For over 30 years we have been true to our Ethical Charter. Our employees, our clients and our shareholders choose us because:
*Assured by KPMG
Australian Ethical has been the quiet achiever in its field for over 30 years. Not anymore. Never has it been so important for the power of money to be a force for good. Now is the time for our message to be loud and clear. Our track record and credentials prove we are authentic, professional leaders in our industry and now in 2017, our continued growth trajectory means we have become substantial.
“Australian Ethical Super was the fastest growing super fund in Australia in 2016, by both membership and assets under management.”*
To signal this evolution to the market we have evolved our brand. Our name is our marque, and is now intrinsically linked to our logo. The new logo, rich brand colours and impactful imagery you see featured throughout this report helps us celebrate the beauty and potential of the planet we are fighting hard to preserve.
Extraordinary events in the past year, including the outcome of the ‘Brexit’ vote, the new administration in the US and the announcement of its intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement, show an unhealthy trend at a macro level towards nationalism and away from global accords designed for the greater good. Rather than these world events being an impediment to the growth of our business, we have seen the continued rise of the conscious consumer. People frustrated and disillusioned with the global political environment are choosing to take more direct action with their consumption and investment choices. This can only be good for the planet.
This trend is reflected in the continued growth of the core responsible investment segment in Australia (26% in calendar year 2016)# and of our own business. A recent report by KPMG identified Australian Ethical Super as the fastest growing super fund in Australia in 2016, by both membership and assets under management* .
“People frustrated and disillusioned with the global political environment are choosing to take more direct action with their consumption and investment choices. This can only be good for the planet.”
# Responsible Investment Benchmark Report 2017, Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA)
* Super Insights Report 2017, KPMG. Published 6 June 2017
Super Fund in Australia in 2016 by Assets Under Management+
Investment in Nuclear
Super Fund in Australia in 2016 by Number of Members
Status by B Corp
Increase since FY16
+KPMG Super Insights Report 2017. Published 6 June 2017. **Emissions of Australian Ethical share investments compared to benchmark of S&P ASX 200 Index (for Australian shareholdings) and MSCI World ex Australia Index (for international shareholdings). Calculated as at 31 December 2016. @A report by PAX and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) noted Australian Ethical as the only Australian firm to make it on the ‘Hall of Fame’ list. (Do not invest in any nuclear associated companies and applied no revenue threshold for companies for manufacture of weapons, uranium mining, and nuclear generation.) #+55 (Pollinate Research February 2017. >B Corp certification by B Lab: AEI recognised as one of the 2016 Best for the World companies ^Assured by KPMG
Our Ethical Charter encourages us to grapple with complex problems and far-reaching consequences and to examine issues on their merits from many angles. Our Charter is the compass we use to navigate through the ethical complexities of our investment and business decisions.
Our assessment of a possible investment against the Charter is neither one-dimensional nor static. If on balance, we believe a business is beneficial for the long-term benefit of the planet, people or animals, then we will make the investment and apply our influence to help achieve that goal. On the other hand, if a business is initially assessed as aligned with our Charter, but over time makes a change that moves them out of alignment, we will attempt to influence them back to the right path, or divest.
Once an investment has cleared the Charter, our investment team employs their more than 100-years of aggregate investment know-how to make the best investment decisions for our clients.
Our long-term investment track record, high ethical conviction and fully featured products covering all asset classes are unique in the market.
Follow the diagram to see how we apply our Ethical Charter to determine companies that help create a better world. All the investments in our portfolio have been subject to this process. (Assured by KPMG)
Investment ideas can come from lots of sources such as our investment analysts scouring the markets for good investment opportunities, Portfolio Managers filtering potential investments that match the portfolio criteria or from our ethics research analysts screening the global equity market for stocks that meet our ethical criteria.
Incorporating ethics into our investment process helps us to identify risk and opportunities earlier than most other funds.
Research from decision frameworks and data & analysis help answer the ethical charter questions:
The Investment Analyst or Portfolio Manager makes the case for portfolio inclusion taking into account such things as expected risk and return and the impact on the overall portfolio.
Our Chief Investment Officer has ultimate responsibility on whether an investment is approved and assigns a limit which is the maximum amount the relevant portfolio can invest.
We continually monitor all our portfolios to ensure that they will deliver on what we expect from them. Should an individual investment not meet our stringent ethical and investment criteria we will divest.
We have managed our clients’ money with the utmost care and responsibility for over 30 years. We offer a suite of ethical investment options designed to cater to every risk profile. All our investments are governed by the same rigorous ethical investment process.
We have shown that you do not need to compromise on performance if you choose to invest ethically. In fact, we believe that incorporating ethics into our investment process actually helps us identify investment risks and opportunities earlier than most other funds.
For example, we have been assessing companies’ exposure to climate change risk for decades, not years. And we have been investigating which companies will thrive in a world where an ageing demographic is a significantly dominant force.
We construct our portfolios to be well diversified, and actively look for ‘future-building’ investments that will drive a sustainable economy and society and returns for our investors.
Our Ethical Charter steers us into parts of the economy that are more positive and sustainable, and away from ones which are less so. This is clearly visible in in the chart below which shows the allocation of our share investments (in green) to different industry sectors compared with the share market as a whole (grey).
As at 31 December 2016. The industry sectors are classified according to the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) used broadly in the global investment community. * The overall sharemarket is a blend of the S&P ASX 200 Index (for Australian share holdings) and the MSCI World ex Australia Index (for international share holdings). **’Consumer Discretionary (includes clothing, cars, consumer electronics, retailers and media)’.
The transition to a lower-carbon economy has begun, and we’re driving change in three ways: our investment choices; our advocacy on climate action and policy; and reducing and offsetting our own operational emissions. We recognise that climate change presents a specific series of risks for investors, super fund members and shareholders. The economy’s reliance on energy from fossil fuels can’t continue. Reductions in carbon emissions require a fundamental change in the energy mix that underpins business and investment activity and we all have a responsibility to act.
Climate change tops the list of current threats facing people, animals and the environment. It is already causing harm through more extreme weather, sea level rise and species extinction. Most tragically, governments, business and individuals have the power to reduce warming, but many are not exercising that power.
Global warming affects our investments in many ways.
Physical impacts like sea level rise and extreme weather are already changing where and how buildings and infrastructure can be safely built. Changes in temperature and rainfall affect the productivity and viability of different types of agriculture.
Government climate policy can radically alter the prospects of different technologies. A price on carbon and higher clean air standards will favour renewables over fossil fuels. Tougher emissions restrictions on new vehicles will help hybrid and electric over conventional vehicles.
Beyond technology-specific impacts, there are flow-on effects across the economy from potential broader changes like the growing availability of cheap and portable clean energy, if we commit to strong climate action. But if we are slow to act, growing inequality and the displacement of people from areas hardest hit by climate change will cause widespread social and economic disruption.
Climate change is ever-present in the way we apply our Ethical Charter, including in the work of our Ethical Advisory Group (EAG) and Board in overseeing the way our investment process takes account of impacts on the planet, people and animals. The EAG reports quarterly to the Board for input from directors.
Our Annual and Sustainability Report shows how climate change effects our investing in many ways, including exclusion of fossil fuel companies, investment in companies supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency, management of climate risk by the companies we invest in, and our advocacy for climate action by companies and governments.
We use Trucost to assess the carbon footprint of our share investments. In 2016 our share investments were assessed as having a third (34%) of the carbon footprint of the Benchmark*
*Benchmark is a blended benchmark of S&P ASX 200 Index (for Australian share holdings) and MSCI World ex Australia Index (for international share holdings). Data has been provided by Trucost, an independent company that provides analysis of carbon and other environmental impacts of companies and portfolios. The footprint includes direct company emissions and some indirect emissions. See trucost.com/glossary-of-terms/ for more information.
The European 2° Investing Initiative (‘2ii’) analysed our investment in power generation to assess whether it is aligned with the massive shift to renewables that is needed to limit warming to 2°Celsius (2°C). The following graph shows how our investment in renewables is streets ahead of what is required.
Source: 2ii, based on global data and IEA.
In FY17 we had 41.5 tonnes of scope 1 & 2 emissions (direct emissions from our operations and the generation of electricity used in those operations). Our scope 3 emissions from travel was 36.5 tonnes. We offset 100% of all these emissions. This year we purchased premium offsets from the Kariba REDD+ project which teaches farmers to sustainably increase their productivity, which in turn prevents further land clearing.
On a daily level in our own company, all of our kitchen rubbish is segmented into green waste, recyclables and paper products. Even our coffee pods are collected by the relevant provider for recycling. We also have employee initiatives where old clothes are collected for
organisations like Dressed for Success, which helps vulnerable women get back into the workforce.
When renovating our office space we paid particular attention to how the previous furniture and materials could be reused. We took solid timber legs from our old boardroom tables and made them into new tables with a durable top. We chose to keep the existing light fittings and ceiling tiles from the old office because there were no re-use options available for these items. Lastly, furniture we could not find any room for, we donated to the not for profit organisation, Fighting Chance.
Emissions from direct operations and generation of electricity used in those operations
Emissions from travel
We make a difference not only by our choices about where we will and won’t invest, but also by using our shareholder rights and voice to influence positive change. This includes:
We engage with companies we both do and don’t invest in, and with people who are and aren’t our clients. Our overriding objective is to advance the interests of people, animals and the environment in accordance with our Ethical Charter.
This table gives an overview of some of our engagements during the year, including positive outcomes achieved. We can’t claim credit for all this positive change. Many others are working hard on the same issues, including inside the organisations that we try to influence. What is clear is that investors have a powerful role to play in shaping a better future.
|Companies / Industry Sectors|
|Influence target||Broad themes||Issues and Actions||Collaborators||Outcome|
|Banks||(1) Climate||Responsible banks need to align their lending to support the economic transition needed to limit warming to 2 degrees. We pressed for more information about climate action from the big 4 Australian banks and two regional banks. Further information||Boston Common||Partial responses and commitments from banks; serious gaps remain.|
|In meetings and at its last AGM, we asked Westpac to rule out support for the proposed Adani Carmichael mine to publicly demonstrate the integrity of the bank’s climate commitments. We also asked the bank to stop use of its credit cards for online gambling to help limit impulsive and irresponsible gambling. Further information||Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA)||Westpac’s 2020 climate action plan rules out lending to the Carmichael mine. Credit card gambling discussions continue.|
|Insurance Companies||(1) Climate||In meetings and correspondence with insurers QBE, IAG, Suncorp and Medibank, we asked them to help limit global warming through (1) responsible investment e.g. excluding fossil fuels and supporting renewables; (2) responsible insurance e.g. excluding insurance of new fossil fuel projects and offering customer incentives for lower emissions vehicles and houses; (3) a public voice for strong government climate action.||Boston Common||Partial responses and commitments from banks; serious gaps remain.|
|Santos||(1) Climate||We supported shareholder resolutions calling on Santos to better explain how its strategy addresses climate change risk, and to demonstrate alignment of business strategy with the Paris Climate Change Agreement.||Market Forces||Santos has committed to better reporting. We will see.|
|Salmon farming||(3) Sustainable food||Sustainable salmon farming needs sustainable sources of salmon feed. Companies also need to mitigate the harm caused by farming to salmon, other ocean life, and other uses of farming sites. We discussed the sustainability challenges facing the sector with NGOs, researchers and salmon farming companies Tassal and New Zealand King Salmon. Further information||Our sustainability concerns were not addressed and we sold our two salmon farming investments.|
|Food sector||(1) Climate
(3) Sustainable food
|We joined – and publicly promoted in print and on ABC radio – a global investor initiative to encourage food companies and supermarkets to include more plant based protein in their foods, and reduce reliance on animal protein (which has more harmful environmental, social and animal impacts than plants). We asked US supermarket Whole Foods to promote plant based protein meat alternatives. We continued to support an international campaign targeting over-use of antibiotics in agriculture, which facilitates overcrowding of farm animals; harms animals when used to promote growth rates; and encourages antibiotic-resistant bacteria harmful to human health. We discussed these issues with Australian poultry producer Inghams (who we do not invest in).||Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR)||Australian poultry companies stated commitments to eliminate (over time) the use of some antibiotics.|
|Renewables and human rights||(1) Climate
(4) Human rights
|Investors need to ensure that the rights of indigenous and other local communities are respected when new wind, hydro and solar projects are developed. We contributed to development of an investor guide on this issue. We also asked Tesla and Johnson Controls about the risk that child labour is used to extract the cobalt used in their batteries. As well as addressing this issue directly, we expect them to minimise cobalt use through better design and recycling. Further information||Business & Human Rights Resource Centre Sonen Capital||In-progress.|
|Investors||(1) Climate||We contributed to development of a guide to climate disclosure for investors, Transparency in Transition. We encouraged investor development of better reporting through our own climate disclosure. We won a French Government award for best reporting on how our investments are aligned with limiting warming to below 2 degrees. Further information||Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC)||Climate analysis, action and reporting by investors is improving, but much more is needed.|
|We supported a research project to understand barriers to diversity in investment management, and to identify solutions. We contributed to the investor working group of the Australian 30% club working to achieve 30% of ASX 200 seats held by women by end-2018. Further information||Mercer||25.4% of ASX 200 directors are women (May 2017, up from 23.8% August 2016).|
|Task Force on Climage Financial Disclosure (TCFD)||(1) Climate||We proposed additional climate disclosure requirements to the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, including how companies are innovating and disrupting to support the 2 degree transition, and how they take account of future climate scenarios. Further information||TCFD released final recommendations in June 2017, with additional scenario analysis guidance.|
|Governments / Public Policy|
|Influence target||Broad themes||Issues and Actions||Collaborators||Outcome|
|Australian government||(1) Climate||Australian Ethical members signed a petition to the Prime Minister for Australia to ratify the Paris Agreement and introduce stronger targets tomeet our responsibilities under the agreement. We appeared before the Senate Committee Inquiry into Carbon Risk Disclosure to call for expanded requirements to measure and disclose emissions and to report their alignment with Australia’s responsibilities under the Paris Agreement. Our submission to the Climate Change Policy Review called for a zero emissions goal, a carbon price, removal of fossil fuel subsidies, support for clean technology and an end to deforestation of native forests. Further information||As well as making our own policy submissions to government, we also contribute to development of submissions by the Investor Group on Climate Change, Responsible Investment Association of Australasia, Financial Services Council and others.||The Finkel Review is a start, it now needs to be implemented by governments in line with Australia’s climate responsibilities under the Paris Agreement.|
|Australian government and business||(4) Human rights||Our submission to the Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia called for introduction of legislation to encourage greater diligence by companies to ensure forced labour does not exist in their supply chains. We also appeared before the public hearing conducted by the parliamentary committee. Further information||The inquiry is expected to report later in the year.|
|Australian government||(8) Impact investing||Our response to the Australian government Social Impact Investing Discussion paper called for government to facilitate social impact investment which helps address social and environmental needs which are currently not being met by traditional business models and government programs. Further information||The government has not yet announced its social impact investment policy approach.|
|G7 & G20 countries||(1) Climate||We supported an investor letter to the governments of all G7 and G20 countries to accelerate plans, targets and policies to implement the Paris Agreement and limit warming to well below 2 degrees, and preferably to 1.5 degrees. Further information||China, European Union, Australia and others confirmed support for the Paris Agreement. France planned to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.|
One measure of the impact of companies is the annual revenue they earn from products and services which are helping to meet the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs identify seventeen things which governments, business and civil society need to deliver to build a just and sustainable future, things like climate action, reducing inequality and responsible consumption and production.
In the following table we have used data from MSCI ESG Research to estimate the value of selected ‘sustainable impact’ products and services produced annually by Australian and international companies that we invest in. This estimates our total sustainable impact to be 2.2 times the sustainable impact of an equivalent investment in the overall sharemarket.
|Companies / Industry Sectors|
|Social impact solutions including||Environmental impact solutions including|
|Major disease treatment||Sanitation||Education||Alternative energy||Energy efficiency||Green building||Sustainable water||Pollution prevention|
|Sustainable impact revenue / value per $1 million invested||4,031||2,905||2,260||12,683||14,208||12,021||2,984||1,787|
|Investment examples||Resmed Inc
|East Japan Railway
United Utilities Group Plc
|Positive product and service examples||Antibiotics Vaccines Treatments of hepatitis and breathing disorders||Baby care, feminine care, wound care and other hygiene products||Digital learning tools for teachers, learners and researchers||Wind, geothermal, solar and hydro electricity||Low emissions transport Technologies for more efficient power use||Certified green buildings||Water supply, treatment and recycling||Waste treatment and recycling Purification of auto exhaust gas|
|Contributing to Sustainable Development Goals|
• The revenue estimates in the table are for selected positive products and services which are produced by Australian and international companies whose shares we invest in and that have been analysed by global research firm MSCI ESG Research LLC for their “sustainable impact”. MSCI ESG Research have done this analysis for 58% of our share investments (by value). We assume that the $1 million is invested in listed shares of these companies only. We do not take account of our other investments such as fixed income, unlisted investments or our investments in companies which are not analysed by MSCI ESG Research for sustainable impact (such our investments in private equity and smaller IT and healthcare companies, many of which will also have sustainable impact).). Since they only look at selected products and services, MSCI ESG Research’s analysis of revenue from sustainable impact does not take account of all positive contributions that companies make to the SDGs. They also do not take account of the negative impacts of the way companies deliver their product and services – for example, if a company overcharges, advertises in a misleading way or mistreats its workers. However, our negative screening aims to eliminate such investments from our portfolio. The MSCI ESG Research calculation methodology makes many assumptions, further information is available here: https://www.msci.com/esg-sustainable-impact-metrics.
Using the MSCI ESG Research analysis we estimate our total sustainable impact to be 2.2 times the sustainable impact of investment of the same amount in the overall sharemarket. This estimate is based only on investment in shares in companies which MSCI ESG Research analyse for sustainable impact. The overall sharemarket is a blend of the S&P ASX200 Index (for Australian share holdings) and the MSCI World ex Australian Index (for international share holdings).
The above analysis is based on our share investments as at 31 December 2016. Although we have used company research data provided by MSCI ESG Research, MSCI ESG Research is not responsible for the way in which we have used that data to calculate the above amounts. MSCI ESG Research accepts no liability for any errors in their data or for our reporting and use of their data.
Donated to not for profit organisations who do good for the planet, people and animals
(*before deducting bonus and grant expense)
Winners voted for by the Australian ethical community - our clients, employees and our active social media community
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Australian Ethical Superannuation Pty Limited (ABN 43 079 259 733 RSE L0001441 RSE R1004731 AFSL 229949) SPIN AET0100AU