The impact you are making through your investing

16 May, 2024

5 min read

Individual actions are collectively adding up

Big changes can start with small actions.
This article talks about 6 changes you can contribute to by the small action of considering where you put your KiwiSaver:

1. Reducing your carbon footprint.
2. Building community housing.
3. Positive climate outcomes through female empowerment.
4. Charitable giving resulting in impactful work.
5. Voting for positive change.
6. Private investments disrupting the norm and driving change.

We realise that at times it can feel as if our individual contribution towards positive climate action isn’t doing much. But the good news is there’s now significant evidence to suggest that collectively your KiwiSaver investment is making an impact.

Currently, Kiwis have over $104 billion invested in KiwiSaver (compared to $50B in 2018). That’s a significant amount of money that is being invested locally and globally in all sorts of companies. We're pleased to say that recent analysis by Mindful Money has revealed that over the last six months investments in companies that cause harm has reduced significantly.

People like you are part of the reason for this. You’ve joined an award winning KiwiSaver on a mission to redirect the flow of funds away from harm and into investments contributing to positive change. We’d like to thank you and share some wins you’ve helped make by picking Pathfinder.

1. Reducing your carbon footprint

Aside from travel, KiwiSaver is often the second biggest part of any individual’s carbon footprint in Aotearoa - around 2.3 tonnes a year depending on what fund you are in (according to Mindful Money). An dramatic increase in sign-ups to our KiwiSaver plans over the last year means that we have significantly reduced our collective footprint. All three of our KiwiSaver funds have less than half the carbon emissions of the ethical index we measure against.* You can read more about Pathfinder and Climate Change in our 2023 Sustainability Report.

*MSCI All Country World Index

2. Building community housing

Through our investments in Community Finance, you are helping people in vulnerable situations into safe, secure, warm and dry houses. Pathfinder helped Community Finance create a lending programme in 2018. They now have a unique financial model that is increasing community housing across the Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury regions.

Like Pathfinder in 2023, Community Finance took home the SBN’s Supreme Award for Transforming Aotearoa in 2021. Find out more about how it works in this TVNZ breakfast article.

“I shifted in when it opened 3 years ago and have a new zest for life. I feel healthy and well, having space that I take pride in, is great. No smoking, drugs or other additive habits is awesome – well except for an addition to buying shoes! I recently brought a car, have casual work and love being a positive influence supporting others here in the housing community.” Hone, (name changed).

3. Positive climate outcomes through female empowerment

We recently received a thank you from the Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) to say “Your commitment to a gender-equal world has enabled us to launch a US$100 million Orange Bond that puts 880,000 women in Asia and Africa at the front and centre of capital markets” - meaning those women can now get investment funding to start their own businesses.

Through these bonds women in underserved communities are connected to financial markets. This empowerment extends beyond individuals, benefiting society through the skills and contributions of these empowered women. For example, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that female political leaders are especially effective in creating environmental protection measures and more likely to ratify climate protective laws and treaties.

“The reason I like this bond so much is because if you can help secure stable income for the wāhine in the family then the children can go to school." John Berry, Pathfinder CEO

4. Charitable giving resulting in impactful work

We have donated over 1.3 million to charity since 2021. Please note that this did not come out of your pocket but rather our profit margin. Thanks to you choosing your charity, that charity has been able to carry out meaningful work with that donation - supporting our communities, animals and whenua/environment. Our new giving model will champion people, planet and animals in a new way.

5. Voting for positive change

Owning shares in a company gives us the right to vote alongside other shareholders. This can cover relatively mundane matters such as the reappointment of company auditors but can also include voting on some key issues. Examples include reporting on climate risks and board appointments.

We vote on company decisions for you, our members – you own the shares, we vote on your behalf on issues that we believe are critical to achieving a brighter now and a better future (as outlined in our Ethical Investing Policy).

Here at Pathfinder, we believe that voting is important for stewardship. Everyone should be voting on the companies they are investing in when they have the opportunity. We take it further by voting on proposals put forward by activists asking management to make changes regarding climate change, their supply chain or modern slavery for example. It’s not enough to set and forget, actively participating in company decisions drives change for the better good, and we believe a better result for investors long term.

Find out more on our voting in our Sustainability Report page 32

6. Private investments disrupting the norm and driving change

Our KiwiSaver Plan is invested in private companies that aim to achieve good environmental outcomes. Some recent achievements of these private companies include:

Cleantech innovator Mint Innovation received international recognition at COP28 for the work they are doing to revolutionise industries, disrupt the status quo, and set new benchmarks for decarbonisation in energy intensive industries. The company mines circuit boards saved from old computers, mobile phones, gaming consoles and washing machines reducing landfill and repurposing it.

Solar farm company Lodestone Energy has flicked the switch on at its second solar farm. As New Zealand’s largest solar installation to date and the first solar farm in New Zealand to bid into the electricity market, this is a crucial step forward in the future of renewable energy generation.

Looking forward, Pathfinder sees the day where it will have 20 or more unlisted NZ private companies in its KiwiSaver portfolio. Connecting the dots between your investments - helping to save for your future and your investments helping to save the future.

A better way forward

We’d like to thank you for your contribution towards investing in better and for telling your friends about ethical investing and the difference it can make. According to Mindful Money there’s still $8.6 billion dollars invested in issues the public want to avoid, and your preference for ethical investing is helping address this.

As one of our members Tara Satyanand says “A lot of funds are defined by what they won’t invest in. I like the fact that Pathfinder defines itself by investing in what can do good. I want to be a part of that.

We’d also like to thank Mindful money for the independent advocacy work they do. If you know of anyone that would like to check what they are investing in send them here.

Image credit: Kalei De-leon, Unsplash