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5 steps to investing your super ethically

Decided you want to invest your retirement savings responsibly, but not sure where to start?

We've put together these basic steps to help you kick off and navigate the process of making saving your superannuation or retirement savings are being put to work to create a world you'll want to retire into.

1) Think about what kind of themes and issues you care most about

Are you more concerned about climate change, animal cruelty, human rights abuses or weapons manufacturing? Maybe you have other concerns?

Determine how important these issues are to you, and what level of 'exposure' to these industries you may be willing to accept. For example, if you’re concerned about climate change, are you willing to accept a small amount of fossil fuel investments in your superannuation fund, or do you think it’s important to fully exclude fossil fuels? (Read more about full and partial exclusions here).

2) Contact your current super fund and ask them how they invest

Many super funds have an ethical option you can elect. You’ll still need to find out if this is invested in a way that aligns with your values and interests, but this can be a good option because it doesn’t require signing up to a new fund.

HINT: ask your current fund for a list of the companies that your money is invested in. If there are any that are a red flag for you, ask them if they engage with these companies to help change their practices, and if they can report on the outcomes of these engagements.

3) Search on Responsible Returns for an ethical or responsible super option that matches your interests and values

All super options on Responsible Returns been certified by the Responsible Investment Association for meeting the highest standards of practices and being true to label (and note: we receive no commission when people find or select a provider).

For each option listed on Responsible Returns you can click through to the ‘holdings’ which are the companies they invest in.

4) Look at the whole picture, including financial returns and fees, and consider engaging a financial adviser

It goes without saying that fees and returns make up a big part of your decision when choosing a super fund. A fund’s fees are usually easily found on its Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) on the fund’s website.

Equally important are returns. Most funds will show past performance on their website.

You may want to consider engaging a financial adviser at this step (or any of the steps above) to ensure you’re making the best choice for you. Responsible and ethical investment advisers can be found at this directory.

HINT: look out for performance ‘net of fees’ to compare different funds

5) If you’ve decided to make a switch, contact your prospective new super fund

You’ve done the hard work! If you’ve decided to make a switch you’ll now need to create an account with the new super fund you have selected, which can be done by calling them, but this step can also often be completed online. You will need some personal details at hand, like your name, date of birth, address, contact details and Tax File Number.

You will also need to tell your employer you have switched; use the Superannuation standard choice form from the ATO.