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Investments: Consumer survey says responsible the new norm

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A large majority of New Zealanders expect their Kiwisaver and investment funds to be invested ethically and are ready to shift their funds if company practices are inconsistent with their values.

A new Responsible Investment Association and Mindful Money consumer survey undertaken by Colmar Brunton has been released today revealing New Zealanders care deeply about how their savings are invested.

The research was conducted online with 1,000 research panel members. The data has been weighted to ensure it is representative of the New Zealand population in terms of age, gender and regional spread. The maximum margin of error associated with this survey is ±3.1%.

It shows that people expect managers of their KiwiSavers and other investments to consider issues important to them, as well as delivering strong financial outcomes. The survey shows concern over a much deeper range of issues beyond just tobacco and controversial weapons when it comes to where their funds are invested.

"The top issues Kiwis want kept out of their KiwiSaver and other funds are animal cruelty, human rights abuse and labour rights ," explains Mindful Money founder Barry Coates. "Respondents also want to avoid investments in gambling, pornography, fossil fuels and palm oil.

"One of the most interesting findings from the research is that a lack of independent

information is the major barrier to a greater uptake of responsible investment by the public. The other major barrier is a lack of time to compare the options."

These initial insights have confirmed why the former Green MP has created Mindful Money - a newly launched charity, focused on providing independent information and helping Kiwis choose the options that align with their values.

The charity has partnered with the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) to deliver the research and together will present it at New Zealand’s annual Responsible Investment Conference, which takes place in Auckland on Tuesday.

"Building on RIAA’s 2016 consumer research, this research again shows us just how strongly New Zealanders want to ensure their investments are aligned with their values. Although the investment industry has moved rapidly to reflect consumer concerns around weapons and tobacco, this survey shows there remains work to ensure the finance sector is delivering investments that meet consumer expectations," says RIAA CEO Simon O’Connor.

"There has been a lot of discussion about how millennials are driving responsible investing, but this research shows that those over 60 years old are just as committed," explains O’Connor.

The survey also reveals that New Zealanders are calling for more transparency and information about the way their KiwiSaver funds are invested.

"Almost three quarters of respondents say they would be more likely to invest in a fund certified by an independent body," says O’Connor. The number of funds certified by RIAA has grown significantly in the two years since the last comprehensive survey of the New Zealand market.

The presentation of this survey will set the stage for the conference. The survey underscores that responsible investing is at a tipping point, with huge potential for growing consumer demand and deepening the impact.

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