BT divests from tobacco and controversial weapons, Unveils barriers to sustainable investing

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BT Financial Group announced it has expanded its divestment from tobacco and controversial weapons, after extending its ESG exclusion framework to investment mandates for internally managed investments.

This builds on BT’s commitment to remove tobacco and controversial weapons from the MySuper Lifestage funds last year as outlined in its responsible investment position statement.

These exclusions have been implemented across the majority of the funds managed internally from October 1 2018, and will be applied to the remaining portion of such funds over time. The exclusions include BT’s MySuper funds which comprise around $21 billion in assets, and other investment options comprising around $15 billion in assets.

The move comes as new research shows customers’ preference for sustainable investing, with strong demand to invest in companies that align with their values, despite some barriers that exist.

BT’s Head of Customer Governance and Sustainability, Emma Pringle said, “We’ve made the decision to divest from tobacco and controversial weapons because we are committed to championing a sustainable philosophy for BT and for our customers, and we know it matters to them.

“Further, research shows us that people really care about being sustainable however many people don’t know how to approach responsibly managed investments or understand the options available to them such as investing through super.”

According to new BT research1, one in two people (50 per cent) are personally interested in sustainable investing. And nine in ten people (90 per cent)2 believe sustainable investing is important.

This reflects the broader industry trend to responsible investing with total responsible investments in Australia representing $866 billion, or 55.5% of all assets professionally managed.3

However while the majority of people are interested in sustainable investing, the lead barriers4 are that people say they don’t have enough money to invest (30 per cent), they don’t know how to do it (26 per cent) and they have never made any changes to their super (25 per cent).

Moreover currently only one in five (20 per cent) say they have sustainable or socially responsible investments, according to BT research5.

Ms Pringle said “Perceptions around having inadequate funds to sustainably invest tell us that people may not be aware that they can make these choices in their own super fund or investments. In many cases, they don’t need additional funds to invest sustainably or responsibly. The options are already there and sustainable investing doesn’t have to be a side strategy, it can be an integrated part of an investment portfolio or approach.”

Ms Pringle said, “There is a role for companies like ours to play in educating people around how they can invest sustainability, and provide options for them to make those choices, to help them reflect their personal values through their super and investments approach, if they choose.”

BT is committed to sustainability and integrating ESG practices into its business, this includes sustainable investing. We are also committed to promoting Responsible Investment across the industry, as a founding signatory to the United Nations Tobacco-Free Finance pledge will support other companies to make the transition to a tobacco-free investments.

In an industry first, BT introduced sustainability scoring to its flagship platform, BT Panorama in 2016 allowing financial advisers and customers to see how their investments rate around key sustainability factors. The sustainability scoring is available on BT Panorama’s investment menu across over 200 managed funds and ASX200 listed companies and through BT Invest and Super Invest.


1 BT consumer research, August & September 2018, undertaken by fiftyfive5

2 BT consumer research, 2016

3 RIAA, Responsible Investment Benchmark Report, 2018 Australia

4 BT consumer research, August & September 2018, undertaken by fiftyfive5