Australian christian fund wins impact investment prize

An Australian small pension fund has received global recognition for encouraging leading institutional investors toward impact investing.

Christian Super, a leading Christian Industry investment fund for ethically sustainable projects, was announced as the winner of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment honors at the GSG Impact Summit 2017 in Chicago.

The industry fund manages $1.3 billion on behalf of 25,000 members and has been growing steadily since 1984.

Their aim is to apply its member's values into their investment portfolio – contributing mostly to projects that are committed to human and environmental care. The results are a diversified portfolio including everything from renewables to education in both Australia and developing economies.

Unlike other pension funds, Christian Super does not integrate publicly listed assets into its impact portfolio.
The fund was named Asset Owner of the Year in recognition of its commitment to social impact; including the allocation of 10 per cent of its assets to impact investing, as well as screening all investments for environmental, social and governance, or ESG, risk.

The chair of the Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing, Rosemary Addis, said “reflecting the leadership from Australia, Christian Super’s award for Asset Owner of the Year is well deserved.”

“Their pioneering approach is recognised in the context of goals now set to mobilise significant amounts of capital for impact by 2020.”

This was the fourth annual gathering of global leaders in the impact investing community including 530 participants from 47 countries, who are working to bring the market to a tipping point by 2020. Addis praised the summit for being a “force for innovation and better outcomes in how we tackle social issues”.

“The focus on steering the global impact investing market to tipping point by 2020 reflects the rapid development since the G8 Taskforce was launched in 2013.

“It’s successor, the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment has grown from the G7 plus Australia and the EU to 16 countries with the admission of Finland, Argentina and Uruguay at the Summit. Eleven more countries from South Africa to Bangladesh, China to Peru, South Korea to Columbia and Central and Eastern Europe are developing national advisory boards and national strategies with a view to joining the global effort.

“The global group has set ambitious, but achievable targets for 2020 that include delivering impact with and for billions of people and for the planet and reaching over US$300 billion [A$390 billion] invested for impact by 2020.

“Achieving these goals will require boldness and commitment to action by all actors in the market.”
Also at the summit were various Australian representatives from across the banking and investment sectors, as well as from the Australian government.

Christian Super is currently in the process of spinning out its expert impact team into a new company, Brightlight Impact Advisory, to help more institutional investors access their expertise.

“We are often challenged with questions as to whether it’s actually possible as a fiduciary to build a viable impact portfolio, but I think that our 10 year track record is sufficient to dispel that myth,” chief investment officer of Christian Super Tim MacReady said. “We get questions as to how much impact we’re actually having, but again we can demonstrate outputs and outcomes to dispel this.”

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