Australians want their super invested responsibly

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New polling results have been released in Sydney today at the annual Responsible Investment Conference, organised by peak industry group the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA).

According to the national poll, most Australians (54%) would rather invest in a responsible super fund than a super fund which only considers maximising financial returns (46%).

“This demonstrates the enormous potential for growth in the responsible investment sector – with still only $152 billion or 16% of total assets under management invested in responsible investment products,” said RIAA CEO Simon O’Connor.

“Even more significant is that seven in ten Australians (69%) think it’s important for super funds to make responsible investments, for example, by investing in companies that build clean energy infrastructure or avoiding investment that harm the community like tobacco.”

This strong support for responsible super funds – funds that consider the environmental, social and governance issues of the companies it invests in – isn’t confined to a particular age group, with the highest level of support amongst young Australians aged 18-24 and those aged 50 or older (both 60%).

“People are now cottoning on to the fact that you can invest responsibly and maximize financial returns. A large majority of Australians (82%) believe that responsible super funds perform as well as or better than ‘traditional’ super funds. This is supported by findings in the Responsible Investment Benchmark Report 2013 showing 5-year returns post-GFC have been stronger for responsible investment funds than the benchmark and mainstream funds,” said O’Connor.

The research clearly signals the major impediments to people switching to responsible investment options: not enough independent information available (47%); and insufficient time to look at and compare all the options (44%).

Super invested responsibly in Australia

“There is a substantial opportunity for the industry to respond to the investment preferences of most Australians. We need to step-up engagement and make it easier for members to choose products by providing information that is relevant, trustworthy and accessible.”

“The clear majority of Australians want their super funds invested in well managed companies which are making positive environmental and social impacts, or that avoid investments which harm the community. Anything less runs contrary to the basic expectations of Australians. All investors, including super funds and financial advisers, should take note of this message.

“The good news is, performance results show us clearly that we can invest responsibly and maximise financial returns,” said O’Connor.

For a copy of the report, click here (under 1 meg).

Read more about responsible investment and the 2013 responsible investment report by RIAA.

The national poll was conducted online by Lonergan Research among 1,026 Australians aged 18 years or older, between the 5th and 7th November 2013.

More resources and links about responsible investment can be found on the RIAA website here.

To find out how universities and other institutions around the world are moving to ethical investment and implementing fossil fuel divestment  (relevant to banking, superannuation and other investments), visit

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