Every decision we make with our money, in the end, is a choice about what’s important to us and the sort of world we want. Our investments are no different.
Sustainable and responsible investment simply means aligning our investments with our values.
Let’s start with responsible investment. There’s a range of terms for it - ethical investment, Sustainable Responsible Investment (SRI), Responsible Investment, environmental, social, governance (ESG) engagement, impact investing. As the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia defines it, “responsible investment is a process that takes into account ESG and ethical issues into the investment process of research, analysis, selection, and monitoring of investments.” These ESG issues can include environmental (pollution, climate change, water, and other resources scarcity), social issues (local communities, employees, health and safety), and corporate governance issues (prudent management, business ethics, strong boards, appropriate executive pay). Increasingly, these issues are risks – to the companies themselves, and to investors.
People generally have one or more of three aims: avoiding harm, benefiting stakeholders, contributing to solutions:
Does it cost?
Many people assume that investing responsibly will come at a cost. Fortunately, the news is good.
According to recent research by the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA), responsible
investment funds performed at least as well as their peers.
That makes sense to us. Companies which are better at ESG treat all their stakeholders better – their
customers, their staff, the environment and so on. They’re more likely to have happier staff, more loyal
clients, reduced environmental costs, have more diversity so make better decisions - so should be more
Because we are all different, there is no one approach that works for everyone. Nor is there a ‘perfect
investment’ – there are always trade-offs. C2C Partners counsels taking a pragmatic approach: doing
something is better than nothing, some approaches are more effective than others, and every year there
are more and better options.
Increasingly, the biggest issue of all is climate change – yet few RI and ethical investments take it into
account. Recently, we’re seeing new, smarter approaches that explicitly look to measure and then reduce
the CO2 impact of their investments.
Many advisers and funds provide responsible and ethical investment solutions. That’s a great start – but itcan be a costly one.
Most investment funds – ethical or not - are “active”. Most advisers believe that, too. They try to pickwinners. Each claims they and they alone have the ‘secret sauce’. But the evidence is clear: trying to pickwinners doesn’t work. Around the world, most investment funds that follow this “active” approach not onlydon’t achieve the market, they also underperform the market. They’re also very costly. The result?Investors and advisers who follow this approach use costly, narrowly-diversified funds, so you wind up withlower returns and greater risks. That’s why index and passive funds have become so popular – but there isan even better way.
Based on rigorous academic research here and overseas, we believe that markets are efficient and pricesreflect all available information. We favour investments that are proven to have higher expected returnsover time – smaller companies outperform larger ones, ‘value’ companies outperform ‘growth’ ones. Welook to keep transaction and other hidden costs as low as possible. We also seek to reduce the risk forinvestors.
Until recently, you could either invest in efficient, low cost funds, or in responsible investment funds. Webelieve a well-constructed portfolio can reflect your personal values, whilst maintaining a low cost,evidence-based solution to help you meet your goals.
We call it Sustainable Investment
Sustainable Investment (SI) marries the two key aspects of investment:
Ethical and ESG Sustainability
SI is the best of both worlds – investing on values and ESG basis, but in a way that is low-cost andtargets higher returns. It really is the best of both worlds.
Some firms offer responsible investment as an option. Others offer low-cost asset class funds. C2CPartners is the first New Zealand advisory firm to make SI central to what we do. It’s the culminationof founder Peter Lee’s 20-year involvement in ethical and responsible investment, from setting up ethicalfunds to providing great solutions. We’re proud to be leading the way in SI.
In conjunction with our research partner Consilium, backed by research from Morningstar and ourselves,we’ve designed a series of sophisticated, low-cost SI solutions. Click here to find out more, and about howwe apply our philosophy to what is still an imperfect market here in New Zealand.
Rob and Mary