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Mindful Money launches - A responsible investment platform

Mindful Money, a new charitable social enterprise helping people invest ethically, has launched today in New Zealand. The free service provides members of the public with a platform to check what is in their current KiwiSaver investments and to easily find funds that align with their values.

Mindful Money aims to change the way New Zealanders think about their investments. Currently only 1% of KiwiSaver funds have policies to avoid sectors like gambling, pornography and alcohol. And only 2% avoid investing in exploration and production of fossil fuels.

“Mindful Money is here to help the public with a simple choice - do you want to invest responsibly and use your money to avoid harm and do good?” says Barry Coates, founder of Mindful Money. “The KiwiSaver scheme has been important to help us all save. Now everyone with a KiwiSaver can also ensure their savings aren’t being used to harm people or destroy our environment.”

The starting point is enabling KiwiSaver account holders to find out where their funds are invested. When Mindful Money users enter the name of their KiwiSaver fund, they are shown the companies and proportion of their funds that are invested in issues of concern - fossil fuels, weapons, gambling, alcohol, pornography, tobacco, GMOs, palm oil, human rights and animal rights.

The issues of concern were identified in a survey last year by Mindful Money and the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia, undertaken by Colmar Brunton.

Barry Coates, founder and CEO of Mindful Money said: “The public has a right to know where their hard-earned savings are invested. Two thirds or more of New Zealand investors have said they want to avoid issues of concern like fossil fuels, weapons, human rights violations and animal cruelty. Now they can find out which companies are making profits from their savings.”

The platform also allows users to find funds that align with their values and to easily switch to a more responsible fund. These funds use strategies of avoiding sectors or investing in companies with higher standards, through Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) analysis. Both strategies are represented on the Mindful Money platform. There are nine providers and 23 funds that have been verified as meeting the high ethical standards set by Mindful Money. Users on the website can set the criteria they are looking for and find the fund that fits.

The platform is also a source of information and discussion on responsible investment. It documents the growing evidence that returns from well-managed responsible investment are, on average, at least as high as conventional investing, and the risks generally lower. The research explodes the myth that there is a financial penalty for investing for good.

“The time has come for a massive shift towards investing responsibly. It is growing rapidly worldwide. Now New Zealanders can feel good about their investments, do good for people and the planet and earn good returns. The relevant question isn't why invest ethically, it's why not?” says Barry Coates.

Mindful Money is a charity, aiming to make investment a force for good. The initial focus is on the $56 billion currently invested in KiwiSaver accounts.

“Mindful Money will empower investors and enable them to make informed decisions on the impact of their KiwiSaver funds and other investments. Together we will switch flows of money away from pollution, exploitation and inequality towards low emissions, sustainability and social equity. We want money to serve society, not the other way around” concludes Barry Coates.

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