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Mindful Money Announces Finalists For 4th Annual Ethical & Impact Investment Awards

Mindful Money has announced the finalists for the fourth annual Ethical and Impact Investment Awards. These awards recognise standout investors and individuals who have demonstrated commitment and expertise in driving sustainability and impact through their investment practices.

The finalists across eight categories were selected from a competitive pool of entries by a panel of 25 independent and expert judges. The categories this year have been expanded to include private capital, venture capital and asset owning institutions, in addition to investment fund managers. A new 'People's Choice Ethical Investment Award' has also been added to honour the late Rod Oram who did so much to champion sustainability.

Mindful Money’s Founder and Co-CEO, Barry Coates commented: “The role of the judges is crucial in ensuring these awards are credible and independent. We are deeply grateful for the time and expertise that the judges have put into selecting the finalists. Now we eagerly await the announcement of the winners in each category at the awards ceremony on 12th June in Auckland.”

The ethical investment market continues to grow and mature in New Zealand. Ethical and responsible investment has become a requirement for sound investment management. However, there is a huge variation in what that means in practice. These awards not only celebrate the leaders but also demonstrate what high standards of ethical investment look like in a sector that has few regulatory standards. The awards show that the public have more choice and higher ethical standards, backed by stronger evidence and authenticity, than in previous years.

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Mindful Money’s recently appointed Co-CEO, Kate Vennell explained: “Annual surveys show that consumers have growing expectations that their KiwiSaver or investment funds will be invested with high ethical standards. They are wary of greenwashing and exaggerated claims of being green or sustainable. The Mindful Money awards look behind the rhetoric, and judge the underlying policies and practices in each of the eight categories.”

Best Ethical KiwiSaver Provider (sponsored by Public Trust)
This is a crucial category, with a total of over $100 billion invested by 370 KiwiSaver funds. The judges were looking for the fund provider with the highest standards across the main strategies of avoiding harm, engagement to raise social and environmental standards, investing for positive impact and embodying an ethical approach. It is widely recognised that these are not only ethical standards, but important for sound investment management.

The finalists in the awards (in alphabetical order) are:

Generate KiwiSaver
Medical Assurance Society (MAS)
Pathfinder Asset Management

Best Ethical Investor
This category includes $72 billion of funds under management in 502 retail managed funds, as well as private capital, venture capital and asset owner investments. A growing number of these funds are managed under some form of ethical investment strategy, including exclusions, integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors, stewardship, and investing for positive social and environmental outcomes. The judges were looking for providers that demonstrate high ethical standards and outcomes. The finalists are:

Climate Venture Capital Fund
Harbour Asset Management
Pathfinder Asset Management

Best New Ethical or Impact Fund
This category is for the specific fund that best embodies good ethical or impact practices. The judges were looking for innovation in a fund launched over the past year, providing New Zealand investors with new options. The finalists are:

Betashares Australian Sustainability Leaders Fund
Betashares Global Sustainability Leaders Fund
Devon Artesian Green and Sustainable Bond Fund

Best Impact Investment Fund
Surveys show that the New Zealand public are not only looking to avoid harm in their investments but also to contribute to positive social and environmental outcomes. The judges were looking for funds that are able to demonstrate a strong impact purpose, a rigorous framework for measurement, examples of tangible impact and additionality - evidence that the investment has made a tangible contribution to the positive impact. The finalists are:

Climate Venture Capital Fund
Purpose Capital Impact Fund

Best Net Zero and Climate Action Investor (sponsored by Morningstar Sustainalytics)
This category covers both the mainstream investment that drives financed emissions down towards net zero and dedicated funds investing in climate solutions. Although New Zealand’s largest listed companies and fund providers have been preparing climate disclosure reports, progress in emissions reductions has been slow compared to international best practice. However, the judges were pleased to recognise the standout performance of the following two finalists:

Climate Venture Capital Fund
Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund

Best Ethical Overseas Fund
This category is open to the overseas funds that are actively marketed in New Zealand, generally to financial advisers and institutional investors. The standards in this category were again high this year, with a strong focus on investment in sustainability themes as well as ethical practices. The judges noted that these funds add depth and diversity to the range of New Zealand funds on offer. The finalists are:

Australian Ethical Australian Shares Fund
Pengana WHEB Impact Fund
Stewart Investors Worldwide Leaders Sustainability Fund

Best Ethical Financial Adviser
Financial advisers have an important role in providing informed, independent and appropriate advice on ethical and impact investment. New Zealand investors should have access to advice that reflects their values and financial aspirations, and those of their family. Ethical financial advisers need to have strong capability for research into ethical options and an ability to match their clients with suitable products. The judges are seeing growing interest in ethical investment from financial advisers, driven by client demand, and we look forward to many more entries into this category next year. The finalists are:

Ethical Investing NZ 
Evergreen Advice
Moneyworks NZ

Best Media Reporting on Ethical Investment
The judges were looking for high standards of journalism on ethical and impact investing, attuned to the interests of their audiences. One of the crucial criteria for the judges was the impact that the reporting has in terms of engagement, education and influence. These metrics are often difficult for journalists to measure, but provide an important measure of the benefits that are associated with the media reporting. Finalists are:

Eloise Gibson, RNZ/Stuff
Greg Hurrell, BusinessDesk
Steven Moe, Seeds podcast
Will Mace, NBR

David Callanan, Public Trust Corporate Trustee Services GM, says he’s thrilled the organisation is a principal sponsor of the Awards. “The Mindful Money Awards do a fantastic job for raising awareness about the importance of ethical investing and celebrating those who do great work,” Callanan says. As the supervisor for 13 KiwiSaver schemes, Public Trust plays a significant role in investment fund oversight.

“More Kiwi are prioritising investing responsibly. Ethical investing is increasingly important to many KiwiSaver members and is growing in demand. We are proud to support fund managers working in this space as a supervisor.”

Jono Broome, Morningstar Sustainalytics commented that “After a demanding year for the responsible investment industry in New Zealand and globally, these awards present an opportunity to take stock of the achievements made and celebrate those industry players who have demonstrated a commitment to robust and purposeful responsible investment strategies. Morningstar Sustainalytics is pleased to support the work that Mindful Money does to recognise these achievements.”

Barry Coates concluded; “These are all worthy finalists and we look forward to revealing the winners at the awards celebration on 12th June. We are deeply grateful to all of those who submitted entries, including those who have not been shortlisted as finalists. The standard of entries was high and the judges had real difficulty in being able to shortlist a small number of finalists in each category. There were a number of promising entries that are early in their development and we encourage them, and others, to submit entries next year.”

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