It is important to dig deeper to ensure that your ethical values are reflected within the investment choices that an ethical option can provide. An example of a state government superannuation fund for Queensland public servants is Q-Super. This fund provides a 'Socially Responsible' choice within their fund.
Q-Super’s website provides the following information on the ethics of this fund option: “This is for medium to long-term investors looking for an option that considers the investment’s impact on society and the environment”. Sounds good? Let’s look at the actual investment holdings.
Q-Super’s Socially Responsible Investment option has investments in Coal mines, Oil, and Gas, as well as companies accused of corruption.
Published Shareholdings include:
BHP (Coal, Oil, Gas)
AGL (3rd largest 'Scope 1' greenhouse gas emitter¹)
Oil Search (PNG oil)
Caltex Australia (Australia’s largest distributor of fossil fuel)
Santos (CSG, Oil, Gas)
Rio Tinto (Uranium, Coal, Other mining)
South32 (Coal, other mining)
Woodside Petroleum (Oil, Gas explorer, developer, supplier)
CIMIC Group (Ex Leightons) (A number of corruption allegations 2008-2016²)
Occidental Petroleum Corp (Oil & Gas)
(Note: Most recently published holdings Sept 2016)
There are also some laudable investment holdings such as Vesta Wind Systems, Novo Nordisk and Blackmores. However, Q-Super’s Investors would assume from the statement of ethics of the Socially Responsible Fund that it would invest predominantly in positive industries, and also avoid companies with their main operations being in fossil fuels.
So, what can a government superannuation investor do about ensuring that their personal values are reflected in their superannuation fund?
- Engage with your fund and ask them to provide investment choices that have a strong ethical mandate.
- If your fund does not disclose shareholdings, request this information for all investors to view.
- While your employer contributions must go to your government fund, accumulation account balances can be rolled over into an ethical superannuation fund. You can have two superannuation funds with most of your account balance invested in line with your values.
- Let your government fund know if you are moving account balances and why.
- Seek advice from an ethical investment specialist adviser that can provide bespoke advice on reflecting your financial and ethical needs. They know how to ensure that can invest ethically and add value to your financial future.
- 2014 Nat. Greenhouse & Energy Report data
- ABC news World Today 22/4/16
- Qsuper website www.qsuper.qld.gov.au
Written by Louise Edkins, Ethical Advisers Co-operative Australia member and Qld based Ethical Investment Adviser Specialist.