KiwiSaver Linked to Military Weapons
Amy Hamilton Chadwick finds you might be surprised to see just where your money is invested.
20 June 2023
Where do you draw the line when it comes to investing? Are you happy for your money to be invested in businesses that make or sell weapons? Maybe not. How do you feel about companies that conduct animal testing or export live animals? Not great, perhaps. What about gambling, tobacco, pornography and alcohol? Fossil fuels? Palm oil? Deforestation?
Everyone has their own idea of what’s acceptable and what isn’t. You might be surprised to see where your money is invested, with many of the country’s best-known KiwiSaver funds still 10 per cent or more invested in organisations that might give you pause for thought.
You can visit Mindful Money’s online tool to see how your fund is invested; it’s a free service provided by an independent charity. If you’re not happy with your fund’s asset allocation, it will also help you choose a fund that excludes issues that concern you the most.
If you’re in a growth fund, it’s far more likely to be connected to concerning areas of investment. New Zealand’s big four banks (ANZ, ABS, BNZ and Westpac) each have a growth fund, and all four are at least 10 per cent invested in areas of concern, and up to 17 per cent. All four have at least some investment in weapons, plus a chunk in businesses trading in fossil fuels, and a chunk in organisations associated with animal cruelty.
Growth funds aim to take a little more risk than conservative or balanced funds, so they achieve higher returns. This means they typically have more of your money invested in equities (shares), and less in cash and bonds. As a result, they invest in a wider range of businesses and are exposed to more potential areas of concern.
You can see that reflected in the conservative funds of our big four banks, where only 3 per cent to 7 per cent of funds are invested in areas of concern. Balanced funds, as you might imagine, sit in the middle, at 8 per cent to 12 per cent.
88 funds support Myanmar military
Earlier this year, Mindful Money researched which KiwiSaver funds were invested in companies that support the Myanmar military. The research identified 88 KiwiSaver funds and 95 retail investment funds, with total investments of $8.5 million. The funds have all been asked to divest themselves of these investments.
“The Myanmar military is committing atrocities against its people,” said Barry Coates, CE. “We need our government and the finance sector to stop supporting the Myanmar military and instead to join the international movement to press for the resumption of democracy.”
As of late 2022, there was also $2780 million in KiwiSaver funds (and $163 million in retail funds) invested in companies involved in manufacturing weapons, including nuclear weapons.
Vote With Your Funds
There are some KiwiSaver funds that scrupulously avoid investing in unethical areas of commerce. These are identified in the Mindful KiwiSaver Funds list, which includes a range of fund types including growth and even aggressive funds.
By voting with your dollars, you’re supporting businesses that operate ethically and responsibly, and preventing your money from funding war and ethical violations.
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