Fund Product, Company and Regulatory Updates as at 16 January 2019

Product Updates

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VanEck reduces ETF fees
The VanEck Vectors ChinaAMC CSI 300 ETF (ASX: CETF) is dropping its annual management fee from 0.72 per cent to 0.60 per cent, valid until July 2020, when the fee will once again be re-evaluated.

Company Updates

Strategic Insight (formerly Plan For Life) has been acquired
Strategic Insight has been purchased by Shareholder Services (ISS), a responsible investment and governance solution provider. Both companies are owned by private equity firm, Genstar Capital.

Verve Super launches supporting female financial security
A new superannuation fund has been launched, Verve Super, that specifically excludes investments that do not have women on the board of directors, or a commitment to women on boards. Administration fees will not be charged for members who are on parental leave. Verve Super has partnered with Future Super as its investment manager, Diversa as trustee, and AIA Australia as group insurer. Free financial coaching materials, resources and events will be provided by women for women in the Verve Academy.

Investments will be centred around companies that offer a positive impact for women, the broader community, and the environment, with active advocacy for women’s financial security. Exclusions include gambling, offshore detention, tobacco, weapons, animal cruelty, and fossil fuels.

Supply chain ethics will be evaluated. The fund is being led by Christina Hobbs, a former economist and food security expert for the United Nations’ World Food Programme and former senate candidate for the Australian Greens party.

Equip to take over superannuation for ex-Qantas catering employees
Equip Super has signed a deal to provide superannuation for over 1,000 former Qantas catering staff, after Qantas sold the business to Dnata. Benefits and memberships will be transferred from Qantas Super to Equip.

Regulatory Updates

Insto investors get African index, finally
RisCura and Africa Investor Capital have partnered to develop Africa’s first infrastructure performance index to facilitate investment in infrastructure. The new index will help evaluate investments by releasing performance information starting this quarter, with a wide range of unlisted investment assets covering infrastructure, such as power, transport, renewable energy, and information/communications technology.

Halifax Investment Services AFS licence suspended
ASIC has suspended the Australian Financial Services licence of Halifax Investment Services Pty Ltd until early 2020 after administrators were appointed. The suspension (as opposed to cancellation) allows the closing company access to certain facilities that it may require as it shuts down.

California first US state to mandate gender board diversity
California in the United States has developed legislation for board gender diversity for publicly listed companies, effective immediately. At least one woman must be on the board of directors by the end of 2019, with significant penalties at stake. By 2021, companies with six or more directors must have a minimum of three women on the board. This will affect many finance and investment companies who currently have all-male boards, however the information technology sector will also be broadly affected. Facebook and Apple, for example, only have two women on nine-strong boards.

ASIC releases consultation paper on fee and cost disclosure reform for managed funds
A consultation paper requesting feedback has been released by ASIC regarding a proposal to change the fees and costs disclosure regime for superannuation and managed investment schemes. Draft amendments are now available to examine and respond to.

Consultation Paper 308 Review of RG 97 Disclosing fees and costs in PDSs and periodic statements (CP 308)