The group of eager investors included a 90-year-old man who woke up at 5:30am to catch a train all the way from regional Victoria to the Melbourne CBD.
Over the course of two sessions, the UCA Funds Management team provided an outlook of the global economic landscape and the challenges of a low inflation environment.
Director of Investments Benjamin Pedley examined the theme ‘Interest rates – lower for longer’. Drawing on recent events like Brexit and the upcoming US election, Mr Pedley explained how global uncertainty has contributed to lower interest rates.
“Low interest rates are a global phenomenon. But Australia is in one of the better positions in the sense that at least interest rates are, in real terms, positive,” he said.
“If you look at countries like Switzerland, Japan and the Euro Zone, each of those economies in terms of cash interest rates are negative.
“We’re almost at a deflationary stage in Australia because you’ve got a situation where commodity prices are low, innovation is improving and productivity as a result is picking up. So you’ve got a structural decline of inflation that’s driving interest rates low.”
As an ethical investor, UCA Funds Management has a screening process to ensure they do not invest in companies involved in activities such as gambling, tobacco, environmental destruction and human rights abuses.
Portfolio Manager Tim Starke monitors companies for compliance with UCA Funds Management’s Ethical Investment Policy.
“At UCA Funds Management, we invest money in companies not just for the greater good but also for greater financial returns,” Mr Starke said.
During the panel discussion, UCA Funds Management CEO Michael Walsh spoke about their decision to exclude payday lenders from their investment list. In June, Synod adopted a proposal to curb the predatory practices of payday lenders who exploit financially vulnerable people in the community.
UCA Funds Management has been engaging with the payday lending industry to reduce the harm inflicted on Australians trapped in a cycle of debt.
“We formed a collaborative engagement group that included UnitingCare counsellors, financial counsellors, other not-for-profit organisations and other institutions who we believe have good investment policies and experts in ethical investment research,” Mr Walsh said.
“We had a lot of conversations with people who would not normally talk about these issues and also developed some suggestions for companies to improve their practices.”
UCA Funds Management will be hosting an online version of the Investor Briefing on 23 August 11:30am for those who could not attend the event. You can register here.
If you would like a copy of the investor briefing presentation, you can email UCA Funds Management on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 1800 996 888.