Responsible investment’s gender gap

Women are 10% more likely than men to switch KiwiSaver providers if their funds are invested in industries they do not support, a new survey shows.

The research from Mercer found that nearly 75% of members said access to responsible investment was an important feature of the scheme.

“Investment performance is top of mind for investors across the market, however we found that a growing number of members also want their money invested responsibly and in line with their personal value. Women in particular are more likely to rate access to RI options as one of their top five important features when compared to men” said Sarah Whitelock, consumer wealth leader, Mercer New Zealand.

“Across the board we see women express significantly higher levels of concern about where their funds are invested than men. So much so that women are more likely to switch KiwiSaver providers if their funds are invested in industries they do not support, suggesting investments need to align with their beliefs. Further to that, just over one in five (22%) women are more likely to disagree that their KiwiSaver provider offers a sufficient number of RI options, which tells us there is an opportunity for providers to more clearly demonstrate and communicate their commitment to RI.”

She said the research showed that funds that were invested in a way that targeted responsible or sustainable outcomes did not come at the cost of performance.

Mercer found that KiwiSaver members were most frequently concerned about investments in weapons, pornography, gambling and tobacco. Women were 16% more concerned than men about where their funds were invested, on average. One in five women said their KiwiSaver provider did not offer a sufficient number of responsible investment options.

Women rated communication material as the most important feature of a KiwiSaver scheme, followed by investment performance, while men rated investment performance first, followed by fees.