FUNDS under management in the socially responsible investment (SRI) sector have grown by 32 per cent from $10.5 billion to $13.9 billion over the past year, according to a report released by the Ethical Investment Association (EIA).
The report found four new SRI funds joined the market in the past year to help generate the growth, with Perpetual and ING notable additions. There are now 46 ethical funds in Australia overseen by 16 different fund managers.
Though SRI funds account for only two per cent of total funds under management in Australia, EIA expects this to grow to levels seen overseas, where SRIs account for 12 per cent of the market in the US and six per cent in the UK.
EIA vice-president Simeon Michaels says growth has been driven by growing consumer awareness of the availability of ethical funds.
“As people realise they can invest in corporations that have a better social and ethical conscience and still boast comparable returns, then the road ahead for them is clear,” he says.
Of the total SRI funds under management, $1.8 billion is held in managed SRI funds, $6.7 billion in investments from religious organisations and $5 billion in employer superannuation funds. Private SRI funds, charitable trusts and community finance investments make up the remainder.
There are currently 28 individual advisers in Australia who specialise in the ethical investment market, though there is a growing number of mainstream financial advisers who will service demand for ethical products should clients express interest, the EIA report says.