First State Super endorses stronger stewardship

First State Super has become a signatory to the Australian Asset Owner Stewardship Code – a key pillar in Australia’s framework for the responsible management of assets.

The Code was developed by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) in consultation with our members and other stakeholders. It provides principles and guidance to promote higher stewardship standards and increased accountability, consistent with global best practice. Launched in 2018, the Code will formally commence on 1 July 2019.

ACSI CEO Louise Davidson said, “By signing the code, First State Super is promoting stronger stewardship, which supports the quality and integrity of our financial markets.”

First State Super is one of Australia’s largest industry super funds, managing more than $94 billion on behalf of 760,000 members.

First State Super CEO Deanne Stewart said, “First State Super has long been a leader in our industry in actively engaging with companies to influence their behaviour on significant issues such as climate change, gender equity and diversity and governance practices to support our core purpose of delivering long-term sustainable returns for our members.

“By becoming a signatory to the Stewardship Code, we are holding ourselves to the same standards of transparency and accountability that we expect of the companies we invest in.”

“As a responsible asset owner and industry leader, our members expect nothing less.”

Stewardship requires active ownership by asset owners and asset managers over investment assets. Stewardship activities include monitoring assets and service providers, engaging with companies and holding them to account on material issues, and voting and publicly reporting on the outcomes of these activities.

Stewardship codes exist in many markets in the world, including the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, Hong Kong and South Africa. However, this is the first stewardship code to focus exclusively on the activities of Australian asset owners. The Code is open to all asset owners (including super funds, endowments and sovereign wealth funds) on a voluntary basis.

Davidson said, “Effective stewardship actively protects and enhances the long-term value of investments. Signing the Stewardship Code is an opportunity for investors to support sustainable business through the responsible management of assets.”

Along with First State Super, other signatories to the code include: AustralianSuper, CareSuper, Cbus, Christian Super, HESTA, Hostplus and VicSuper. Together, these asset owners oversee $366bn in funds under management. ACSI maintains contact details and links to signatories’ Stewardship Statements on our website and can assist asset owners wishing to become a signatory.

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