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Mindful Money Ethical And Impact Investment Awards 2024: Celebrating The Leaders And Raising Standards

A packed room of 200 people at the Mindful Money Ethical and Impact Investment awards yesterday evening assembled to recognise and applaud the leaders in the ethical and impact investing communities.

Kate Vennell provided a welcome to the awards, highlighting the important role of these awards in celebrating excellence and highlighting best investment practice. She commented: “The award winners are continuing to push the frontiers of best practice for the New Zealand investment sector. They show innovation and leadership in ethical and impact investing. We celebrate their progress in raising the standards, providing more choices for investors and creating more positive impacts for the climate, environment and social issues.”

Emerging leader, Izzy Fenwick, was the awards keynote speaker. She challenged the audience to do all they could in the growing climate crisis, so their children and grandchildren will be proud of their actions.

Michele A’Court provided the humour and light touch as the MC, entertaining an enthusiastic audience.

Barry Coates, co-CEO of Mindful Money explained: “In a sector rife with greenwash, these awards bring objectivity and rigour to assess ethical claims. The high quality of expertise of the 25 judges across eight judging panels is key to creating and maintaining a high degree of credibility. Winning these awards matters to the entrants and to investors.”

Best Ethical KiwiSaver Provider and Best Ethical Investor

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Two of the high profile categories were won by Pathfinder Asset Management, as they continue to raise standards and lead the investment sector on ethical issues. They were the winner of awards for the Most Ethical KiwiSaver Provider and the Best Ethical Investor.

The judges congratulated Pathfinder for its leadership. They recognised that Pathfinder is committed to ethical investing across all aspects of their work, including avoiding harmful investments, engaging with companies and driving down climate emissions. The judges particularly welcomed Pathfinder’s increased investment in sustainable themes, such as renewable energy, and in positive impact companies.

The judges highly commended Simplicity in the Best Ethical KiwiSaver provider category. They have carved out a unique role amongst KiwiSaver providers, combining a low fees range of funds with a strong commitment to deliver positive benefits through initiatives such as Simplicity Living, investments in social housing and renewable energy, and significant donations to charities. These ethical commitments that are making a tangible difference.

The Climate Venture Capital Fund was commended in the Best Ethical Investor category.

Best New Ethical Investment Fund 2024

Newcomer to the New Zealand market, Artesian won the Best New Ethical Fund award with their Artesian Green and Sustainable Bond Fund. The judges welcomed this innovative offering into the New Zealand market, with strong ESG credentials and an orientation towards sustainability themes. They noted that Artesian has a strong framework for measurement and reporting. The fund is marketed by Devon Asset Management in New Zealand.

The judges gave a commendation to the Betashares Global Sustainability Leaders Fund. They were impressed by their strong framework for avoiding harm and influencing companies through effective engagement.

Best Overseas Ethical Fund

The Best Overseas Ethical Fund award honours the funds that are registered overseas but actively marketed in New Zealand. They are typically included in the portfolios of financial advisers and institutions. The judges commented on the high quality of all the entries, reflecting the depth of experience and expertise on ethical investing in the Australian market.

The winner of the category was the Australian Ethical Australian Shares Fund. The judges commended Australian Ethical on the way it has embedded ethical investing across its business and investment processes. The judges particularly welcomed their reporting on the outcome of stewardship engagements, and the clear processes leading to divestment where sufficient change is not achieved.

A commendation was given to Pengana WHEB Sustainable Impact Fund. The judges were impressed by the process that the Pengana WHEB fund uses for stewardship and engagement, including a time-bound escalation process, objective milestones for progress, and regular reviews of the effectiveness of engagement. The fund also sets a high standard for reporting on the positive impact from companies in their portfolio, along with excellent communications to financial advisers and clients.

The Best Impact Investment Fund

The winner of the category is Purpose Capital. The judges were impressed by their place-based investing, responding to the needs of communities. Purpose Capital makes strong contributions to the success of the companies they invest in. The judges also acknowledged the importance of their collaborative processes, and the catalytic role that Purpose Capital plays in attracting other institutional funding.

The judges were complimentary about the sound framework that the Climate Venture Capital Fund has put in place and gave them a commendation. In addition to their focus on emissions reductions, they include climate adaptation and resilience as important complementary considerations.

The Best Net Zero and Climate Action Investor

The winner of the Climate award was Climate Venture Capital Fund . The judges were impressed by their significant contribution to the establishment and growth of companies in their portfolio, through providing climate expertise, impact measurement and commercial advice. They are also playing a crucial role in building a stronger climate solutions sector in New Zealand. The fund has made strong progress since the last awards and the founders are now raising capital for a scale up fund.

A commendation was given to Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, otherwise known as the NZ Super Fund. The judges recognised that the Super Fund is one of the leading international sovereign wealth funds in climate policy and action. They welcomed the continued progress in reducing emissions intensity, and the increasing investment in climate solutions, particularly in New Zealand.

Best Ethical Financial Adviser

The winner of the award is Moneyworks. The judges commended Moneyworks for integrating ethical issues throughout their client advice processes. They have a thorough and comprehensive approach to matching investment portfolios to client preferences, with innovative use of technology. They demonstrate a strong commitment to ethical investing, as shown by their B-Corp certification.

A commendation was given to Ethical Investing NZ. They demonstrated good processes for discussing ethical preferences with clients, encompassing family and community relationships. They provide clients with clear communications and good documentation, including information on what is excluded in portfolios and what is included.

Best Media Reporting on Ethical Investment

The winner of this year’s award is Eloise Gibson. The judges were impressed by the leading role that Eloise has played in reporting on climate change, and especially her project to rate climate action by New Zealand’s largest companies, using an innovative scorecard system and visual storytelling. The reporting outcomes included its position on the Stuff homepage and feedback from companies wanting to improve their score in future rankings.

For the first time, the judges have given two commendations. The first commendation goes to Greg Hurrell from BusinessDesk. The judges considered that Greg has shown expertise in reporting on complex investment issues. They welcomed his innovative approach in reporting on themes, such as greenwashing and climate reporting, covering the different perspectives. The range of Greg’s coverage shows an ongoing commitment to ethical investment and sustainable finance.

A commendation also goes to Steven Moe. The judges recognised Steven’s commitment to the Seeds podcast, with almost 400 interviews, as well as his work in engaging audiences through a range of articles, books, stories and events. The breadth of coverage is impressive, with a strong thread around diverse aspects of impact.

The People’s Choice Award

For the first time this year, members of the public voted for their favourite ethical investment fund. The award is dedicated to the memory of the late Rod Oram. He was previously head judge at these awards and was honoured for his huge contribution to climate action and sustainability in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The winner of the inaugural People’s Choice award is Pathfinder.

The votes were close. Highly commended was Simplicity.

Barry Coates concluded: “Congratulations to the winners in these awards and those highly commended. Their commitment to ethical practices and sustainability was evident in these awards. Their example inspires others to raise their standards.”

Congratulations also to all of the finalists. Each of these categories was closely contested and some excellent funds did not receive awards. We encourage those finalists, and others who are on the pathway towards best practice, to enter the awards next year.”

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