A response to recent articles relating to Verve Super
The AFR recently published two articles relating to Verve Super, on April 10 and April 12, 2020. Disappointingly, both articles contained what we believe is misleading information.
The management of Verve Super were not given notice about the articles or interviewed prior to either article going to print. The quotes used in the article were from an old email exchange and taken out of context. Easily accessible information on the Verve Super website was also not considered by the journalists.
The key focus of the AFR article printed on April 10, is that Verve Super has a ‘parent company’ and that Verve Super charges higher fees for the same product that the parent company offers. Both claims are incorrect.
To start with, Verve Superannuation Pty Ltd (trading as Verve Super) does not have a parent company. The fund is founded by three women.
Secondly, the Future Super investment option that Verve is compared to is not a like-for-like comparison. Whilst all Verve Super members are invested in one balanced investment option, Future Super members are invested in one of three different investment options, each of which has a different investment strategy and two of Future Super’s options (including the one we consider to be most closely aligned to verve’s product) have higher fees than Verve Super. Unlike Verve’s product, the Future Super product that Verve was compared to is a purely indexed based product with only five assets, compared to Verve’s product that invests in over 100 different assets, Verve also invests in impact based alternatives to support women, our community and our planet. There was also no mention of the other two options in the article.
The article also compares Verve Super to HESTA’s generic balanced product. However, HESTA’s product does not apply the same ethical screens as Verve Super. According to independent organisation Market Forces:
“From the limited information available, we know at least 9% of [HESTA’s] Core Pool Australian share investments is in companies actively undermining the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, including Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy, and BHP”.
As of the date of publishing, the ‘ECO’ option of HESTA, which is the fund’s most ‘ethical’ option (although HESTA does not release all of its holdings so it is not known what the fund is invested in) has a fee of 1.21% +$65 p.a. Verve Super’s fee, at the date of publishing, was 1.19% + $93.60 p.a. View here for current fees. Please note: if you are reading this article and contemplating an investment decision, you should not rely solely on this information to make a decision regarding where your super is invested. Please consider the Product Disclosure Statement of each product and consider seeking independent professional advice based on your personal financial objectives, situation and needs.
So what’s the truth?
The fee for investing in Verve Super’s Balanced Growth investment option is lower than that charged by the average superannuation fund with a ‘balanced’ investment strategy.
We are proud of the returns we are delivering to members and the value that we provide to our members through our ethical investment approach. While all super funds experienced investment losses during COVID-19, newly released data shows that Verve was able to protect member balances from the worst of the market drops, returning the 6th highest performance out of 216 balanced investment options over the 12-month period to the end of April 2020 (according to data from SuperRatings).
We are also particularly proud to provide service that members love, while keeping our fees comparable to many of the so-called ‘ethical’ or ‘responsible’ products of Australia’s largest super funds.
 The owners of Verve Superannuation Pty Ltd, the company that founded and promotes Verve Super, are the founders and staff of Verve Super, and a group of impact investors. No institution owns a controlling stake. Verve Super has engaged Future Super as its Fund Manager. Interests in Verve Super are issued by Diversa Trustees Limited as trustee of the Future Super Fund. You can learn more about our founders at https://vervesuper.com.au/about-us/