Show us your money!

By Fiona Stephenson

We are in the middle of a profound cultural shift around sustainability. Conscious consumerism is on the rise, and this applies to every facet of life. This is especially true when it comes to money and how we choose to spend and save it.  

Three years ago there was a wave of pressure which forced KiwiSaver providers to ditch investments in clusters bombs, nuclear weapons and tobacco stocks. In the wake of the terror attack in Christchurch, KiwiSaver providers are now facing difficult decisions over investments in Facebook, Google and Twitter, changing the way they invest to match the New Zealand Government’s ban on semi-automatic guns – more on that here.

Our question for you however, is do you know what your KiwiSaver money is doing now?

For many of us, KiwiSaver will be the most important investment we make and for some of us, it will be the only one we make. The way we invest our money is a powerful and direct way to have an impact on the world.  You can choose to invest your KiwiSaver savings in funds that match your personal sustainability values. According to the Responsible Investment Benchmark Report released last year, many ethical funds out perform large capital fund average.

Small things done consistently have great impact and there are more socially responsible options available now than there have ever been before. So, in the best interests of the sustainable and ethical world we’re working to create, put on your Superhero cape and take a closer look at what fund your KiwiSaver invests in.

Here’s what you can do:

Step One: Find out what kind of KiwiSaver fund your money is invested in

As long as you know the name of your fund, there are online tools available like this one from Sorted that will allow you to see how your money is invested. If you are uncertain, contact your KiwiSaver provider and ask. This is your hard earned money and your concerns count. Some banks have had surprisingly little feedback from KiwiSaver customers, so don’t miss the opportunity to ask for advice.

Step Two: Choose a provider that reflects your concerns

If you decide that you are interested in creating a more ethical and sustainable world and want to redirect your funds accordingly, find a provider that reflects your concerns. The IRD estimates that 500,000 Kiwis use their organisation’s default provider. Choosing the right provider can be a powerful lever for positive change. You have the power to make your savings a force for good. If you are interested in changing for good, you must apply direct to the provider. The KiwiSaver website lists providers here. For advice on choosing a fund, check out this guide from Sorted.

Step Three: Use the SBN directory to find the advice you need

The SBN membership includes many NZ banks, investment managers and financial advisers who choose to invest ethically. Use the SBN Directory to draw on their experience and expertise. Sam McGlennon from the Projects & Advisory team says: “As customers, employees and employers, it’s clear after the Christchurch shootings we need to keep monitoring and adapting our financial practices as our ethics and understanding evolve. Perhaps the most important thing is to show support and solidarity for those pushing to do the right things”.