Responsible Returns

Guide to using Responsible Returns

RIAA’s definitions of themes and issues

General definitions of each product theme and issue have been developed by Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) and are provided below. Product-specific criteria and practices may vary. You can find these by referring directly to the product provider.

Themes included

  • Education – Assets and enterprises that primarily provide educational services and infrastructure
  • Green property – Assets and companies that derive majority of revenues from green property – as rated by third parties for environmental and social performance
  • Healthcare & medical products – Enterprises that conduct research and development, manufacture, sales, and/or financing of healthcare and medical products
  • Renewable energy and energy efficiency – Enterprises with involvement in the financing, production or retailing of renewable energy products and services, as well as companies involved in the development of technological solutions to climate change impacts
  • Sustainable transport – Services and infrastructure that serve to mobilise people and goods while minimising carbon and other environmental impacts
  • High scoring ESG companies – Companies that have been assigned high ESG scores by an external research provider
  • Employment and vocational training – Enterprises with business models focused on creating employment and training opportunities
  • More sustainable companies – Companies that score highly on overall environmental, social and corporate governance performance based on a product provider’s proprietary scoring methodology
  • Impact Investments – Investments made with the intention of generating positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return
  • Sustainable water – Companies, services, technologies, projects and infrastructure related to sustainable uses of water
  • Social and sustainable infrastructure – Sustainable social services and infrastructure, including affordable housing, inclusive and sustainable transport and social and community infrastructure
  • Sustainable land and agricultural management – Companies, services, technologies, projects and infrastructure related to sustainable land management and agriculture
  • Sustainable fashion and textiles/ fashion technology – Enterprises engaged in ethical and sustainable production, manufacture, re-purposing and/or distribution of fashion and textiles

Issues avoided

  • Alcohol: Direct investments in the production, distribution and/or supply of alcohol.
  • Animal Cruelty: Direct investments in the intentional and repeated behaviour that may cause physical or psychological distress in animals.
  • Armaments: Direct investments in the manufacture of controversial weapons (cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines), the manufacture of nuclear weapons and their related components or delivery systems, and/or the production, distribution, retail and supply of civilian firearms and military weapons.
  • Fossil Fuels: Direct investments in the production - exploration, extraction, processing, refinement of coal, oil, and natural gas; the ownership of proven carbon reserves; the distribution including marketing, advertising, distributing, or retailing of coal, oil or natural gas; and/or utilities that burn fossil fuels to produce electricity.
  • Gambling: Direct investments in the operators that practise “gambling in any form” as a core business model activity including wagering and electronic gaming machines (EGMs).
  • Human Rights abuses: Direct investments in the most severe violations of the basic rights of people including their civil and political rights and economic, social, and cultural rights.
  • Logging: Direct investments in the illegal harvesting, sawing and transportation of trees.
  • Pornography: Direct investments in the production of sexual representations for the purpose of trade/exchange and the explicit representation of sexual activity, broadly defined, in various forms of media.
  • Labour rights violations: May include not ensuring a safe workplace, not covering employee's injuries on the job, not paying overtime when required, paying sub-minimum wages, and misclassification of employees.
  • Nuclear power: Direct investments in the production or distribution of energy from nuclear sources (Uranium), or in broad terms, developing products or services that support the nuclear power industry.
  • Genetic engineering: Direct investments in the use of molecular biology technology to modify DNA sequence(s) in genomes, using a variety of approaches such as homologous recombination, random integration of DNA, and technology based on guided endonucleases.
  • Tobacco: Direct investments in the production of tobacco, nicotine and tobacco alternatives, and/or the growing, distribution, licensing, retailing, or supplying / packaging.

More information about the products featured on this tool

The products featured on this site have all achieved certification under the RIAA Responsible Investment Certification Program.

Important information about the Responsible Investment Certification Program

The Responsible Investment Certification Program is not designed for the purpose of providing personal financial product or investment advice. The Certification Program is designed to provide information solely on the responsible and ethical investment strategies that apply to each of the Certified investment products for information only.

The information provided by the Certification Program is not a recommendation to invest in any investment products. It does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation or investment needs all of which should be considered prior to making an investment decision. You should seek professional financial advice before making any investment decision.

Transparency & Verification

What sets these investment products aside from regular ones on the market is they all have some type of responsible or ethical strategy applied to them.

At a minimum, their issuers explain these strategies in public documents and open their offices and books to third party verifiers who check these strategies are implemented according to what you read about them publicly. You can also click through to see the underlying managers and / or stock holdings in each certified product as well as access a certified product’s recent performance results.

Stewardship & Impact

In July 2019, we lifted our requirements of certified products which we are phasing in over 18 months.

We now require that issuers have organisation-wide commitments to responsible investing and they exercise their responsibilities as stewards of your money - through engaging with companies to improve sustainability performance and voting on shareholder resolutions where possible. All certified products now need to at least ‘avoid significant harm’ and their issuers will annually report against any sustainability-based claims made by their products. This uplift in program standards is part of our passion for, and ongoing commitment to, responsible and ethical investing. Even though we’re lifting the bar, we know your convictions to doing good with your money may be higher and so we have served up our member’s certified products with a large dose of transparency and independent verification, so that you can draw your own conclusions from reliable information and choose investments that best suit your individual needs.

*Information Disclosures

While all reasonable efforts are undertaken to ensure information and links on site are current, there may be instances where information and documents are updated during the course of certification (eg. PDS, Fact Sheet). Certified product issuers are required to update this information as soon as possible on the Responsible Returns site, but there may be some extenuating circumstances impacting timeframes.

The Certification Program may also assess information provided for certification based on proposed future changes to a responsible investment process that is in-line with RIAA’s Certification Program criteria. In such instances, members are similarly required to update this information on Responsible Returns within an agreed future timeframe. Old document versions may be reflected on site until this process is finalised.

As previously noted, the categories and definitions of themes included and issues avoided on this site have been developed by RIAA. In some cases, they may only partially reflect the definitions used by the product provider. Users should always go to the product provider for the most accurate screening and exclusions criteria.