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Vanguards of Ethical Investing

Bringing Experts Together
4 min read
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Our Award-Winning Ethical Offering

Alvarium’s ethical offering, Pathfinder, took out the Supreme Award at the 21st Sustainable Business Network Awards last month. These awards recognise New Zealanders working towards a sustainable future through innovation to address climate change, rebuilding resilient natural systems, reducing waste and building greener supply chains.

Pathfinder won three awards on the night including the supreme Transforming Aotearoa New Zealand Award – the first time a company or person has pulled off a triple win. Other awards included the Sustainability Superstar Award, awarded to CEO, John Berry and the Communicating for Impact Award.

Pathfinder was also named 22nd in the Deloitte Fast 50 Index on the same night.

Alvarium prides itself on providing preeminent opportunities to our clients, across a range of wealth growth and management options, from real estate to advice and private markets. This is exactly why we acquired Pathfinder in 2018 and have since supported it to develop its industry leading ethically invested KiwiSaver; so, we can provide our clients with a best-in-class ethical offering.
Many fund managers use the word ethical, but few go as far as Pathfinder does in integrating a truly ethical approach (defined by principles, governed by a bespoke ethical investing policy, and monitored by an Ethics and Investment Committee) to ensure their portfolios are high-performing, and actively invested in better.

What does it mean to be ethical?

Sustainable, Responsible, Green, ESG, Ethical.
All these terms relate, to varying degrees, to a practice of investing that uses a wider lens than pure profit. Having moved out of the fringes in recent years, according to the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA) the value of this market was $40 billion in 2022 – nearly double what it was the year before & with significant increase in growth expected to continue.[1]

ESG was an early step in this process, but critics of fund managers who only use ESG metrics as a stand in for deeper ethical standards claim that caring about environmental, social and governance metrics still doesn’t make a company ‘good’. In fact, the high-ESG-scoring British American Tobacco is a case-in-point: you can be great to the wider world and run a tight ship, but that ship might still be selling an addictive and harmful substance.

Our ethical offering, Pathfinder, is at the forefront of this investment approach – claiming the title ‘Best Ethical KiwiSaver Fund Provider’ three years in a row from the charitable research website Mindful Money (dedicated to providing transparency to NZ investors on what industries their money is funding). While also being awarded for the strength of its returns by ResearchIP in 2022.
Which supports the perspective of Dean Hegarty, RIAA’s Executive Manager of Membership and Engagement, when he says “...the trade-off between strong long-term financial returns and investing ethically and responsibly is a myth that is being left in the dust."

A look at Pathfinder

Pathfinder has over $600 million under management, invested ethically, between their 6 Managed Funds and a highly awarded KiwiSaver Plan.

Four of the managed funds invest solely in listed shares – the Global Water Fund, Global Responsibility Fund, Ethical Trans-Tasman Fund and Global Property Fund. The Green Bond Fund invests only in fixed income securities aimed at generating green impact. Things like clean transportation, clean water access, increasing resilience to extreme weather events and renewable energy supply networks. This fund won Mindful Money’s award for Best New Ethical Fund in 2023.

The Global Water Fund launched in 2010 and has been running now for 13 years.  The investment drivers relevant when it launched – namely feeding the world’s population, climate change and water infrastructure building and replacement, are as relevant today as they were then.  It was the first sustainably-themed fund launched by Pathfinder and remains popular with investors after offering strong since inception returns.

If you’re interested in ethical investing, connect with one of our advisers to discuss how Pathfinder could help you grow personal wealth and collective wellbeing.

About the Sustainable Business Network awards:

Transforming Aotearoa New Zealand Award

This award is selected from all 73 finalists. It’s presented to an organisation that is performing outstandingly well in all aspects of sustainability. The Judges said “To win the Supreme Award, all the elements must come together: the vision for a sustainable future, dedication to ethical practice, and products that offer a far better alternative to the status quo. Then there’s the X factor: impact. Pathfinder Asset Management delivers on all fronts. It has its own house in order and offers compelling products that are both financially competitive and meet the highest ethical standards.

But it’s the impact that really gives Pathfinder the edge. Under John Berry’s leadership, Pathfinder has been a tireless champion of ethical investing and convinced cynical investors to redirect many millions of dollars into companies that make a positive difference. Pathfinder's success couldn’t have happened at a more critical moment - when sustainability is under threat from greenwashing and governments under pressure to cut corners. Pathfinder is demonstrating that 'people, planet and profit' is not just a good idea, it’s the most credible plan for business, citizens and Aotearoa. Congratulations from all the judges”.

Sustainability Superstar Award:

Pathfinder CEO and co-founder John Berry, won the Sustainability Superstar award. Presented to a person who has gone above and beyond to bring about sustainability change in Aotearoa, progressing social and/or environmental action, either within their organisation or in the wider community.

The Judges said “John's determination and appetite for risk is founded on a belief that the market would eventually reward his core commitment: that money can be used as a weapon for punishing bad actors and reward the good. It's that commitment and pure grit that has led to his outsized impact and makes him a sustainability superstar. John has been a leader in growing the ethical investing movement through Pathfinder and more broadly. Others have followed, building on Pathfinder's record of pushing the boundaries while earning high financial returns for clients. He is also generous with his time and advice, building public awareness and contributing to the wider community."

Communicating for Impact Award

This award was presented to an organisation that is communicating sustainability through effective use of communication channels and audiences to make a tangible impact. Judges said “Pathfinder's campaign continues its determined and deliberate effort to make an impact on investing and the footprint of global businesses. Thoughtful, clever, and authentic, it used the right messages to the right audiences in the right channels to create a coherent and compelling campaign.

To read more about the night – visit this link.