Care Super has taken out the top gong for a super fund at the annual VFMC Investment Stewardship Awards, with Goldman Sachs coming first in the managers’ section and La Trobe Financial Services first in the ‘innovation’ section.

The Awards, organised by Melbourne’s Australian Centre for Financial Studies, recognize not only investment performance, but also the recipients’ commitment to social responsibility, leadership and creativity.

For instance, Care was recognized by VFMC chief executive Justin Arter for being an early signatory to the UNPRI principles as well as top-quartile investment performance and product innovation through its direct shares option and income protection insurance.

Goldman Sachs Asset Management won the main managers’ Investment Stewardship Award for performance and a process which was risk adjusted for ESG considerations.

Deborah Ralston, the Centre for Financial Studies’ director, noted that in a world where there was now an array of advisers on ESG matters, Goldman Sachs did much of this analysis itself.

La Trobe Financial Services, a Melbourne-based 60-year-old mortgage firm, was deemed to be the most innovative of a record number of entries for this year’s awards.

Ralston said that core to La Trobe’s innovation was that since 2004 the firm had in place a 12-month term for initial investment, which had kept out hot money inflow and outflow.

Greg O’Neill, managing director and principal, said the award recognized “60 years of hard work by a fantastic team”. His late father, Ray O’Neill, started the company in the La Trobe Valley in 1950.

La Trobe has recently pioneered an office in Shanghai which it hopes to use for future financing purposes. In the meantime it has initiated an education program for employees of the Chinese banks to study the Australian mortgage system. The firm has so far sponsored 35 Chinese to Australia to study.

“We anticipate that we will have considerable success there in the next five years,” O’Neill said.

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