One of the biggest challenges in making ethical investments is in knowing our own definitions of ‘ethical’ – and then knowing which companies align with our own ethics. For most investors, it’s not as easy as simply investing in an ‘Ethical’ fund: your definition of ‘ethical’ could vary widely from the fund manager’s.
What’s the problem?
‘Ethical’ is a word that different people use very differently. One person might focus strongly on environmental impacts, wanting to invest in green energy that will improve carbon outputs over the long term. Another might be more interested in ensuring that they don’t support companies that promote gambling or drug and alcohol use. Still another might focus on treatment of workers in emerging economies, preferring Fair Trade methods.
Here are a few examples of the holdings of ethical superannuation funds; holdings that one person might consider perfectly ethical, and another might not. UniSuper Sustainable High Growth Top ten holdings:
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Westpac Banking Corp
National Australia Bank Ltd
Telstra Corp Ltd
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group
Christian Super funds While the fund manager doesn’t list holdings per fund option, it does offer an exhaustive list of its holdings, arranged alphabetically per asset class rather than by holding percentage like most funds. Among its holdings:
Looking up fund holdings
While superannuation funds are legally required to disclose major holdings in their quarterly reports, which has only recently been made law, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the information is always easy to find online. If you’re already invested in the fund, you should receive either the quarterly report or a link to it via mail or email. If you don’t have that information readily available, though, there are some other ways to find it:
Fund manager’s website
Go to the investment fund manager’s website (Google the name of the company to find this).
Search for your particular investment fund.
The fund’s Quarterly Report should be available on the website, listing its major holdings. This might be a separate web page or a PDF.
Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA)
It can be faster to simply use the RIAA’s site. Note that this site only lists investment funds which meet strict ethical investment guidelines, and have been certified by the RIAA – so your fund might not be listed.
Go to the RIAA’s Certified Products webpage.
Find and click on your investment fund.
Scroll to the bottom of your investment fund’s information, and click on the Click through to holdings
I hope this has helped you to identify what your Superannuation Fund is investing your money into. If you have any questions or would like us to help you with your investigations, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Tags: Ethical investment research, Ethical superannuation investments, Financially mindful, Investment Funds, Major Holdings