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Media release: Desire to invest responsibly a big factor as more Kiwis sign up with Kiwi Wealth

July 30, 2018


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Kiwi Wealth has consolidated its position as New Zealand’s largest, wholly locally-owned KiwiSaver scheme provider, with membership surging past 200,000.

In the past year, more than 19,000 members have joined the Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme, which has more than $3.7 billion in funds under management.

Joe Bishop, Kiwi Wealth General Manager Customer, Product and Innovation, said the company’s launch of innovative retirement income planning tools and responsiveness to the demands of members for an effective responsible investing approach had driven growth.

“It’s a big milestone and a validation of the products and services we’ve created to give our members the skills and controls to help grow their retirement incomes.

“We’ve also introduced a number of industry-leading improvements to how people’s money is invested responsibly. We don’t pay lip service to responsible investing – we’ve taken the lead in tackling what is a really complex issue by putting good environmental, social and governance (ESG) outcomes alongside good financial ones.

“We were also the first default KiwiSaver scheme provider to have all funds independently certified by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA).

“The feedback from our members has been overwhelmingly positive and that’s why we’re growing. Our members are taking control of their KiwiSaver investments with the comfort of knowing they’re contributing to a better world and a better New Zealand.”

Last year, Kiwi Wealth launched its own enhanced index fund to resolve long-standing problems with low-cost “passive” index trackers used by many KiwiSaver scheme providers. The fund allows Kiwi Wealth to actively address responsible investment concerns right down to the individual security level, including the ability to exclude specific companies. It retains the low cost, liquidity and diversification benefits of a typical index tracker.

Kiwi Wealth recently engaged global proxy voting adviser Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) to manage the research and execution of proxy voting rights across its in-house global equity strategies.

ISS represents more than 1900 institutional clients in 115 global markets, executing close to 10 million proxy ballots annually. It will provide research and voting recommendations for all shares held directly by Kiwi Wealth and execute a voting strategy in accordance with Kiwi Wealth’s industry-leading responsible investment policy.

“Using shareholder voting rights to positively address ESG concerns is used by many active fund managers overseas,” says Mr Bishop.

“Combining our voting power with other like-minded, global shareholders allows Kiwis to positively influence behaviour in even the largest multinationals. We have a strong voice and we can lead change.

“For example, in the past three months shareholder proposals managed by ISS have taken aim at companies’ behaviour on global issues such as Climate Change, Human Rights, Gun Control and Data Privacy. By working with ISS, we are effectively exercising our voting rights, in accordance with our responsible investment policy, on the global stage.

“We believe that actively managing investments and proactively engaging with companies will be the best way to deliver good performance from a financial and responsible investing point-of-view. Set-and-forget passive investment strategies are unlikely to perform this way. More worryingly, they can also expose KiwiSaver members to investments in individual companies of highly questionable behaviour, because they operate in industries that haven’t had a blanket exclusion place on it.”

Kiwi Wealth’s white paper on responsible investment, endorsed by RIAA, found that responsible investing and fiduciary objectives were best achieved when ESG factors were considered across all investments in a portfolio in combination with actively engaging with companies and exercising proxy voting rights to influence company performance.

The Investing in an imperfect world: our take on true responsible investment white paper can be viewed online at https://www.kiwiwealth.co.nz/ri-whitepaper.

Kiwi Wealth Investments Limited Partnership (KWILP) manages investments for financial products and services offered by itself and its subsidiaries (the Kiwi Wealth Group), including the Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme.

Kiwi Wealth Limited is the issuer and manager of the Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme. The Product Disclosure Statement for the Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme is available at www.kiwiwealth.co.nz.

All of the funds in the Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme have been certified as responsibly invested by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), the key local industry body representing responsible and ethical investors across Australia and New Zealand.

The investment funds in the Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme have been certified by RIAA according to the strict operational and disclosure practices required under the Responsible Investment Certification Program. See www.responsibleinvestment.org for details.

The Responsible Investment Certification Program does not constitute financial product advice. Neither the Certification Symbol nor RIAA recommends to any person that any financial product is a suitable investment or that returns are guaranteed. Appropriate professional advice should be sought prior to making an investment decision. RIAA does not hold an Australian Financial Services Licence.

Tags: Media, Kiwi Wealth

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