The Anglican Diocese of Sydney has given Mercer a socially responsible mandate across a range of its implemented consulting portfolios, resulting in a new socially responsible Australian shares fund which is available to other clients.

The Sydney Anglicans have been clients of Mercer’s implemented service for about two years, retaining some direct property and cash under its own management.

The mandate covers not only Australian shares but also international shares – hedged, unhedged and emerging markets – and listed and unlisted property and sovereign bonds.

Gary Burke, the Australian and NZ business leader for Mercer’s investment management business, said the firm currently had 12 faith-based clients and recently hosted a roundtable conference to look at issues specific to the group.

Apart from SRI and ethical concerns surrounding investments, faith-based organisations do not pay tax which may influence some investment decisions compared with super funds and other clients.

On investments, Burke said, these organisations typically wanted to avoid stocks involved in alcohol, armaments, tobacco, pornography and gambling, but different organisations had different policies.

The new socially responsible Australian share fund was designed for the Sydney Anglicans as part of its brief but is now open to other Mercer clients as part of the implemented suite.

Burke declined to reveal the size of the Anglican mandate.

Graeme Mather, the head of Mercer’s investment consulting business, said SRI advice was becoming a growth area for the firm.

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