Auckland boutique investment firm and KiwiSaver provider, Pathfinder, has joined the global ‘B Corps’ club – the first NZ fund manager certified under the independent purpose-focused business accreditation standards.
B Corps is an international body that assesses businesses based on the “highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”, according to its website.
Since launch in 2006, B Corps has certified over 3,500 companies across the world including more than 30 in NZ. Pathfinder joins fund distribution and online broking platform, Sharesies, in the NZ B Corps stable – the only two local financial services firms on the list of 34.
In a statement, Pathfinder chief, John Berry, said the global mark of approval reflected the manager’s focus on ethical investment.
“We want to make great returns for our investors and at the same time generate these great returns in a way that is good for our planet and communities. Our team is committed to this mission,” Berry said. “Obtaining B Corp certification is not easy. It requires a high level of transparency as well as social and environmental performance. It is not simply about what we do and don’t invest in as a fund manager.”
He said the B Corp status represents a “next level” above the UN Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) assessment. Many investors globally and in NZ have signed on to the PRI standards, which requiring regular oversight and ratings. Pathfinder has an A+ PRI rating, Berry said – on a par with the NZ Superannuation Fund.
After launching in 2010, Pathfinder ramped up its responsible investment focus a few years ago with the Global Water Fund and Ethical Trans-Tasman Fund among its suite of seven funds.
Last year Pathfinder launched the CareSaver KiwiSaver scheme that has grown to more than $35 million held on behalf of over 1,300 members.
Also last week, another NZ-owned investment firm, the Wellington-headquartered Booster, signed on a second academic institution to its start-up funding program.
After partnering with the Wellington Victoria University start-up hub (UniVentures) in 2018, NZ Innovation Booster (NZIB) will now also work with a similar Otago University entity to invest in promising research-based business opportunities.
With NZIB, Booster (including its KiwiSaver funds) “provides early stage investment to take fledgling companies to their next stage of development or commercialisation”, the release says.
“The addition of Otago Innovation Limited, the commercialisation vehicle for University of Otago research, gives the partnership access to the University’s exciting and innovative start-up companies while greatly improving their access to next-stage funding,” the statement says.
Initially targeting a total investment of $10 million over a five-year period, the NZIB portfolio has to date placed about $6 million in eight underlying university-incubated start-ups across sectors including health, IT and materials.
Drug-testing company, InsituGen, is the most recent to enter the NZIB portfolio, the release says.
Allan Yeo, Booster managing director, said in the statement: “We think it’s essential for New Zealand’s prosperity to invest in our intellectual property, while NZIB gives our KiwiSaver investors access to science and technology innovations that aren’t usually available to everyday investors. As New Zealanders, we all benefit when IP and the opportunities it creates stay here. This is our way of helping that happen”.
Booster has about $2 billion in retail funds under management, according to figures from Australian research house Plan for Life.