Grosvenor’s socially responsible investment (SRI) KiwiSaver funds are the first in the sector to pass muster under recently-revamped certification standards set by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA).
In a statement, David Beattie, Grosvenor chief, said RIAA certification of its two SRI KiwiSaver products last week reflected the Wellington-based investment firm’s commitment to the responsible investing process.
“We are proud to be the only KiwiSaver provider with funds certified by the RIAA,” Beattie said in the statement. “Kiwis are telling us they want to invest ethically and we are happy to do our bit and help them do just that.”
The RIAA has already certified three Grosvenor ‘Investment Series’ SRI funds under its program that to date covers over 80 products offered by about 30 Australasian organisations.
Last year the RIAA revamped its SRI certification process, tightening up criteria as well as introducing new administration and compliance processes, including a random spot audit of between 5-10 per cent of certified products each year.
The Australasian SRI industry body plans to build its RIAA certified product list into a fund-finding web tool due to launch by mid 2016.
“This will become a key tool to unlock the demand for RI products through retail investors and financial advisers, show casing RIAA Certified products in a consumer friendly manner and targeting 5000 hits per month,” the RIAA told members last month.
The SRI fund-finder is part of the RIAA’s ambitious plan to increase the sector’s market share from the current 2.5 per cent of the region’s total assets under management to 10 per cent in three years.
“It’s our view that by achieving this, which includes a focus on funds flow growth in NZ, we have a strong chance of also progressing towards achieving the other elements of our goal – ‘to shift more capital into sustainable assets and enterprises, to shape more responsible financial markets, to underpin strong investment returns, and a healthier economy, society and environment’,” the RIAA told members.
While the SRI trend has been slow to take off in NZ, Beattie said Grosvenor had noticed a recent uptick in queries from the public looking for ethical investing products.
“Every week we are contacted by investors looking for ethical and responsible investments,” he said in the statement. “We are connecting these clients with advisers and seeing great outcomes for all.”
To date, Grosvenor has accumulated almost $18 million and just over 4,000 members in its KiwiSaver SRI balanced fund with the SRI growth option reporting 1,556 members and $17 million under management as at December 31 last year.
Beattie said Grosvenor SRI KiwiSaver member balances were almost 30 per cent higher than overall scheme averages.
Meanwhile, an RIAA survey carried out over last December and January 2016 found its NZ members were less satisfied with the organisation than their Australian counterparts.
According to the survey report, 94 per cent of Australian members said the RIAA did a good job of raising awareness of the SRI sector compared to just 60 per cent across the Tasman.
However, this was the first year the RIAA separated out the NZ results. The Australian RIAA member satisfaction rating rose from 45 per cent in 2012 to its almost 100 per cent rating in the latest survey, which tapped into 22 per cent of its 164 members.
The RIAA has also released a program of NZ activities planned for 2016, including the release of the New Zealand Responsible Investment Benchmark Report in July and a national conference set down for November 15 in Auckland