Fund Product, Company and Regulatory Updates as at 10 September 2018

Product Updates

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Vanguard rolls out suite of ESG funds
Vanguard's latest funds include a range of ethically-minded funds, launched in the New Zealand and Australian markets. The Ethically Conscious range of global share and bond funds operate in both unlisted and exchange traded funds in Australia, built specifically for the local markets. New Zealand has the Ethically Conscious Global Aggregate Bond Index Fund, with a similarly named international shares fund. These two products exclude fossil fuel reserves, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, weapons, nuclear power and adult entertainment. 

Nikko launches global disruption fund
In collaboration with part-owned ARK Investment Management, Nikko Asset Management is launching a global disruption innovation fund. The global equity portfolio will focus on innovative companies that are disrupting traditional industries, using robotics, automation, energy storage, gene sequencing and internet technologies. Disruptive innovations means introducing a technologically enabled product or service to change an industry using simplicity, accessibility and lower costs. 

BNP Paribas launches new Australian equities trust
A new benchmark insensitive Aussie equities trust has been launched, aiming to beat the S&P/ASX300 accumulation index by six per cent annually over five years. The trust will hold 30-40 stocks in a partnership with JCP Investment Partners as investment manager. The trust has a minimum investment size of $25,000, available to Australian and New Zealand investors. 

Company Updates

Funds SA securities servicing contract up for tender
South Australia's government fund manager, Funds SA, is putting its securities servicing contract up for tender, to possibly displace current provider J.P. Morgan. The process is going to be a closed affair, with a few select candidates invited to compete. 

Blockchain smart contracts for business soon to be a reality
CSIRO's Data61 is joining forces with IBM and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills to develop Australia's first large scale digital platform for smart legal contracts, using blockchain technology. The new platform is the Australian National Blockchain (ANB), which will allow companies to join up to the network for digital contracts, data exchange, and confirmation of authenticity/status of contracts. The full lifecycle of a contract can be managed, from negotiation, signing, and transparent viewing. Events can be triggered if a set of conditions are met, for example to make a payment. 

Regulatory Updates

Pension age increase on hold
The government is not planning on raising the age pension access age to 70 just yet, confirmed Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 

UniSuper cuts administration fees
Lower-balance accounts at UniSuper will have their admin fees cut, with balances of less than $4,800 now paying only two per cent of the account balance in administration fees. This is lower than the $96 usual annual fee for all members. About 100,000 members will be affected by the drop in fees, with the drop only applicable to accumulation products. The change comes into effect from 1 October 2018.