Consumer polling released on Tuesday highlights just how strongly New Zealanders believe their KiwiSaver providers should consider environmental, social and ethical factors as a part of delivering good investment products and financial returns.

A clear majority of respondents in the TNS poll – some 81% - believe it is important that KiwiSaver funds consider environmental, social and ethical factors, providing a loud and clear signal that New Zealanders expect their retirement savings to be invested responsibly. The polling very clearly highlights that people don’t see it as a choice between financial considerations or personal values, but that both should be part of good investment practice.

Simon O’Connor, CEO of the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA), says the poll confirms the strength of conviction that New Zealanders don’t want their retirement savings to come at a cost to society and the environment. “The good news is that investors should be able to have their cake and eat it too, as a strong body of evidence now shows us that investing in more sustainable companies can deliver stronger investment outcomes.”

While historically the focus has been on avoiding certain investments, the poll showed a strong preference for KiwiSaver providers to be active shareholders. 

Key findings:

  • The top 5 industries that most respondents want to avoid investing in are whaling, nuclear power, tobacco, gambling and weapons.
  • The key issues New Zealanders want taken into account are related to people and animals such as slavery, child labour and animal cruelty. These were ranked above environmental issues such as environmental damage and carbon emissions. All named issues were considered to be important.
  • When asked about the performance of responsible or ethical funds compared to standard funds, a large proportion of people indicated they believed there was no difference in performance or that responsible funds would outperform.
  • The main barriers to investing are a lack of time to look at all the options and compare them, and they feel there is not enough independent information available.

The survey was carried out by TNS in conjunction with RIAA and Kiwi Wealth.