Vancouver City Saving Credit Union says it is preparing for a surge of interest in socially responsible investing (SRI) with the launch of a new mutual fund family.

Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union, in partnership with its socially responsible investment subsidiary Inhance Investment Management Inc., is the first full-service financial institution to offer its own socially responsible mutual fund.

Launched in time for RRSP season, the Vancity Circadian Funds will invest in companies that use progressive social, environmental and governance practices in managing their businesses.

According to a recent poll from Decima Research, the environment is now the top issue for Canadians. This is something that Vancity is expecting will translate into a heightened interest in socially responsible investments.

“SRI is at a tipping point,” says Steve Eccles, Vancity’s vp of investment management. “Our members say they’re interested in investing responsibly and we believe that Canadians are moving in this direction, too.”

Kerry Ho, CEO of Inhance Investment Management Inc., says his firm has been managing SRI funds for six years and has seen consistently good performance by taking into account both SRI and financial performance criteria in the investment process and shareholder activism on its funds.

Last year, the Jantzi Social Index, the Canadian index that evaluates socially responsible investments, returned almost 2% more than companies listed on the major Canadian composite indexes.

Vancity Circadian Mutual Funds will be available through Vancity branches and are all RRSP eligible.