that demand for SRI options in retirement plans will increase or remain steady over the next five years. Plan sponsors who already offer SRI options say they do so to align their plans with their organizational missions and to meet employee demand.
Nearly three in five respondents said they have minimal or no understanding of SRI investment products and indices. Both small and large plans offer SRI options, but nonprofit, mission-based or public organizations are more likely to offer an SRI option than corporations.
Even though staff and participant demand is cited as one of the primary reasons for adding an SRI fund option, more than 70 percent of plan sponsor respondents who don’t offer an SRI option say they believe that SRI options have never been requested by participants.
A small portion of respondents say they do not offer SRI options but have received requests from participants for them. They say that they have not added the option because demand isn’t high enough yet.
Mercer is a global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services. Mercer works with clients to solve their most complex benefit and human capital issues, designing and helping manage health, retirement and other benefits.