Simplicity's approach to ethical investing and making a difference
With the recent launch of new comparison sites rating KiwiSaver providers on environmental, social and governance issues, we thought it timely to clarify our approach and policy.
Removal of undesirable companies
We are 95% of the way through the removal of companies substantially involved in nuclear, all weapons, tobacco, alcohol, gaming and gambling and pornography. The specific criteria for removal can be found here.
We use a benchmark and criteria provided by Vanguard and FTSE, which we strongly encouraged them to provide, and which we apply locally and globally to all investments. Predominantly Australian companies remain, and we are in the process of establishing procedures to remove investment in them.
In NZ, we have sold down any investment in Sky City.
Advocacy, research and shareholder activism
We actively advocate for companies in New Zealand to embrace diversity and sustainability in their core business principles. In order for this to be effective, we research companies in NZ via our research team and/or with third parties.
Over time we expect to increase our activity in this area, with early examples of our research and advocacy being;
An annual survey of diversity in the governance of New Zealand’s Top 100 companies here.
NZ’s first survey and analysis of corporate philanthropy here.
Advocacy for a Royal Commission into banking here.
Our founder Sam Stubbs gave a TED talk in 2018 on shareholder activism here.
15% of our management fees are paid to charity. Many who receive donations are working in areas of interest to ethically motivates investors eg. In the environment (see here) and the impact of weapons (see here).
We are also a non-profit, which while not ethical per se, does help ensure our decisions are driven by members best interests.
We will never be able to offer funds which are 100% aligned with each members ethics and interests. And we expect that the debate over the ethics of investment will never go away. Nor should it, because where money is invested impacts companies behaviours. We will always seek to lead from the front in this area, and walk the walk rather than just talk the talk and use platitudes.