REST launches socially responsible fund

Industry superannuation fund, REST has launched its socially responsible investment (SRI) fund Sustainable Growth that will have 75% growth and 25% defensive assets.  

The fund will have a total estimated investment cost of 0.36% per annum and will invest in Australian and overseas shares, property, infrastructure, bonds, and cash. 

REST chief executive, Vicki Doyle, said: "By speaking to our members first, we gauged the importance to them of having an SRI option available, and then gave them an active role in shaping the name, inclusions and exclusions of this new option. We got a sense of their priorities, and could see that for many REST members, ethical investing is of significant importance”. 

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The fund would exclude firms that were involved in labour and human rights abuses, unethical supply chains, fossil fuels, animal cruelty, gender discrimination, tobacco, gambling, palm oil, controversial weaponry, or have a recent track record of environmental damage, or excessive executive remuneration. 

It would be positively tiled towards companies that were demonstrated leaders and promote environmental sustainability and resource efficiency, equitable societies and respect for human rights, and accountable governance and transparency. 

Property assets would need a GRESB Real Estate Assessment score of average or above, and would invest in infrastructure assets that had integrated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, and had been identified as able to help the transition to a low carbon economy, or had limited exposure to climate-related transition risk. 

For infrastructure assets, the fund excluded investing in firms that owned fossil fuel reserves, derive revenue from oil or gas exploration, production and related activities, have power generated from thermal coal, oil and gas, or lease, mine or process coal and coke. 

REST said when it surveyed members in December, 2020, over three-quarters of respondents expressed a moderate to strong interest in an SRI option. Members also expressed their key inclusions and exclusions. 

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