Maybe it’s not breaking news but a Mercer NZ survey has found women tend to be more responsible than men, in their KiwiSaver preferences at least.
According to the new Mercer KiwiSaver sentiment study, almost 80 per cent of women rated access to responsible investment as important when selecting a scheme compared to 69 per cent of men.
“Women on average are nearly 10% more likely than men to switch providers if their funds are invested in industries that don’t align to their values, such as weapons, gambling and oil and gas exploration,” the report says.
However, responsible investment ranked at the bottom of the top five most important KiwiSaver features for women, who ranked ‘communication material’ and ‘investment performance’ in first- and second-place, respectively.
Responsible investment didn’t make the male top-five list, which rated performance as the most important KiwiSaver feature followed by competitive fees. Men also included ‘investment options’ as a key KiwiSaver attribute, which remained outside the female top-five rankings.
In a release, Sarah Whitelock, Mercer NZ consumer wealth leader, said: “Investment performance is top of mind for investors across the market, however we found that a growing number of members also want their money invested responsibly and in line with their personal values.”
The Mercer survey found the KiwiSaver knowledge gap as closed considerably since its 2014 study with men and women now on an almost equal footing.
“We quizzed KiwiSaver members and on average men answered 7.5 out of 11 correct, compared to women who answered 7 out of 11 correct,” the report says. “However, high levels of uncertainty continue to exist – in particular, among women in relation to tax rates (46% of women were unsure) and the number of KiwiSaver options you can invest in (39% of women were unsure).”
But as well as gender, age was another factor in KiwiSaver member attitudes towards responsible investment, the Mercer study found.
“On average, KiwiSaver members under 40 are nearly 10% more likely to express concern over non-sustainable industries (e.g. nuclear power, oil and gas exploration, mining and fossil fuels) and take the lead with shifting providers if their funds are invested in these industry types when compared to their older counterparts,” the report says.
Whitelock said New Zealanders increasingly expect their investments to align with “issues that matter to them”.
“KiwiSaver members have the opportunity to actively invest responsibly and to use their voice as an investor to tell fund managers how well they are doing on environmental and social issues,” she said. “Fund managers have the power to make a difference through proxy voting and engaging with companies.”
The Mercer study was based on an online survey carried out by research firm Dynata that tapped into over 1,000 KiwiSaver members in late June, early July this year.