There's a lot more to selecting a KiwiSaver fund than just checking past returns and fees. If your hard-earned money is invested in KiwiSaver, you need to ask the important questions to understand where and how that money is invested.
Note: The following information is taken from Pathfinder's Kiwisaver Scheme's own website, fund updates, and the product disclosure statement published in 15 July 2019.
A short summary review of the KiwiSaver provider
Updated: 7th April 2022
Reviewed by: Muhammad Lambat (Senior Financial Consultant @ National Capital)
Pathfinder KiwiSaver Scheme review
The Pathfinder KiwiSaver Scheme, formerly known as Caresaver Kiwisaver, is a boutique fund manager focused on Responsible Investment (RI) in global assets.
They offer three actively managed KiwiSaver funds, ranging from a lower-risk conservative fund to a higher-risk growth fund. Pathfinder believes in investing ethically and only invests in high ESG companies, as they are of the opinion that these types of companies are better for our planet and its people.
Its investing approach consists of actively seeking out high ESG companies and excluding companies engaged in industries or activities they believe to be harmful. The funds invest in ethically-approved cash, bonds and listed and unlisted companies. Pathfinder's exclusions consist of both regulation-based exclusions and societal and environmental harm. The provider is also carbon negative.
Pathfinder charges annual management fees in the range of 0.84%-1.29% in addition to a membership fee of $27 per annum. Pathfinder donates 20% of its management fees to a charity of its KiwiSaver members' choice.
As the funds were only launched in July 2019, there is no 5-year data for past performance.
Changes within the Pathfinder KiwiSaver Scheme
In Mar 2021, CareSaver KiwiSaver changed its name to Pathfinder KiwiSaver.
In Jun 2021, Pathfinder won the awards for Best Ethical KiwiSaver Fund Provider and Best New Ethical Fund (for its Growth Fund) at the Mindful Money Award event.
The Pathfinder funds are relatively new, so they cannot be reviewed based on fees alone. It is, however, one of the most charitable and ethical KiwiSaver funds available.
Useful news related to the Pathfinder KiwiSaver Scheme
Facts & History of the KiwiSaver provider
Pathfinder is a KiwiSaver plan actively managed by Pathfinder Asset Management. They have been managing investments ethically for nearly a decade. This KiwiSaver plan is for Kiwis who care about investing wisely for their retirement as well as their community and the planet.
Pathfinder is a boutique fund manager based in Auckland. They focus on Responsible Investment (RI) in global assets. They started investing ethically in 2010, and now manage 7 Funds. They recently launched 3 new KiwiSaver Funds.
✅ New Zealand Based Provider
Below is a link to more information about their history:
Pathfinder manages three funds under their KiwiSaver scheme, varying in levels of risk from the Cash Fund to the Shares Fund. As of March 2020, the total Assets Under Management (AUM) for Pathfinder is over $77 million.
A+ Governance and Strategy rating from the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment
The investment team, structure and their alignment with clients
John Berry - Pathfinder Asset Management - Chief Executive Officer
John is committed to making ethical investment accessible to all NZ investors.
Before co-founding Pathfinder in 2009 John worked in law firms and investment banks in Auckland, London and Sydney. He has a BCom/LLB(Hons) from Auckland University.
He’s a board member of Men’s Health Trust and a member of the government appointed Code Working Group (designing a new code of conduct for financial advice in NZ).
Paul Brownsey - Pathfinder Asset Management - Chief Investment Officer
Paul heads Pathfinder's investment team and its ethical investment processes.
Before co-founding Pathfinder in 2009, Paul had extensive experience in financial markets, having worked in Wellington, London, Singapore, and Auckland.
Paul has a BSc (Operations Research) from Canterbury University and is a member of the Investment Committee for Arthritis NZ.
Hamesh Sharma - Portfolio Manager
Hamesh has 9 years’ financial services experience. As a Portfolio Manager, he researches company finances and operations and also meets management to ask how they integrate environmental, social, and governance considerations into their business. Hamesh has a BCom (Hons)/LLB from Auckland University.
Kate Brownsey - ESG Analyst
Kate is Pathfinder's resident environmental, social, and governance (ESG) analyst. She also gives her time to causes she is passionate about, which usually have an environmental focus. Kate has a Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Science from the Auckland University of Technology.
The Pathfinder Conservative Fund is run collaboratively by Paul and Hamesh. Paul as Head of Investment has the responsibility, however, much of the work is done by both him and Hamesh. Kate (the environmental scientist) is also involved on the research side. This is overseen by their Investment Committee (which includes an independent member - Kent Fraser) which typically meets quarterly to review risk and long-term thematic views.
Pathfinder's incentives align with their goals of managing funds that contain companies that do social good. Their investment basis relies fundamentally on the UN sustainable development goals, making investment decisions that align with these and invest only in companies that operate and have policies that adhere to these guidelines.
According to MindfulMoney, they are completely aligned with these goals, with 0% of their investments being associated with companies that might violate these principles.
Below is a link for more information on their Ethical Investment incentives :
Governance & Compliance processes
All KiwiSaver Scheme Providers must ensure they meet regulatory standards and act with customer interests in mind.
KiwiSaver Scheme Managers must exercise care, diligence, and skill in the investment of scheme assets, and act in accordance with the stated investment policy and objectives. The FMA monitors that KiwiSaver Schemes are compliant with their obligations. Additionally, KiwiSaver Scheme Trustees also have a responsibility as front-line supervisors for monitoring the management and administration of these schemes.
The Supervisor and Custodian of the Scheme are the Public Trust (PT). The PT is responsible for the supervision of the Scheme and the performance of Pathfinder’s duties as manager of the Scheme. The PT is independent of Pathfinder and is regulated by the Financial Markets Authority.
A custodian plays a key role in protecting your investments. They hold your money and investments (i.e. keep custody of them) on your behalf. So they are the legal holder of your assets while you are the beneficial and ultimate owner.
A supervisor is a licensed entity independent of a KiwiSaver scheme provider that supervises the provider’s management of the scheme. KiwiSaver schemes are trusts, and (except for restricted KiwiSaver schemes) the terms of the trust deed states that the supervisor (or another custodian) must hold all contributions and investments in trust for the investors.
Below is a link for more information on the Public Trust (PT):
The Public Trust (PT):
Pathfinder's Governance Process
Pathfinder is owned and managed by Pathfinder, another investment firm involved in ESG investment. Paul and John report to Pathfinder, which is overseen by five directors (two are independent) to maintain a high standard of corporate governance and adherence to the investment policies outlined in the SIPO.
The obligations of Pathfinder as Manager of the Funds include:
The Manager will maintain an investment committee (the Pathfinder Investment Committee)
to oversee the management of the Funds.
The investment processes followed by the manager
Pathfinder's investment philosophy is built on two foundations:
Pathfinder's investment philosophy is described below.
UN Sustainable Development Goals: Aspire for their investment decisions to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Investing ethically: Companies with high environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics to perform better than low scoring companies. They also believe high ESG companies are better for our planet and its people. For these reasons, They will actively seek out high ESG companies to invest in. They will also exclude companies engaged in industries or activities They believe to be harmful. This includes companies focused on gambling, tobacco, cluster munitions, fossil fuels, factory farming, and several other categories (please see www.path.co.nz and their Ethical Investment Policy for more information on exclusions).
Climate change awareness: Companies with a lower carbon intensity will make better long-term investments. They believe they will benefit our planet and its people in a warming world.
Aware, Fair, Care: Avoid investing in companies whose business practices are inconsistent with the dignity of individuals (for example, how they treat staff, customers, and suppliers. They also avoid companies where their operations involve animal testing or very high levels of controversy.
Engagement and shareholder voting: Vote as a shareholder to encourage positive change. This means they vote on issues from their ESG perspective. With this approach, they will at times actively vote against the recommendations of a company’s management where their view conflicts with Pathfinder's ethical purpose. They will also actively promote ethical investment and encourage positive change by corporates.
The obligations of the Manager of the Funds include:
The Manager will maintain an investment committee (the Pathfinder Investment Committee) to oversee the management of the Funds and adherence to this SIPO.
Fund compliance with the SIPO is monitored on an ongoing basis. Fund performance is reported monthly. Each Fund is also reviewed at least annually.
Social and Ethical Considerations
Socially responsible investing (SRI) or Environmental, Social and Governance investing (ESG), also known as sustainable, socially conscious, “green” or ethical investing, is any investment strategy which seeks to consider both financial return and social/environmental good to bring about social change regarded as positive by society.
Basically, SRI investing is investing in companies that have a positive impact on society, based on a number of factors.
Pathfinder may exclude investments in companies that they view as doing substantial and irreparable harm to society or the environment provided the risk/ return implications of excluding such companies is not expected to lead to a significant financial detriment for clients and can be effectively managed.
Below is Pathfinder's Responsible Investing Policy that outlines the strategies used to employ ESG:
Below is a list of industries Pathfinder chooses to exclude :
Pathfinder believes ethical investors have a responsibility to use their ownership rights to influence corporate behavior and promote change. This starts with voting at company meetings in a manner consistent with Pathfinder's ethical beliefs.
Engagement is not just voting. It also means actively promoting ethical investment and encouraging positive change by corporates. This includes:
Pathfinder KiwiSaver Scheme has the following KiwiSaver Funds. More details on each of these funds can be found in the links below.