We can all act with more foresight to ensure the decisions we make today have a positive impact on the world we inherit tomorrow.
Our conversation with for Future Super (for purpose Funds Manager) CEO Kirstin Hunter
Every once in a while you come across a corporate leader who really makes you sit up and pay attention. Kirstin Hunter was one such example for me. And not because of a prestigious appointment, or a meteoric rise to prominence or a stellar investor presentation. I paid attention because of bravery, action in alignment with purpose and living ones’ values.
I became aware of the organisation she is CEO of, Future Super, shortly before Kirstin came into view. Future Super stands out as a prominent advocate, if not activist, in for-purpose, impact-driven investment. Kirstin stands out for not just walking the walk, but shouting the talk of what they do and why they do what they do.
Don’t get me wrong, typically you would find me using very different language to describe my emotions around the financial services and funds management industry, but this woman, this leader and this organisation are worthy of a different set of adjectives and verbs. As such, Kirstin’s mantra is most appropriate – deeds over words.
Kirstin’s journey from lawyer to global management consultant to leading a purpose-led funds management company runs in defiance of the received wisdom of corporate careers, as does the approve the organisation she leads takes to investment – leading to a clean sweep of the highest performing funds in recent Australian industry results.
This is a powerful conversation that proves two significant points – that everyone who has any retirement savings of any kind can apply them to do good and create the world we want to see. And that this sector, one that rightly attracts more ire and criticism than praise, has an enormous opportunity to follow Kirstin and Future Super’s lead and become a major force for good. The Australian retirement investment industry is the 4th largest investment pool in the world, currently valued at over $2.7trillion AUD. Imagine the projects that could fund. The full transition to renewable energy for a start, which would require just 7.7% of total funds invested by the Australian superannuation industry.
Key out-takes from this episode;
- Financial services is not an industry that you’d typically associate with strongly purpose-orientated people – but perhaps it will be soon!
- Future Super’s performance proves that it is not only possible, but beneficial to think about both purpose and profit in investing.
- This success is not just about the positive return to members from the funds managed, it’s about inspiring positive change in the industry to compound a greater force for good.
- Let’s put that into context. Research cited by Kirstin indicates that to fully transition Australia to renewable energy would require the investment of just 7.7% of the funds currently invested by Australian retirement funds.
- The received wisdom in the investment industry in Australia is that you can’t generate consistent member returns without investing in fossil fuels. Well, it turns out you can.
- In fact, during times of volatility, ethical funds have significantly out-performed conventionally invested funds.
- Being purpose orientated cannot just be marketing spin, not just the words on the wall, it must be reflected in all your interactions with all of your stakeholders.
- One of Future Super’s philosophies is that they invest by doing.
- However, let’s not scare anyone off here. You don’t have to change the way you work to lead with purpose. All of us have the opportunity to bring purpose into our daily lives.
- Anyone can ask a question of their organisation around purpose, and there’s a lot of power in that. Ask what it would mean if your organisation really meant what they say they mean. Ask who is going to judge us against what we say around purpose.
- Similarly with engagement. Engagement is meaningless if you don’t actually engage.
- Both of these elements come down to a question of bravery. Initially, are you brave enough to reimagine the world you want to see? Then, make all decisions based on progress towards the world we want to see.
- We can sit and blame the system. Or we can change the system. The system is nothing but the collection of all of our outcomes.
- Deeds not words. Show your purpose through your actions.
- Begin by asking what you control, and then changing what you can control to put you on the path towards the world you want to see.
- All of can act with more foresight to make sure the decisions we make today have a positive impact on the world we want to inherit tomorrow.
Additional resources mentioned today…
UTS report on 7.7% of Australian’s Super can enable the transition to clean energy – https://www.uts.edu.au/research-and-teaching/our-research/institute-sustainable-futures/our-research/energy-and-climate/supercharging-clean-energy
Get in touch with Kirstin via any of these points of contact;
As always, great thanks and appreciation to the team who contributed to bringing Better World Leaders to you;
To Brendan Ward for production of all audio recordings and composition and performance of original music throughout each episode.
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