The Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA) is gearing up for an expected large turn-out to its NZ annual conference.
Matthew Mimms, RIAA NZ representative, said the conference – set down for September 18 at the Hilton Hotel in Auckland – was already generating a lot of interest with its program almost finalised.
Mimms said the RIAA conference would include the release of new retail investor research as well as launching the inaugural ‘Financial adviser guide to responsible investment’.
“We hope the guide will help and encourage more financial advisers to engage with responsible investment,” he said.
The conference, which has been a sell-out affair over the last three years in line with burgeoning industry interest in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, would canvas a broad range of subjects and viewpoints, Mimms said.
He said RIAA was aiming for up to 150 delegates at the event with about 10 sponsors already committed.
To date, RIAA has locked in a number of speakers including legal high-flyer and University of Waikato lecturer, Dr Robert Joseph, who would supply an iwi perspective on intergenerational investing and governance.
As well, the conference would cover ESG investment insights from CEOs, brokers and analysts. The day-long event would also address responsible investment themes in private markets; a panel session on how investors can manage for climate change; impact investing; and, upcoming regulatory issues.
For the first time, too, RIAA is hosting a conference dinner in an effort to bolster industry networks and “a sense of community”, Mimms said.
In addition to Joseph, confirmed conference presenters and panelists include: Tama Potaka, New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZS) investment hub coordinator; Erica Miles, KPMG director health and safety, and sustainability; Pathfinder director, John Berry; and, Mint Asset Management chief, Rebecca Thomas.
The conference will also feature a panel session on climate change and investment with: Slade Robertson, Devon Funds Management chief; Catalina Secreteanu, head of Asia-Pacific client relations for Sustainalytics in Sydney; Kirsten Le Mesurier, AMP Capital portfolio manager and ESG specialist; Sam Stubbs, Simplicity founder; and, Simon O’Grady, Kiwi Wealth chief investment officer.
“With $131bn being invested under responsible investment strategies, the investment industry is responding to both the rising interest of everyday New Zealanders, an acceptance that ESG and ethical issues are critical components of good investment practice and the rising focus on responsible investment within regulation,” RIAA says.
The RIAA annual survey on the NZ market found responsible investment assets under management grew by a massive 2,500 per cent over the 12 months to December 2016 – largely due to KiwiSaver scheme changes in the wake of a media controversy around potential illegal exposure to cluster bomb manufactuers.
Mimms said RIAA would also release the latest responsible investment benchmark survey data for the NZ market in a series of presentations in the middle of August.
Meanwhile, Mercer has all but finalised its conference schedule slated for Wellington the week after the RIAA event.
While it shares some subject matter with RIAA – namely a session on impact investing – the Mercer conference includes its usual in-depth look at the top investment issues of the day, according to the group’s head of institutional wealth, Russell Garrett.
Garrett said as well as the traditional square-off between Mercer Pacific chief investment strategist, Dave Stuart, and NZ CIO, Philip Houghton-Brown, the one-day symposium includes an analysis of NZ retirement income prospects, a defence of bonds, and an overview of global private equity.
“Global private equity is used extensively by funds in the US,” Garrett said. “Some NZ funds do have private equity but it tends to be just local investments – except for the large government funds.”
The Mercer event, set down for September 25 at Wellington’s InterContinental, also includes a look at the potential fallout from looming global trade wars by now-independent economist, Cameron Bagrie, and a, hopefully, lycre-free recount of how team NZ pedalled to victory in the America’s Cup from top cyclist (and cyclor), Simon van Velthooven.