Being ethical and sustainable can mean different things to different people, so it’s essential to understand what they mean in practice and why they are important when it comes to matching a super fund with your investment objectives and your ethical values and beliefs.
Defining ‘sustainable and ethical superannuation funds’
The term ‘sustainable’, the ‘ability to sustain’, is typically defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
In addition to financial factors, sustainable investment approaches consider environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors, often missing in traditional approaches for more holistic decisions.
‘Ethical’ is a more subjective term because it is based on what a person feels is right or wrong. That can differ depending on your beliefs, your life experiences and what you enjoy.
We understand that Australians are increasingly wanting to align their ethics and consider how their super fund addresses the issues most important to them. This can be achieved in different ways. You should consider the details of your investment options to work out what is right for you.
We take a holistic, sustainable approach to your investments
At Mercer Super, we believe that taking a holistic approach to investing is paramount, so we consider the environmental, social, corporate governance (ESG) and ethical factors, alongside financial performance when making investment decisions, to help deliver you stronger returns.
Although we look at a significant number of ESG factors when reviewing sustainable investment risks and opportunities, some examples include:
Our approach to sustainable investing
Embedded in all of our investment options
At Mercer Super, sustainability is embedded in all of our investment options and is one of the key considerations in every investment decision we make.
To help ensure your super is invested sustainably we:
adopt a broader view of risk and return by taking into account ESG factors as part of our decision making process
aim to improve company and market environment prospects by being active owners and engaging directly with the companies we invest in on your behalf
advocate for and invest in solutions to the world’s sustainability challenges
exclude companies producing tobacco or controversial weapons
monitor your investments and report on how they’re meeting sustainable investing and financial performance targets
Four pillars of sustainable investment implementation
We implement our sustainable investment approach through four pillars:
1. Integration: we take a broader view on the risk and return of an investment by looking at the environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.
2. Active ownership: we aim to improve prospects for companies or markets by being active owners through voting and engagement.
3. Investment: our approach is designed to achieve long-term growth and positive ‘impact’ outcomes by allocating to companies with sustainability solutions.
4. Screening: align mission or values priorities by screening portfolios for products or activities causing unacceptable harm – tobacco and controversial weapons across all funds.
The four pillars are supported by a foundation of sustainable investment beliefs, policy and processes, and communicated through clear and transparent reporting.
Positively and negatively screen investments
In addition to ensuring that our initial investments are sustainable, we continuously screen and monitor our investments under the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Principles.
The incidents we look for are typically related to human rights, labour, environmental and corruption issues, among others. These issues are often both ethical and tend to present financial risks to investors.
We also set the expectation with our investment managers that they engage with companies to resolve any UNGC-related issues that we identify via our screening process, as well as reporting the progress on resolution to us.
Alexis Cheang our Head of Sustainable Investments and Komal Jalan our Sustainable Investment Manager unpack our sustainable investment approach in this video.
Match your ethos further with our Sustainable Plus options
Although all of our investment options are invested sustainably, we offer seven Sustainable Plus investment options, which go beyond the standard approach to sustainable investing.
They are invested according to a wider set of ethical criteria and have a greater exposure to sustainability-themed investments. They have a broader exclusion approach, for example, excluding companies involved in production of alcohol, carbon intensive fossil fuels like thermal coal, gambling and adult entertainment. The list of companies excluded varies for each investment option.
As a leader in sustainable investment, we’re constantly innovating to respond to change. Everything we have learned on our almost 20 year sustainability journey is considered when we prepare portfolios for what the future might bring.
In 2021, we committed to a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 for our investment options. This commitment, targeting a reduction in carbon emissions of 45% by 2030, is just one of the many steps we’ve taken over the last 20 years to put sustainability at the forefront of our investments.
- Open all