First State Super and StatePlus will be rebranded to Aware Super, saying it is signalling a commitment to action and impact. Meanwhile VicSuper will retain its brand for now, with the funds stating it will be reviewed in the future.
First State Super chief executive Deanne Stewart said the name consolidation with StatePlus will also reduce costs associated with managing multiple brands in the market.
The recent amalgamation has seen First State Super and VicSuper become Australia’s second-largest industry fund with more than $120 billion in funds under management.
First State has also committed to doubling its investment in affordable housing for key workers including nurses, teachers, emergency services personnel, and aged and disability support workers; from $200 million to $400 million in 2020.
The apartments available to workers in Victoria as well as selected Sydney suburbs charge rent at 80 per cent of the market rate for their areas. Further investments were said to be coming.
Ms Stewart said the increased size and scale that came with the merger have placed the fund in a stronger position to create a positive impact.
“Australia’s superannuation industry is responsible for $3 trillion in retirement savings and the sector is already 50 per cent larger than our national GDP,” Ms Stewart said.
“We have a unique opportunity and responsibility to leverage our investments to have a significant and meaningful impact on our community.”
She added the change has “never been more critical” than in the current environment.
“For our economy to emerge stronger from this pandemic, we know it will require a combined effort from government and the private sector,” Ms Stewart said.
“The superannuation sector has an essential role to play. As one of the nation’s leading super funds we are stepping up to be a force for good, supporting economic growth, creating employment opportunities and doing everything we can to help build a better Australia.”
First State Super also listed other commitments with the aim to support job growth in small- to medium-sized businesses.
To date, it has contributed $200 million towards the Victorian Business Growth Fund in partnership with the Victorian government.
It also noted investments to support a transition to a low-carbon economy, including its recently declared targets for investing in renewables and new technologies.
The fund will be exiting thermal coal from October and has plans to reduce emissions in its listed equities portfolio by at least 30 per cent by 2023.
It has also promised to advocate for an economy-wide 45 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Ms Stewart said that doing the right thing by the community and delivering good returns for members were not mutually exclusive.
“Despite the recent market volatility, we have maintained our top-10 performance position and protected our member’s savings,” she said.
“We remain in a strong position and are actively looking to invest and support our economy to emerge stronger from the current crisis.
“We are also actively responding to the significant risks associated with climate change, through bold and ambitious targets and action.”
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].