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Aug 21, 2023

Australian Retirement Trust to double size of sustainable investment team

Pension fund plans to release interim net-zero targets later this year

One of Australia’s largest pension fund providers plans to double the size of its sustainable investment team.

Australian Retirement Trust (ART), which manages around A$240 bn ($154 bn), is recruiting for eight roles in areas such as impact investing, stewardship and ESG integration.

The superannuation fund, as pension funds are known in Australia, says the hiring spree will help it meet net-zero goals and support the growing interest in ESG issues among members.

‘As a systemic risk, if climate change is left unabated, it will impact the global economy,’ says Nicole Bradford, head of sustainable investments at ART.

‘This means that to act in members’ best financial interests and help protect their future financial well-being, funds should be considering climate change alongside other traditional financial matters throughout all aspects of the investment process.

‘What we also know is that members are becoming far more conscious of ESG issues and there is a growing demand to understand how their retirement savings are meeting sustainable objectives.’

Net-zero goals

ART has announced a net-zero target for its portfolio emissions by 2050 and says it will reveal interim targets during 2023.

The fund has a preference for engagement over exclusion when issues arise. It engages directly with companies and also via the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, which collectively owns around 10 percent of every ASX 200 company.

In March, Market Forces, a climate change activist organization, accused Australia’s largest pension funds of not living up to their commitments on climate change and putting themselves at risk of legal action over their targets.

At the time, an ART spokesperson told the Australian Financial Review that the fund was already engaging with several energy companies but planned to be ‘more focused in our company engagements and set objectives to track and monitor outcomes’.