Actions we take today should not compromise the outcomes received by investors tomorrow.

We recognise that we must be increasingly mindful of the footprint our investments make in markets, communities and on the environment.

We believe that poor management of long term environmental, social and governance (ESG) related risks by a company not only impact our investments but can potentially harm the broader community and environment as well.

We require management to be focused on long-term and sustainable value creation.

Our approach to responsible investing

As stewards of our members’ retirement savings, we have a duty to act in their best interests and to protect and grow the real value of their assets.

A critical part of this is a responsibility to monitor and engage with companies in which we invest, directly and through the fund managers we appoint. This is more than just voting. Activities may include monitoring and engaging with companies on matters such as strategy, performance, risk, and capital structure.

Perhaps most importantly, we have an obligation to ensure that the companies we invest in on behalf of members are governed in a way which will enhance their performance over the longer term. 

We believe that good governance is essential to being able to generate the best financial outcome for members. We generally support boards that have a majority of independent directors and that contain a diverse set of experience and skills appropriate to the business.

Additionally, we take an interest in the environmental and social practices of the listed companies in which we invest.  We believe companies that take a sustainable approach to the environment and to the community, including their own workforce, will perform better over the long term.

Responsible investment policy statement

Read now

How we're investing in Australia's future

Responsible Investment describes an investment process that incorporates an active consideration of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors (also referred to as sustainability considerations) within investment decision making and ownership practices.

It's driven by the growing recognition among investors that responsible corporate behaviour can have a positive influence on the financial performance of companies, particularly over the long term.

It follows that investors who are aware of ESG-related factors that affect investment performance are better placed to manage risk and generate value.

ESG/sustainability refers to a range of factors associated with the long-term financial performance of companies, including:

  • Corporate structures that reduce agency risk (corporate governance); and
  • Appropriate oversight and management of risks that may result in costs or constraints on the company’s operations, and opportunities associated with superior management of these risks (environmental and social)

ESG/sustainability factors range from board skills and independence to vulnerability with respect to carbon costs or regulatory constraints, human capital management practices and stakeholder relations.

We have committed to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), a universal framework to help investors learn from each other and be a collective voice on ESG issues. 

The Principles include incorporating ESG issues into investment analysis, decision-making, policies and practices.

The Principles are set out below:

  1. Incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  2. Be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
  3. Seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
  4. Promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
  5. Work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  6. Report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.

We’ve also joined some initiatives that we believe can deliver on our ESG promise:

  • Carbon Disclosure Project - a global initiative aimed at requiring the largest companies to disclose information on their greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Water Disclosure Project – helping businesses and investors understand the risks and opportunities associated with water-related issues around the world.

  • ESG Research Australia – encouraging better investment decisions through investment research.

  • Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) – Australian and New Zealand collaboration on the impact of climate change on the financial value of investments.

Climate change and environmental issues pose both risks and opportunities for the long-term performance of our members’ investments.

We are working with our external fund managers, and with the listed companies in which we invest, to address these impacts.  Our Climate Change Adaptation Plan outlines how we will do this by:

  • weather-proofing our investment portfolio by assessing asset specific climate change risks and looking at options to build resilience;
  • engaging with corporate boards and senior executives to proactively assess and manage climate change risk; and
  • finally, by seeking new investment in renewable energy assets and other sectors that benefit from climate change adaptation.

We anticipate that this approach will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, attributable to our portfolio holdings, of 30% by 2020 and 50% by 2030.

Our approach to climate change has received international recognition via the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) which has ranked First State Super with a AAA rating and the third highest rating globally.

In addition to being a signatory to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment, we are signatories to the recent Climate Action 100+, which was launched recently at the One Planet Summit in Paris.  This program seeks to engage the world’s largest green-house gas emitting companies on climate action.

If you want to know more, you can read our full Climate Change Position Statement as well as a report we published in May 2016 setting out our Climate Change Adaption Plan

View our proxy voting policy and voting summary for Australian shares and International shares.

An important part of investing responsibly is engaging with the companies we invest in so that they understand who we are and what is in our members’ best interests.

As part of this engagement, we communicate with companies to achieve improvements in corporate governance or address under-performance in areas like environmental or social outcomes.

Engagement also includes communication with government regulators to improve the standards that apply to all companies – for instance in taxation law, and the law affecting directors’ duties and financial reporting.

Our engagement program works on several levels. We:

  • engage directly with the companies and with fund managers
  • participate in collaborative initiatives with other institutional investors, and
  • work in conjunctioon with a specialist corporate engagement firm ACSI - Australian Council of Superannuation Investors. ACSI engages with major listed companies on ESG issues; provides research, policy and voting advice and interacts with the regulators to ensure markets are focused on the long-term benefits of investors. Refer to ACSI's website for more information.