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One of Uniting Financial Services’ (UFS) investment partners, Altius Asset Management, has won the prestigious Lonsec Innovation Award for the Altius Sustainable Bond Fund. The award acknowledges the way that Altius has integrated ethical and sustainability principles into the investment decision-making process and portfolio construction.

UFS Executive Director Warren Bird said that this is the first bond fund in Australia do this.

“There are a few ethical equity funds around, but this award recognises the way in which ethical investing has been taken into the fixed income asset class. To be regarded as someone who is ‘shaping the future of the industry’ is a big thing,” he said.

The fund looks at sustainability ranking factoring the environmental effects as well as ensuring human rights are protected in the investments governance.

UFS Head of Ethical Investments Matthew Moore said the Uniting Church ethical principles provided a template that was significant in establishing the Fund’s policies.

“This (template) gave a group of like-minded investors the opportunity to work together to establish a rigorous sustainable investment policy that would be aligned to the Church, but also attract other investors that were interested in an ethical sustainable bond fund,” he said.

Mr Moore also sits on the Altius Sustainability Advisory Committee.

UFS seeded the fund with its initial $30 million and assisted in constructing the fund’s policies and developing its Sustainability Advisory Committee. The Committee uses an external consultant CAER to assist in the sustainability scoring of the portfolio.

The Fund was launched in November 2014. Just short of its second birthday, the fund has outperformed its benchmark return.

“We are very pleased with the results to date, which have supported UFS in its mission of investing the Church’s funds professionally, prudently, ethically and profitably,” said Mr Bird.

Melissa Stewart