This amiable pursuit of a shared interest – long-term returns – among the investors was possible because they were not corporate rivals, Sicilia said. “Why is it that HOSTPLUS, AustralianSuper, REST and HESTA can get together and invest? We’re doing it for our members. There are not the same competitive forces that exist among corporate funds managers.” Sicilia said that no agreements, such as memoranda of understanding, had been signed among funds that have discussed opportunities. “We just need each other. Otherwise it’s divide and conquer, and we lose.” He said the growth rates in frontier markets could surpass those recorded in the past as knowledge and technology became increasingly globalised. “It took the US 200 or so years to get where it is, and China might get there in 30 years, and Vietnam less. One shouldn’t underestimate the exponential rise of that curve.”
While super funds are enacting greater disclosures and driving change around climate risk, some investment managers are still dragging the chain, according to activist lawyer David Barnden.
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Responsible investing is not about divesting companies with poor ESG ratings according to Mercer’s Kylie Willment, it’s about engaging for change and intervening by using shareholder votes if necessary.
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