How Future Super are changing the way we see superannuation
Imagine a prosperous future, free from climate change and inequality.
That’s why Future Super exists. Their purpose is to create that future. A fairer, brighter, renewable energy powered future.
As a superannuation or ‘super’ fund, Future Super – like its competitors – aims to deliver to Australians, money for their retirement. If you’re not Australian and you’re wondering what superannuation is, it’s a compulsory government scheme to help Australians save for retirement. Contributions are made by your employer over your working life, which you are only able to access when you retire.
Superannuation funds invest this money over the long term to achieve gains. Ultimately, they are responsible for providing future income for their members in retirement.
And right there we have an implicit contradiction.
Most super funds invest in fossil fuels as well as other harmful industries as part of their portfolio. These include tobacco, offshore detention, nuclear and uranium, live animal export and animal cruelty, armaments and militarism, slave labour, gambling and pokies, and old growth logging.
In contrast, Future Super sees investing as an opportunity cost. They say...
For every dollar in fossil fuels and other harmful industries, you miss a chance to invest in infrastructure and technology of the future. We don’t just invest responsibly and sustainably — we invest for impact. Today, we build funds with zero exposure to fossil fuels, negative carbon footprints and direct investments in clean energy projects.
Through Future Super we learn that our super has the power to combat climate change.
They invite us to give fossil fuels the flick.
SWITCH YOUR SUPER. SHAKE THE SYSTEM.
Your super has the power to combat climate change. Let’s put it to work.
According to their website, each time just 34 people switch, that’s another million dollars out of super exposed the fossil fuel industry.
They go on to share that just 7.7 per cent of super could fund Australia’s transition to 100 per cent clean energy.
Does that boggle your mind? Yes, me too. It also makes me more determined to do something about my own super. (A meeting with my financial adviser is lined up).
Here are some actions Future Super have taken recently that are driven by their purpose
Not Business As Usual Movement
On 20th September 2019, students around the world came together for a day of action, to join the #GlobalClimateStrike. Led by Greta Thunberg, school students turned out in huge numbers to demand change.
In Australia, in the lead up to the protest day, Future Super wanted to show that climate change wasn’t a problem kids should face on their own. And so was born “Not Business As Usual”, an alliance of companies publicly pledging to allow their employees to protest on 20th September, without fear of retribution. An opportunity to build a movement of businesses who stood in solidarity with the students during the Global Climate Strike. Initiated by and led by Future Super.
Businesses across Australia and New Zealand signed up in their thousands, opting to commit to allow their employees to take a long lunch, hold a day without meetings or shut up shop for the day, so that employees could join the protest.
By the day of the protest, around 3,500 businesses had pledged to be part of the alliance, both large businesses and small, including Atlassian, Ben & Jerry’s, Bank Australia, KeepCup, Intrepid Travel, Sendle and yours truly, my business, The Cause Effect.
In May 2021, Future Super collaborated with technology company Canva to invite Australians to write a letter either to the Prime Minister or to their local MP.
702 people joined the campaign, each writing a letter using templates provided by Canva. From there, the organisers committed to print the letters, moderating each one, then sending the letters to the Prime Minister’s Office by July 2nd 2021.
In case you’re wondering, the environmental impact of this activity was factored in. All materials were made from 100 per cent recycled paper. Sustainably sourced vegetable dyes were used in the printing process. The campaign was developed in an office powered by 100 per cent clean renewable energy. And where the organisers were unable to avoid emissions, a commitment was made to offset and validate any and all, by Climate Active.
A Bloody Good Policy
Not necessarily aligned with their purpose, but I wanted to share another initiative that Future Super recently undertook which shows they are thinking quite differently about how they operate and how they support their employees.
They have introduced a Menstrual and Menopause policy which entitles employees to six days leave per year, as well as a six day mental health leave policy.
Pandemic Support for Members
As part of the Australian Government’s JobKeeper support of business during the early stages of Covid, Future Super received $100,000.
To redistribute all of that money to support their most vulnerable members.
Note the stark contrast to a business such as Harvey Norman, furniture and electronics retailer, whose co-founder Gerry Harvey refused to pay back around $22 million they received in JobKeeper payments, despite seeing solid financial gains during the pandemic. Way to build trust, Gerry! Or not.
The traditional ethos of companies that take a short-term, self-interested view of profit will not win the long game. Earning the trust and loyalty of employees and customers is what will win that game.
Future Super is an example of a new kind of business that recognises their role in forging a better future and creating meaningful value for all stakeholders. Challenging the traditional view that superannuation should deliver the highest returns at any cost, Future Super attracts members who care about a sustainable future and are prepared to invest in it.
As we all start to experience the effects of climate change more visibly and frequently, my bet is that companies like Future Super will gain a stronger support base over time and their influence will grow.
You can have a listen to my interview with Simon Sheikh; founder of Australia’s first fossil fuel free super fund, Future Super on the For Love & Money Podcast here. This interview delivers some great insights for those interested in how to navigate their path to purpose.