Divestments

Vision Super only divests from products where we don’t believe engagement can reduce harm, or where we believe there is a long-term risk to our members’ money.

Vision Super only divests from products where we don’t believe engagement can reduce harm, or where we believe there is a long-term risk to our members’ money. In general, we believe corporate engagement is more effective in improving the way companies operate, reducing the environmental impact and increasing transparency. Vision Super is currently divested from:

Divestment illustration

1

Controversial weapons

Controversial weapons are ones that can have a severe impact on civilians, and are generally banned under international treaties. Land mines, cluster bombs and nuclear weapons are deemed to be particularly controversial because of their indiscriminate impacts on civilians and the disproportionate harm they cause in the case of land mines for many years after a conflict has ended.

Despite being widely considered to be controversial and often prohibited by international treaties, these weapons are still produced in some parts of the world. Vision Super avoids investing in any companies directly involved in the production or sale of these controversial weapons. We do not believe their harm can be reduced through engagement. 

2

Tobacco

According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco kills more than 8 million people every year globally and costs society an estimated USD $1.4 trillion annually in medical expenses. And according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), about 108 million children, or 70% of the children involved in child labour, are working in the agriculture sector, many of which are believed to be involved in the production of tobacco. Tobacco also directly harms workers – people involved in the harvesting of tobacco leaves are prone to acute nicotine poisoning, as they absorb nicotine through their skin while handling tobacco plants. This is particularly serious for children, who because of their smaller size are more at risk.

The deadly nature of this product and the human rights abuses common in this industry lead us to believe that the future profitability of tobacco faces material legislative, regulatory, and litigation risks. Tobacco also causes immense human suffering. That is why Vision Super has divested from tobacco and signed up to the tobacco free finance pledge. Taking the pledge has allowed Vision Super to become “verified tobacco free”, reinforcing our position as a values-based, superannuation fund.

For more information on the tobacco free finance pledge , visit  Tobacco free finance signatories

3

Tar/oil sands ​

Tar/oil sands are a combination of water, clay, sand and bitumen, which is a heavy, thick black oil. Tar sands can be mined to extract the oil-rich bitumen, which is then refined into oil. Tar sand deposits are mined because the bitumen in tar sands cannot be pumped from the ground in its natural state. Extracting tar/oil sands and converting it into a usable fuel is energy and water intensive. The process also creates toxic air, waste and water pollution.

Mining tar sands also generates a lot of dangerous carbon pollution because it is energy-intensive. The greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands extraction and processing are significantly larger than for conventional crude oil. Tar/oil sands mining encroaches on Indigenous lands and contaminates the environment and wildlife these communities depend on for their culture and way of life. Vision Super does not directly invest in tar/oil sands mining because we believe the harm it causes cannot be mitigated, and because we believe regulation will eventually catch up with the damage it does and therefore it will not be a good long-term investment. Other energy sources are much more economic and do not have the damaging effects of tar/oil sands. 

4

Thermal coal

Thermal coal is black coal used for electricity generation. Of all fossil fuels, coal emits the most carbon dioxide per unit of energy. There are numerous damaging environmental impacts of coal that occur through its mining, preparation, combustion, waste storage, and transport. Coal-fired power plants generate large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, which are the principal human cause of global warming and climate change. Air pollution from coal-fired power plants also includes sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and heavy metals, which lead to smog and acid rain. We need to be able to cool our houses without turning up the thermostat on the entire planet. Like with tar sands, we do not believe there is an economic case for investment, and believe the harm burning coal to make electricity generates cannot be mitigated

Divestments framework

Vision Super has a divestment framework that the Board uses to ensure we make decisions about whether to divest from particular products in a consistent and ethical way, and that doing so is in the long-term financial interests of our members.

As part of this framework, the Board will: 

  1. Clearly define what is being proposed for exclusion
  2. Assess materiality
  3. Define why the category of assets is being proposed for divestment. This will take into account the values of the Fund and community expectations
  4. Assess the practicality of excluding these investments from the Fund
  5. Determine under what circumstances the Fund would stop excluding a category of investments? What would need to change?

In determining companies not eligible for investment:

  • The materiality threshold is set at 25% of revenues
  • A buffer zone of +/- 5% is set so that investments close to the materiality threshold do not move between eligibility and ineligibility on a frequent basis. For the avoidance of doubt, an investment classified as being ineligible would need revenues from excluded categories to fall below 20% of total revenues to be considered eligible. An investment classified as eligible would require revenues from excluded categories to increase to in excess of 30% of total revenues to be considered ineligible
  • As at 30 June 2020, all ineligible investments have been sold.
  • A cap of 2% of emerging market equities, 2% of Australian equites and 5% of developed market equities ex-Australia is set for the excluded categories of investment as a percentage of the relevant investment universe.

Restricted security list

Vision Super maintains a list of companies that we consider to be prohibited investments. The list is reviewed regularly by the Vision Super Climate Action team and Investments team. We use ESG Research Provider MSCI to identify companies that are involved in controversial weapons production and the manufacture of tobacco. Where appropriate we supplement this with our internal research and company engagement. Discretion as to whether or not to prohibit investment in companies or entities lies entirely with the Vision Super Board. The list is reviewed annually and where new companies are identified we seek to divest our holdings within the following 30 days.

The current Restricted security list is available here

The Vision Super ESG policy is available here

Read about our other sustainability initiatives here

Frequently asked questions

Cash investment options are generally a combination of money in the bank and money invested for a short time in money market securities, such as bank term deposits and bank bills.

If you are risk averse or working to a short timeframe, then a Cash option that typically provides stable, low risk returns may be suitable for you. This type of investment option will protect the value of your superannuation, but the returns will often be low compared with other investment options.

The risk associated with cash investments is generally minimal, although the returns are also minimal. Cash can be a safe haven in times of economic uncertainty, and occasionally you may wish to preserve capital by allocating some of your super to cash.

We recommend that you obtain financial advice before making any decisions about investing in our Cash option.

To book an appointment with a Vision Super financial planner, either call us or complete our online appointment form:

Go to the form to book an appointment online >

Call our Contact Centre on 1300 300 820 (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm).

Advice fees may apply, which will be discussed with you before any work is undertaken.

We don’t charge switching fees, so there is no impact on your super account balance from switching between investment options. However, if you have the right investment risk profile and your investments are matched up to your risk profile, you shouldn’t be needing to make switches regularly.

From time to time you should review your risk profile, maybe when you are first starting out in the workforce, are in the middle of your working life, a few years away from retirement and/or going into retirement. Otherwise the investments you have in superannuation should be a ‘set and forget’ strategy where you ride the ups and downs of the investments over a longer period.

You can switch investment options for some, or all, of your account balance, future contributions, or both. You can also nominate which investment option you would like your withdrawals to be made from.

You can switch between investment options by logging into our website, or the Vision Super app, or by sending us a completed Investment choice form. You can also call us, on 1300 300 820 (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm).

Investment switches are processed based on the unit prices of the relevant investment options declared on the next business day after we receive your switching request, unless there is a delay with processing due to abnormal market conditions or system failure.

Frequent switching between investment options and trying to second-guess the market can be risky, particularly for high-risk investment options designed to be held in the long-term (6-12 years). You should switch only after a thorough review of your long-term investment strategy.

We recommend that you obtain financial advice before making any decisions about switching between investment options.

To book an appointment with a Vision Super financial planner, either call us or complete our online appointment form:

Go to the form to book an appointment online >

Call our Contact Centre on 1300 300 820 (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm).

Advice fees may apply, which will be discussed with you before any work is undertaken.

Growth assets are higher risk but offer a higher potential return compared to defensive assets. They aim to grow the capital that’s invested and provide some income. Defensive assets are lower-risk investments which aim to protect the capital invested while providing an income.

The classification of assets into either growth or defensive has the advantage of simplicity, but it also has limitations when used as an indicator of risk. The classification does not capture diversification, which can have a larger impact on reducing the overall portfolio risk when assets are combined.

Another issue is that different people may have different classifications for the same asset type because there are no regulations governing this area and no clear guidance by the regulators on a standardised growth/defensive split. Classifications of growth or defensive assets may also change over time depending on market conditions and pricing.

We believe that there needs to be greater consistency and transparency in how super funds arrive at their growth/defensive mixes. But in the absence of regulations, there are going to be differences in practice and opinion. To avoid any potential misunderstandings, Vision Super does not publish the growth/defensive split of our investment options.

Compound interest is the interest that is earned on money that was previously earned as interest.

For example, if you have an investment of $100 that pays interest of 5% every year, then in the first year you will be paid interest of $5 over the year (5% of $100).

What happens in the next year? That’s where compounding comes in. You will not only earn interest on your initial $100 deposit, you will also earn interest on the $5 interest that you earned in the first year.

That means you will earn $5.25 in the second next year because your account balance is now $105, even though you didn’t make any deposits. This may not seem like much of an increase, but the effects of compounding becomes  more dramatic over long periods of time. After 30 years, your initial $100 investment would be worth $432.19, and that year you would be paid $21.61 in interest.

Each year your interest earnings will accelerate even more due to compound interest. This cycle leads to interest and account balances going up at an increasing rate, which is sometimes known as exponential growth.

Of course, if you’re borrowing money, compounding works against you. You owe interest on the money you have borrowed, and so your loan balance can then increase over time, even if you don’t borrow any more money.

Our primary objective is to maximise our members’ investment returns so that our members have more for their retirement. One of the means by which we try to achieve this objective is to instruct our underlying investment managers to incorporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations into their investment decision-making processes. We believe that this approach will help support long-term investment performance and enhance risk management.

We are a signatory and member of a range of organisations that promote responsible investing in the superannuation industry, including the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) and the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA). We are also a signatory to the Global Investor Letter to governments on Climate Action, the Paris Pledge for Action (Paris Climate Change Agreement), the Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) and a support investor of the Climate Action 100+ initiative.

The Vision Super ESG policy integrates sustainability and social responsibility into our everyday operations. We consider labour standards, environmental, social and ethical considerations, as well as key financial criteria, when selecting, retaining or realising investments of the Fund. This applies to all asset classes but tends to have more relevance to the listed equity asset classes.

We vote at meetings of our direct listed equity shareholdings according to our ESG Policy. Issues may be related to the election of directors, board structure, executive remuneration and incentive plans, and shareholder rights such as environmental and social considerations. When we have concerns about a company in relation to a proposal, we may choose not to support that proposal if it is not in the best interests of members or is contradictory to our investment beliefs and governance framework.

We have determined that we will not invest in companies that derive material revenue from the manufacture or production of controversial weapons such as land mines, cluster bombs or nuclear weapons. We will also not invest in companies that derive material revenue from the mining of thermal coal, tar sands or tobacco manufacturers. Vision Personal Investment guide 4

When searching for new (or reviewing existing) active investment managers, our due diligence includes an assessment of how environmental, social and governance risks are incorporated into the investment process. The investment managers are asked to specify the resources they have available to analyse ESG risks, including personnel and their expertise, and engagement with external research services.

We have low carbon benchmarks for our indexed listed equity investments, which represent about half our listed equities exposure.

The indexed component of our Australian equities portfolio is managed under a mandate that provides a tilt away from high carbon emitters.

The enhanced indexed component of our International equities portfolio is managed to the MSCI All Countries World ex Australia Index unhedged and calculated in Australian dollars. The portfolio is managed to materially reduce both carbon emission intensity and exposure to carbon reserves when compared to the benchmark.

In addition, our Australian small companies manager aims to reduce the portfolio carbon intensity relative to its standard model portfolio.

For our other active equity portfolios, our managers are required to consider ESG principles in their company evaluations. We ask our investment managers to include in each evaluation a reasonable estimate of the impact of phasing out fossil fuel usage, consistent with limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degree centigrade above pre-industrial global mean temperature. This follows the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment (IPCC) Report in October 2018, which revised the safe level of warming human civilisation can tolerate.

This shift to low carbon investment reinforces our commitment to sustainable investments, which has included over a decade of major investments in wind, solar and hydro power assets.

The Sustainable balanced option has a particular focus on environmental considerations, with 100% of the Australian and International equities portfolios managed to low carbon benchmarks.

For more information about our sustainable investment activities visit:

Our page detailing our approach to Sustainability >

Our page detailing how we engage in Active Ownership>

In our PDS we disclose “Investment fees and costs” and “Transaction costs” that include investment expenses relating to the investment management of Vision Super’s assets.

Investment fees and costs include investment expenses relating to the investment management of Vision Super’s assets, such as base and (in very few cases) performance-related fees paid to investment managers and advisers, management fees charged in investment vehicles, asset consulting fees, bank fees, custodian fees and internal Vision Super costs related to the management of the Fund’s assets.

Transaction costs include explicit transaction costs incurred by investment managers such as brokerage, settlement costs and stamp duty, as well as buy sell spreads charged by our investment managers or in underlying investment vehicles.

Investment and transaction fees and costs are not deducted directly from your account. Investment and transaction fees and costs are indirect fees that are deducted from the investment option unit prices and are therefore reflected in the returns allocated to your account through changes in the unit prices.

Find out the current investment fees for each option here >