Swinburne University of Technology has completed the transition of $215 million of investment funds to Mercer, supporting the university’s responsible investment strategy.
Swinburne announced Mercer’s appointment as the university’s new investment manager in October 2016, after an extensive tender process. A key criterion in the selection of Mercer was not just investment performance, but also their ability to support Swinburne in bringing to life its Responsible Investment Charter.
Swinburne’s Chief Financial Officer, Fiona Schutt, says investing in Mercer’s Socially Responsible Australian Shares Funds is an exciting development, putting the principles of Swinburne’s Responsible Investment Charter into practice.
“Swinburne believes that a responsible approach to investing is not only a commitment to our community, but crucial to the sustainable growth of our investment funds. With this in mind, we adopted a Responsible Investment Charter to guide our investment practices. We have now taken a first step towards the achievement our goal,” Ms Schutt says.
Swinburne's investment portfolio now incorporates a stronger focus on outcomes supporting environmental, social and corporate governance.
Mercer’s Socially Responsible Global Shares and Mercer’s Socially Responsible Australian Shares Funds (collectively referred to as the Funds) restrict investment in businesses that are involved in activities that are in breach of socially responsible criteria. This includes companies that are directly involved in the development and production, sale or distribution of cluster munitions, anti-personnel mines and biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
The Funds will also avoid companies with material exposure to tobacco, alcohol, gambling or gaming, adult entertainment and thermal coal, and will target companies with innovative solutions to sustainable development.
Helga Birgden, Global Business Leader, Responsible Investment at Mercer says Swinburne has a long term, structured and robust plan.
“The university is now allocating capital to sustainability while seeking to avoid material harm. Guided by its strong policy in this area, Swinburne’s investments will help the university create and preserve long-term investment capital.”
Under the arrangement with Mercer the Australian Shares product targets a carbon intensity that is 20 per cent below the carbon footprint of the benchmark ASX 300 over three years.
It also does not invest in companies with material exposure (five per cent) of revenue or greater in the last financial year) to sectors such as tobacco production, alcohol production, gambling or gaming services, and armaments.
The International Shares product also has designated sector exclusions (based on a set of revenue exposures) including; adult entertainment, alcohol, controversial weapons/armaments, gambling, thermal coal/tar sands oil (with a materiality threshold), and tobacco.
“This is just the start and we believe we now have a partner in Mercer who is committed to helping us achieve our vision set out in the Responsible Investment Charter,” says Ms Schutt.