Where are your Ki­wiSaver funds in­vested?

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring - PHILIPPA STEVEN­SON

Mil­lions of us are un­wit­tingly in­vest­ing in to­bacco com­pa­nies, clus­ter bombs, mines and nu­clear weapons.

We don’t in­tend to put our money into ‘‘sin stocks’’. But that’s what our Ki­wiSaver funds in­vest in. Bank sav­ings can end up in ar­ma­ments and the like, too.

In fact, 95 per cent of New Zealan­ders in a sur­vey said they wanted Ki­wiSaver funds to con­sider eth­i­cal fac­tors like the en­vi­ron­ment - cli­mate change, loss of nat­u­ral habi­tat, and pol­lu­tion – and so­cial is­sues like child labour and hu­man rights. But many fund man­agers stub­bornly be­lieve that peo­ple are happy to dis­card their val­ues when it comes to their money.

That’s what spe­cial­ist Waikato eth­i­cal in­vest­ment ad­viser Janet Natta rou­tinely finds. De­spite the com­pre­hen­sive re­search done by the Re­spon­si­ble In­vest­ment As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­trala­sia (RIAA), which shows Ki­wis rate eth­i­cal or so­cially re­spon­si­ble in­vest­ment highly.

Last year’s RIAA sur­vey of more than a thou­sand Kiwi in­vestors showed more than half - 55 per cent - would be more likely to in­vest in a Ki­wiSaver fund that was cer­ti­fied by an in­de­pen­dent body as a ‘Re­spon­si­ble or Eth­i­cal In­vestor’.

And a third of re­spon­dents said that when con­sid­er­ing where to in­vest re­tire­ment sav­ings their de­ci­sions were weighted 50/50 be­tween fi­nan­cial fac­tors and per­sonal val­ues.

No won­der Ki­wis were hor­ri­fied last year when me­dia in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed that more than two mil­lion of us were un­wit­ting in­vestors in big to­bacco com­pa­nies and mak­ers of banned weapons, in­clud­ing clus­ter bombs, through their Ki­wiSaver providers.

De­spite a pub­lic out­cry lit­tle has changed, Natta told a shocked au­di­ence at a Green Party Waikato branch dis­cus­sion on eth­i­cal in­vest­ing re­cently.

Af­ter her talk, many peo­ple said they would be phon­ing their Ki­wiSaver providers, banks and in­vest­ment ad­vis­ers to find what their money was sup­port­ing. To make sure in­vestors have the sort of in­vest­ment op­tions that ac­cord with their per­sonal val­ues, in gov­ern­ment, the Green Party would es­tab­lish a pub­lic, eth­i­cal de­fault Ki­wiSaver fund.

As well, the Greens would es­tab­lish a $100 mil­lion Green In­fra­struc­ture Fund, like those in Europe, Aus­tralia and six US states, to bring gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tor fi­nance to­gether to build projects to trans­form the econ­omy and cre­ate jobs in clean in­dus­tries like so­lar and wind en­ergy, waste re­duc­tion and re­cy­cling, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, bio­fuel, and sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture.

The Greens’ goal is for New Zealand to be car­bon neu­tral by 2050. And it’s not alone. The $35 bil­lion NZ Su­per­an­nu­a­tion Fund has spent the last five years re­search­ing how best to as­sess cli­mate change risk and in­cor­po­rate that into its in­vest­ment de­ci­sions.

In­vestors, whether in­di­vid­ual, cor­po­rate or gov­ern­ment, know where they put their money can make a dif­fer­ence – and they want to make the eth­i­cal choice.

-Philippa Steven­son is Green Party’s Waikato can­di­date.

SUP­PLIED

Waikato eth­i­cal in­vest­ment ad­viser Janet Natta and Green Party can­di­date for the Waikato elec­torate, Philippa Steven­son.

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