Energy Super announces fee drop

Energy Super members with an accumulation superannuation account will receive a fee decrease from 1 October 2019. The announcement follows considerable changes made to the fund’s internal operations by introducing advanced technology, transitioning to a new administrator and investing in product development.

The asset-based administration fee will be reduced by four basis points — from 0.22 per cent to 0.18 per cent.

The overall indirect costs for each investment option will reduce anywhere between 0.04 per cent and 0.12 per cent depending on the investment option chosen.

Energy Super members who have an average account balance of $161,000 will see annual fees decrease by up to $193.20 a year, with those in MySuper receiving a saving of $112.70 on the average account balance.

Energy Super CEO Robyn Petrou said she was pleased to announce the fee drop and demonstrate Energy Super’s commitment to maintaining low fees and delivering strong long-term investment performance in a highly competitive industry.

Law Council welcomes Modern Slavery Act compliance guide

The Law Council of Australia has welcomed the release of detailed reporting entity guidance measures for the Modern Slavery Act 2018, which will assist organisations with compliance.

The guidance, released by the Department of Home Affairs, further establishes Australia as a world-leader in combatting modern slavery practices.

Law Council president, Arthur Moses SC, said given the widespread global nature of modern slavery, the guidance should be a “living document”, reviewed and regularly updated to remain relevant, accessible and informative.

“Too often we are tempted to think of slavery as a relic of the past, but the truth is it’s a problem alive and well,” Moses SC said.

“The United Nations has estimated there are more than 40 million victims of modern slavery worldwide. Around 25 million are estimated to be exploited through global supply chains.

“More than half of all modern slavery victims are estimated to live in the Asia-Pacific region, where the supply chains of many large Australian businesses are concentrated. This means the risk of exposure to modern slavery is a very real and current problem for businesses.

“Modern slavery in supply chains also distorts global markets, undercuts responsible businesses, and poses significant legal and reputational risks for companies.

The Law Council believes the guidance is useful and comprehensive.

Christian Super appoints Ethical Partners funds management for Australian equities mandate

Ethical Partners has been appointed for an Australian Equities mandate by Christian Super. Ethical Partners is an Australian Equities independent boutique with funds under management of $1.6bn that specialises in ethical investing.

Christian Super CEO Ross Piper said: “We’re pleased to be working with Ethical Partners to continue to deliver solid investment returns while investing in ways that reflect the values of our members.”

Christian Super has ethically screened all of its investments since 2006.

Ethical Partners strongly believes that companies that have sensible management teams, strong cash flows, appropriate debt levels and that treat the world and people in a better way, will also do better than the broader market in the long run.

“By focusing on the companies with the best practises when it comes to knowing where their products came from, who made them and what impact they had on the planet, we believe we are lowering risk,” said Nathan Parkin, investment director of Ethical Partners.

Integrity Life launches lifetime discount offer

Australian life insurer, Integrity Life (Integrity) has launched a lifetime discount offer, a move that it says strongly aligns with the best interests of advisers and consumers. Integrity has announced an 8 per cent discount for the lifetime of a policy across its lump sum products (Life, Critical Illness and TPD). A move it says is designed to ensure sustainable pricing for its life insurance products.

Commenting on the offer, Integrity Life MD Chris Powell said, “The financial services Royal Commission highlighted that the customer’s interests must come first, and products must be appropriate to their needs. This simple principle is something that businesses such as ours are seeking to address, and to play a valuable role in the evolution of our industry towards this mindset.”

Study says innovation must be a priority for boards

According to a report by the University of Sydney Business School and The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), boards who fail to understand the importance of innovation may be constraining business growth opportunities and underestimating the impact of digital disruption.

The report, titled Driving innovation: the boardroom gap, which was prepared in partnership with AICD, says board members are too often focused on short-termism and traditional risks to their organisations.

Business School researcher, Senior Lecturer Massimo Garbuio, said it was clear that “several companies are too short-term driven, being driven primarily by shareholder needs, and there is not enough investment in R&D and Innovation when compared to OECD counterparts”.

“I was surprised to find that only three per cent of the directors said they brought science and technology experience or international experience to their board,” Dr Garbuio said. “Many may need to upskill in order to understand the impact of new technology for their companies and how to use them to compete in a global marketplace.”

Based on the outcome of his study, Dr Garbuio has recommended that board members have two strategic conversations:

“First, is a conversation about the need to truly understand customers’ needs today as well as their needs in five or ten years’ time. Second, is a conversation about resource allocation. Are we investing enough today in order to be relevant and thrive in ten years’ time?” he said.

Local Government Super identified as global leader in ESG investment

Local Government Super (LGS) has announced that it has been identified by the world’s leading independent proponent of responsible investment, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), as being in the top 10 per cent of responsible asset owners worldwide. As a result, LGS has been included in the UNPRI Leaders’ Group which was recently announced at the UNPRI conference in Paris.

The UNPRI is an international network that works to better understand the investment implications of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, and to support asset owners to incorporate these factors into their investment and ownership decisions. The UNPRI founded the Leaders’ Group to showcase ESG leadership, and to increase the accountability in respect to responsible investment standards.

First State Super investing in NSW growth

First State Super’s investment in International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) is delivering results for members and the state with ICC Sydney announcing its latest performance results.

1.4 million delegates and patrons have attended events at the venue generating A$896 million in direct expenditure for NSW.

First State Super CEO Deanne Stewart said: “Our members own 45 per cent of ICC Sydney and they can be proud of the value this investment is delivering for them and the NSW economy.

“It’s one of the reasons we’ve recently secured the naming rights to the First State Super Theatre, the 8000-seat entertainment venue at ICC Sydney. We want our members to know that their retirement savings are being put to work, earning a return for them and at the same time creating thousands of jobs and delivering value for the community.

The newly named First State Super Theatre has welcomed more than 700,000 people and hosted over 130 live entertainment events including Keith Urban, Jerry Seinfeld, Ariana Grande, Kylie Minogue, Hillary Clinton and Cher and, in December this year, Elton John.

“Our members are supporting the renewal of the Darling Harbour precinct. In addition to our investment in ICC Sydney First State Super has funded the development Darling Square, Barangaroo and the Sydney Light Rail network. The Inner West Light Rail already transports 29,000 Sydneysiders in and out of Darling Harbour and the CBD each day. The soon to be completed CBD component will carry a lot more.”

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said: “ICC Sydney is delivering for NSW. Investment partners like First State Super play a very important role supporting the development of major infrastructure projects that improve services and create jobs and prosperity for the people of New South Wales.”

A healthy workplace starts at the top

Creating a mentally healthy workplace needs to be as important for organisations as creating a physically healthy workplace, says the Heads Up website, which has been developed by Beyond Blue and supported by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance.

Heads Up calls on business leaders to make a commitment and start taking action in their workplaces. It also encourages everyone in the workplace to play their part in creating a mentally healthy working environment, take care of their own mental health, and look out for their colleagues.

Ultimately, workplace health is a leadership issue and change must start at the top. Heads Ups says organisational leaders play a critical role in driving policies and practices that promote mental health. They are able to positively influence workplace culture, management practices and the experience of employees.