Financial Institutions Rush to SRI
Monday, 30th April 2001 at 1:04 pm
Financial Institutions are rushing to promote products deemed to be socially responsible investments –SRI. Whether it’s to placate the critics of their high profit operations or whether it’s to showcase their corporate citizenship… canny investors appear to be the winners.
Every day it seems that the institutions that Australians place their money with are announcing their newfound social conscience with many suggesting they are trailblazers.
The IOOF in its latest members’ magazine announces that it is leading the charge towards socially responsible investing saying ‘our members want their money to work for them in a positive way’.
IOOF has taken a founding shareholding in establishing what it describes as Australia’s first and only dedicated ethical and environmental investment research group, SIRIS.
The Managing Director of IOOF, Rob Turner says the company invested in SIRIS to capitalise on the world wide trend towards SRI because investors have driven a cultural change within the funds management industry by making ethical and environmental issues a fundamental part of the decision making process.
IOOF will be turning this research into developing new products for investors that they say will deliver increased levels of social responsibility.
The Australian Financial Review reports that institutional and superannuation SRI investments in Australia now stand at a $2 billion, while in the United States 13 percent or $30 trillion in funds under professional management are handled in a socially responsible manner.
All of the top banks in Australia have jumped into the world of SRI including Westpac, Challenge, Commonwealth, NAB, ANZ and Bendigo Bank offering retail investments in markets or industries that are deemed to be ethically sound, socially responsible and at the same time are achieve top investment performance.
Late last year Bendigo Bank announced what it described as the first ethical deposit account associated with an Australian bank and followed the signing of an agreement between the bank and Community Aid Abroad’s Ethical Investment Trust.
Under the agreement, Bendigo Bank pays the Ethical Investment Trust commission on all investments in the new account. Investors can also pass on part or all of their interest earnings to the Trust.
Kathleen Townsend from the CAA Trust says the agreement was made with Bendigo because of its commitment to ethical investment and community values.
The editor of Ethical Investor, Paddy Manning says the financial institutions have not gone into SRI as a knee jerk reaction but have made the move after extensive research that shows the public is now very interested and aware of the concept of the triple bottom line.
Manning’s Internet magazine has been following the trends in SRI. Take a look at the site at www.ethicalinvestor.com.au.
Is your organisation taking a close look at SRI?
Let us know by joining our online Forum at probonoaustralia.com.au.