Australian Ethical has made several new appointments to strengthen its adviser sales, distribution and investment teams.
Keenan Bunning (formerly of Perpetual) and Jeannie Bredberg (formerly of Blackrock) were appointed as senior managers – adviser relationships, and Sara Wakefield (formerly of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia) was appointed as a B2B marketing manager.
Mike Murray had been promoted to head of domestic equities and would be responsible for overseeing the active equities team and processes.
The appointments come as the firm said it had experienced “booming demand” in those channels as it eclipsed $5 billion in funds under management (FUM).
John McMurdo, Australian Ethical chief executive, said he attributed this demand to an increased number of Australians who had embraced ethical investing.
“In 2020 we witnessed a seismic shift in societal expectations whereby great investment returns were only the first stage of the assessment criteria for many investors when allocating a large proportion of their capital,” McMurdo said.
“We are seeing an accelerating movement of advisers and investors placing significantly more weight on ensuring their investments also create a better world for people, planet, and animals – on top of achieving above-market returns.”
Research sponsored by Australian Ethical had found that 86% of Australians believed it was important for their adviser asked them about their values in relation to their investments.
Nine in 10 respondents also believed it was important that their adviser provided responsible or ethical investment options.
This increased demand led the firm to launch its first separately managed account (SMA) portfolio in April 2020 which had returned 41.1% to 31 December, 2020.
The performance of its managed funds had seen a 12-month return of 21% for the Australian Shares fund and 35.1% for the Emerging Companies fund.
Managed fund performance has also been strong with 12-month returns of 21% for the Australian Shares Fund (ASF), and 35.1% for the Emerging Companies Fund (ECF) to 31 December 2020.
Leah Willis, head of distribution at Australian Ethical, said the growth of ethical investing was one of the strongest investment trends.
“We think there are two main drivers – the first is consumer demand as people seek to ensure their investments are aligned with their values; and the second is the market-leading financial outcomes that prove ethical investing can deliver better risk-adjusted returns,” Willis said.
“As a result, advisers are seeking us out because of our established reputation as Australia’s leading ethical investor.
“That’s why we’re strengthening our distribution capabilities to make sure we can help them respond to the rising demand for ethical options with quality financial advice.”