As part of ongoing efforts to align its investments and ethical views, the $450 million Christian Super has terminated a mandate and brought 25 per cent of its fixed interest portfolio in-house, while also setting up an internal call centre.
Peter Murphy, chief executive officer of Christian Super, said the fund redeemed a mandate with BNY Mellon to manage the capital in-house so that the fund’s fixed interest portfolio reflected the Biblical and ethical values embedded in other portfolios, such as its equities allocations.
“We can have fixed interest in line with our values more than we were able to with the previous manager,” Murphy said.
To manage the internal portfolio, the fund appointed credit analyst Peter Hawkes, who reports to chief investment officer Tim Macready, in October last year. But most of the fund’s fixed interest allocation is still implemented through
Wellington, Murphy said.
In 2006, the fund began phasing out general investment options, giving prominence to the ethical options it introduced in 2001.
Across all investment universes, these principles screen out companies involved in activities perceived by the fund as negative, such as weapons manufacturing and gambling.
This principle also extends to civil institutions.
“We don’t invest in government and semi-government paper,” Murphy said.
He added that the fund had saved on management costs by bringing part of the portfolio in-house.
The fund also took responsibility of its member call centre from Australian Administration Services and established an internal service.
More than 8,000 calls have been fielded by the fund since the call centre was opened in August 2008, and judging by a survey of its membership conducted in April, the change has been positive.
“We can get closer to members and get greater visibility of what their concerns are,” Murphy said.
“We can be far more responsive; we can see the emerging trends in member concerns in the call centre as we get calls.”
The centre required the fund to invest in technology, bring on more staff and move to a bigger office.
It is currently building a systematic way of gathering member responses to the call centre, which will take the form of a sentiment index.
The centre requires a three-person team to operate and it is compulsory for each staff member to take a regular shift answering members’ calls.
“If you call between 5pm and 6pm on Monday night, you’ll get me answering,” Murphy said.