New research has shown more than 90 per cent of Australians believe sustainable investing is important according to the latest BT Australian Financial Health Index, with almost one in five saying it is extremely important for their investments (including superannuation, managed funds or shares), to be in sustainable companies1.
BT Financial Group’s Head of Sustainability, Emma Pringle says the findings speak volumes regarding Australians’ changing attitude towards their investments and that knowing how a company makes their money is now a key consideration in investment choice.
The move to sustainable investing comes as BT launches sustainability scoring, an industry first, which allows financial advisers and customers visibility of how their investments rate around key sustainability factors. The sustainability scoring is available on BT Panorama’s investment menu for over 200 managed funds and the ASX200 listed companies.
“We’re seeing signs that show sustainable factors are just as important and valid as the money the company makes,” Ms Pringle said.
The integration and development of sustainability scoring has been created in partnership with leading global research houses Morningstar and Sustainalytics.
The scoring consists of a company’s overall ‘sustainability score’ as well as individual scores for each of the three categories – environment, social and governance (ESG) along with a controversies assessment ranking. The scores are marked out of 100, the higher the score the better a company is rated to perform in relation to ESG factors.
“We are very proud to bring this new level of transparency to investors and to be able to provide advisers with a meaningful resource to engage with their clients about the things that may matter to them,” Ms Pringle added.
The research also shows 52 per cent of people who currently have a financial adviser are more likely to see sustainable investment as very or extremely important, whereas only 44 per cent of Australians who have never had a financial advisers agreed.
“It makes sense that people who seek advice may be more interested in the way their money is invested. Certainly awareness of sustainable preferences gives advisers another way to connect with their clients’ personal values,” said Ms Pringle.
The sustainability scoring allows advisers and their customers the ability to review how their investments fare when it comes to environmental social and governance (ESG) factors which impacts how a company makes its money.
Drivers of sustainability scoring, such as effective management of climate risk, are here for the long-haul. Recent comments by APRA Executive Board Member Geoff Summerhayes acknowledging the reality that climate change poses a material financial risk for Australian businesses, is the strongest indicator yet of the role these factors play in the economy.2
What are sustainable investments?
Sustainable investing identifies the company’s long term approach to incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in the investment process.
Sustainable investments are not to be confused with ‘ethical or socially responsible investing.’ Sustainable investing is motivated by financial goals, aiming to create value and/or manage risk by identifying sustainable companies based on how they manage key ESG factors.
ESG factors have been known to affect the risk and return of investments and companies with superior ESG risk management are generally more likely to have lower costs of capital and better operational and financial performance.3
About the BT Australian Financial Health Index
The BT Australian Financial Health Index is in its fifth year and covers Australians’ attitudes and behaviour across a broad spectrum of financial needs. The Index provides insights from a comprehensive analysis of the financial wellbeing of Australians – their financial situation, managing finances, saving and spending, retirement and super, insurance and investments. The Index is compiled from surveying over 4,000 (18+) Australians. The data is weighted to ensure representation of the Australian population in accordance with census data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The 2016 BT Australian Financial Health Index canvassed the responses from 4486 Australians in November 2016.
Sustainalytics is a global provider of research and analysis employing over 100 multidisciplinary analysts. It supports over 350 investors worldwide including asset owners and asset managers with the integration of ESG and corporate governance factors into their investment processes. Sustainalytics provides comprehensive ESG ratings and research on more than 6,500 companies worldwide.
Operating for over 30 years Morningstar provides research data on more than 500,000 investments globally and serves individuals, financial advisers, asset manager, retirement plan sponsors and providers. Morningstar operates in 27 countries.
1. 19 percent of Australians say is extremely important, 28 percent say it is very important, 30 percent say it is moderately important and 15 per cent say it is slightly important. Nine percent say sustainable investing is not at all important to them.
3. From the Stockholder to the Stakeholder, How sustainability can drive financial outperformance, Oxford University study, March 2015.
Information is current as at 24/2/2017.