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First Australasian ethical fund launched

Two more ethical funds hit the market this week. One an international share fund is being promoted by Tower Managed Funds, the second, an Australasian share fund is being rolled out by Guardian Trust Funds Management (GTFM).

Monday, March 12th 2001, 10:32PM

by Philip Macalister

Two more ethical funds hit the market this week. One an international share fund is being promoted by Tower Managed Funds, the second, an Australasian share fund is being rolled out by Guardian Trust Funds Management (GTFM).

The GTFM fund, which is being done in conjunction with ethical fund guru and financial planner Rodger Spiller, will initially be for the wholesale market.

GTFM managing director Anthony Quirk says the company already runs mandates for many charitable trusts which are interested in this kind of investment, as well as church groups.

He says a number of stocks are not permitted in some of the GTFM's existing mandates.

"In some ways we are formalising what we have already been doing."

The starting point for the fund will be GTFM's Australasian portfolio. Spiller will then provide a screening process to determine which companies satisfy the ethical goals of the new fund.

The first part of that process will be to exclude the so-called sin stocks, such as tobacco, alcohol and gambling. The next stage will be to refine the portfolio down to a group of stocks that meet other socially responsible objectives, including whether the businesses are sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Spiller's screening process is built on the work he did for his PhD in business ethics and investment.

Besides providing investors with the opportunity to invest in a portfolio of ethical or socially responsible funds, the company will be trying to encourage other New Zealand and Australian businesses to become more responsible.

Spiller hopes that the "power of the economic vote" will help companies change their ways.

Quirk says GTFM role is to provide a financial test to make sure that this is a good performing investment.

"Our aim is to achieve an annual return in excess of the NZSE40 index, with an ethical and sustainable focus," Quirk says. "We are confident of achieving that objective given GTFM’s long term out-performance of the NZSE40, combined with the expertise of Rodger Spiller & Associates."

Besides running a financial planning business Money Matters, Spiller is also an executive director of the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development and the NZ Centre for Business Ethics and Sustainable Development.

Good Returns will provide more information on Tower's fund on Wednesday.

You can read Philip's blog here: http://www.goodreturns.co.nz/blog/

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