Top Ethical KiwiSaver Schemes

Many KiwiSaver schemes claim to be ethical, but which offer the best returns both for your pocket and the environment? Canstar explores.

Ethical KiwiSaver is (or isn’t ) a bit of a minefield. While many schemes claim to be ethical, for example, not investing in fossil fuels or weapons, they might still plough money into booze, gambling or companies with dodgy environmental records.

Many KiwiSaver funds already negatively screen out the type of companies that give Greta Thunberg the heebie-jeebies, and adhere to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment. But that doesn’t mean they positively screen, too, by seeking out sustainable investments.

This is why if you’ve ethical concerns about where your KiwiSaver money is going, you need to thoroughly investigate your fund’s investments.

→ Related article: KiwiSaver: An Ethical Investing Guide

However, while saving the planet is an admirable goal, the whole point of KiwiSaver is saving enough for a comfortable retirement. And, fortunately, there are plenty of ethical and sustainable funds out there earning healthy returns for their members.

As we mention above, many KiwiSaver schemes invest ethically, but don’t label their funds as such. And for this round-up of the current top-earning funds, we’ve only included KiwiSaver providers that specifically promote their ethical or sustainable credentials.

As you can see, there is a wide choice of funds with different risk profiles that have earned double-digit returns over the past 12 months. Please note, all figures are from the latest Disclose Register KiwiSaver Fund Update (30/08/21).

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Top Performing Ethical & Sustainable KiwiSaver Funds

1) SUSTAINABLE INTERNATIONAL SHARE FUND | (ANZ) ONEANSWER KIWISAVER SCHEME

Invests mainly in equities in companies pursuing a sustainable development policy and combining respect for social principles (such as human rights, non-discrimination and the issue of child labour) and environmental principles.

Past year return net charges and tax: 29.52%


2) PATHFINDER GROWTH FUND | PATHFINDER KIWISAVER PLAN

The Pathfinder KiwiSaver Growth Fund has been designated a Certified Responsible Investment by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA). Invests in companies with high environmental, social and governance metrics. Excludes companies in industries or activities that are harmful to the planet and its people.

Past year return net charges and tax: 28.3%


3) SUSTAINABLE PLUS SHARES FUND | MERCER KIWISAVER SCHEME

Investments are managed in a way that is sustainable for the environment and society. Mercer actively invests in companies involved in providing solutions to the world’s sustainability challenges, such as renewable energy, water infrastructure and pollution control. Excludes investments involving gambling, tobacco, alcohol, armaments, pornography and fossil fuel extraction.

Past year return net charges and tax: 26.33%


4) SUSTAINABLE PLUS HIGH GROWTH FUND | MERCER KIWISAVER SCHEME

Investments are managed in a way that is sustainable for the environment and society. Mercer actively invests in companies involved in providing solutions to the world’s sustainability challenges, such as renewable energy, water infrastructure and pollution control. Excludes investments involving gambling, tobacco, alcohol, armaments, pornography and fossil fuel extraction.

Past year return net charges and tax: 23.61%


5) SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT HIGH GROWTH FUND | BOOSTER KIWISAVER SCHEME

The Socially Responsible Investment High Growth Fund is certified by the RIAA. It uses in-depth analysis and environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors to help assess socially responsible investment opportunities. It avoids investing in fossil fuels, nuclear power, weapons, alcohol, gambling and genetically modified organisms.

Past year return net charges and tax: 21.39%


6) ETHICA FUND | SUPERLIFE KIWISAVER SCHEME

A socially responsible balanced fund that excludes assets that do not meet the fund’s defined ethical investment standards. Has the highest level of ESG factors in its investment approach. The Ethica fund excludes investments where a material part of revenue and/or activities are in the areas of gambling, tobacco, alcohol, armaments, pornography and fossil fuel extraction.

Past year return net charges and tax: 20.29%


7) SUSTAINABLE PLUS GROWTH FUND | MERCER KIWISAVER SCHEME

Investments are managed in a way that is sustainable for the environment and society. Mercer actively invests in companies involved in providing solutions to the world’s sustainability challenges, such as renewable energy, water infrastructure and pollution control. Excludes investments involving gambling, tobacco, alcohol, armaments, pornography and fossil fuel extraction.

Past year return net charges and tax: 19.51%


8) POSITIVE IMPACT FUND | ASB KIWISAVER SCHEME

The Positive Impact Fund focuses on investing in companies that are addressing the world’s social and environmental issues. Excludes companies associated with weapons, anti-personal mines, cluster munitions and tobacco. Also excluded are companies that derive revenues from thermal coal and oil sands extraction that are not compliant with the United Nations’ Global Compact (UNGC) principles.

Past year return net charges and tax: 19.06%


(9) AMP ETHICAL BALANCED FUND | AMP KIWISAVER SCHEME

The AMP Ethical Balanced Fund puts sustainability at its core. Excludes investing in companies involved in controversial activities, and tilts towards investing in companies that do a better job of managing ESG issues. Excludes investments involving palm oil, tobacco, alcohol, armaments, whale products and fossil fuel production. Plus companies that breach the UN Global Compact principles on human rights, labour, anti-corruption and the environment.

Past year return net charges and tax: 17.92%


10) SUSTAINABLE PLUS BALANCED FUND | MERCER KIWISAVER SCHEME

Investments are managed in a way that is sustainable for the environment and society. Mercer actively invests in companies involved in providing solutions to the world’s sustainability challenges, such as renewable energy, water infrastructure and pollution control. Excludes investments involving gambling, tobacco, alcohol, armaments, pornography and fossil fuel extraction.

Past year return net charges and tax: 14.04%


11) QUAYSTREET SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT FUND | QUAYSTREET KIWISAVER SCHEME

The guiding philosophy of the fund is to endeavour to have a diversified portfolio of investments that are considered to be environmentally and socially sustainable. Excludes investments involving gambling, tobacco, alcohol, armaments, pornography and fossil fuel extraction, and favours investing in companies that do a better job of managing ESG issues.

Past year return net charges and tax: 11.34%


Compare KiwiSaver Providers with Canstar

If you’re comparing superannuation funds, the comparison table below displays some of the products currently available on Canstar’s database for a KiwiSaver member with a balance of $50,000 in a Growth fund, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by company name (alphabetical) some may have links to providers’ websites. Use Canstar’s superannuation comparison selector to view a wider range of super funds. Canstar may earn a fee for referrals.

To read more about our latest KiwiSaver Scheme Provider Award click this link. Or to compare KiwiSaver providers, click on the button below.

Compare KiwiSaver providers for free with Canstar!


About the author of this page

Bruce PitchersThis report was written by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce began his career writing about pop culture, and spent a decade in sports journalism. More recently, he’s applied his editing and writing skills to the world of finance and property. Prior to Canstar, he worked as a freelancer, including for The Australian Financial Review, the NZ Financial Markets Authority, and for real estate companies on both sides of the Tasman.


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