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Socially Conscious Balanced

This option invests in a diversified portfolio aligned with a more extensive set of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles than our other investment options. If you're a long-term investor, it may suit you.

We're launching a new investment option menu on 1 July 2024.  Please visit the info hub to learn how this affects Accumulation and Income accounts.


As at 31 December 2023 (updated quarterly)

6.6% p.a.

Returns over the last 10 years1

5+ years

Suggested timeframe

0.65% p.a.

Fees (p.a.) + admin fees and costs


We employ multiple responsible investment approaches. These include screening for shares (exclusions), ESG integration, sustainability-themed investing, and stewardship as set out in our Super Savings Investment Guide. This is in addition to our approach to sustainable investing for other available options.

Investment objective2

Investment objective for Accumulation and Transition to Retirement (TTR) Income accounts: CPI + 3.5% p.a.
Investment objective for Retirement Income accounts: CPI +4.0% p.a.

Option size

Super assets: $377.7 million
Pension assets: $90.2 million


  • Very low
  • Low
  • Low to medium
  • Medium
  • Medium to high
  • High
  • Very high

Expected number of years of negative returns over any 20-year period: 4 to less than 6. The risk is based on the standard risk measure (SRM).

Socially Conscious Balanced performance overview

As at 31 December 20231 (updated quarterly)

The Socially Conscious Balanced (SCB) option returned 4.6% over the December quarter, and 9.6% over the year to December 2023. Over the quarter, inflation and interest rate concerns have remained a key focus for financial markets.

Over the final quarter of 2023, financial markets were buoyed by better news on inflation across a range of economies as well as signs that official interest rates were at or close to a peak and likely to fall over the coming year.

Share and bond returns – both Australian and international - were very strong, although a rise in the Australian dollar against a range of developed and emerging market currencies detracted from the returns of unhedged international shares over the quarter.

For the Socially Conscious Balanced option’s listed shares portfolio over the quarter, stocks that were excluded as a result of screens that apply to this option tended to underperform the broader market. Accordingly, these exclusions contributed to returns.

Accumulation accounts Retirement Income accounts3
10 years (p.a.) 6.6% 7.4%
7 years (p.a.) 7.0% 7.7%
5 years (p.a.) 8.1% 8.8%
3 years (p.a.) 6.5% 7.2%
1 year 9.6% 10.7%
3 months 4.6% 5.1%

Past performance isn't a reliable indicator of future performance. Returns shown are after investment fees, indirect costs and investment taxes (where applicable) but before administration fees. Investment tax doesn't apply to Income accounts.

Socially Conscious Balanced asset allocations

By value as at 31 December 2023


Asset allocations4
Australian shares
International shares
Private Equity
Fixed Income
Alternative Strategies
Total 100%

The following exclusions apply to the SCB option's Australian and international shares asset classes:

Exclusions1 Description of exclusion criteria Exclusion threshold
Thermal coal Mining of thermal coal (including lignite, bituminous, anthracite and steam coal) and its sale to external parties. 5% gross revenue (reported or estimated) threshold in most recent year of financial reporting
Metallurgical coal Mining of metallurgical coal (including coking coal) and its sale to external parties.
Oil and gas Extraction and production or refining of oil and gas.
Fossil fuel power generation Thermal coal, liquid fuel, and natural gas-based power generation.
Alcohol Companies that manufacture alcoholic products, including brewers, distillers, and vintners. It also includes companies that own or operate wine vineyards.
Gambling Companies that operate gambling facilities such as casinos, racetracks, bingo parlours, or other betting establishments.
Adult entertainment2 Companies that produce adult entertainment materials. 
Tobacco and alternative smoking products3 Companies that manufacture tobacco products, or products aimed to replace or supplement tobacco products.  No threshold (companies deriving any revenue from the manufacturing of these products are excluded)  
Controversial weapons Companies that have any tie to controversial weapons (cluster munitions, landmines, biological/chemical weapons, depleted uranium weapons, blinding laser weapons, incendiary weapons, and/or nondetectable fragments).   
Nuclear weapons Companies that have an industry tie to nuclear weapons. 
Live animal exports Australian shares companies that own and/or operate live animal export operations.  Australian shares companies identified by internal desktop research to own and/or operate live animal export operations 

Exceptions to these exclusions

The screening criteria does not apply to pooled vehicles or derivatives, which may have indirect exposure to companies exceeding the negative screens.

The thermal coal and metallurgical coal exclusions do not apply to companies deriving revenue from coal mined for internal power generation, intra-company sales of mined thermal and metallurgical coal, or revenue from coal trading.

The implementation of the exclusions above (other than the exclusion concerning live animal exports) relies upon accuracy of data from a third-party provider (MSCI).

Sometimes we may accept excluded listed shares as part of super fund mergers. In this instance, we seek to divest in a manner aligned with members’ best financial interests, usually within 30 days. Exclusion lists are updated twice yearly. Following those updates, we inform external investment managers which listed equity shares are required to be excluded from new and existing investments.

For other asset classes to which the negative screens referred to above do not apply, we still take steps to integrate consideration of material ESG risks and opportunities into investment decisions we make for the Super Savings ESG options as set out in the Super Savings Investment Guide.


  1. Thermal coal, oil and gas, and fossil fuel power generation exclusions are based on MSCI ESG Climate Change Metrics Methodology (November 2022) and associated universe coverage. The metallurgical coal exclusion uses data supplied through, and defined within, MSCI ESG Manager platform. The alcohol, gambling, adult entertainment, tobacco and alternative smoking products, controversial weapons, and nuclear weapons exclusions use MSCI ESG Business Involvement Screening Research Methodology (October 2022) and associated universe coverage. The live animal export exclusion applies to listed Australian shares companies, and internal desktop research is conducted by Australian Retirement Trust
  2. Companies that produce adult entertainment materials that fall into the following six categories: producer of X-rated films, producer of pay-per-view programming or channels, producer of sexually explicit video games, producer of books or magazines with adult content, live entertainment of an adult nature, producer of adults-only material on the internet.
  3. Tobacco and alternative smoking products refers to companies that manufacture tobacco products (or products aimed to replace or supplement tobacco products), such as cigars, blunts, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, inhalers, beedis, kreteks, smokeless tobacco, snuff, snus, dissolvable and chewing tobacco. This also includes companies that grow or process raw tobacco leaves.

Outlook and strategy

As at 31 December 2023 (updated quarterly)

We do not design portfolios based on our own or anyone else’s short-term economic, market or geopolitical forecasts. However, our investment team and our external investment managers do seek to capitalise on opportunities that inevitably emerge during times of heightened market volatility.

The SCB option continues to hold a substantial allocation to unlisted asset classes, particularly real estate, infrastructure and private equity. We have diversified portfolios of these assets that we expect will deliver strong, long-term returns, while reducing our members’ exposure to share market volatility.

At the end of 2023, our asset allocation slightly favoured shares over bonds. Within our shares allocation, we preferred Japanese, UK and European shares over shares in the US and Australia. In fixed income, we remain underweight European and Japanese bonds; we are broadly neutral on US bonds and remain modestly overweight UK and Australian bonds.

RIAA certified logo

Have confidence in an independently certified fund

Our Socially Conscious Balanced option is a certified responsible investment option.5

The SCB option has been certified by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) according to the strict operational and disclosure practices required under the Responsible Investment Certification Program. See the RIAA website for details.

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  1. Past performance isn't a reliable indicator of future performance. Returns shown are after investment fees and costs, transaction costs, and investment taxes (where relevant) but before admin fees and costs. Returns up to 28 February 2022 are for Sunsuper, and after that are for Australian Retirement Trust using the same products.
  2. When reading the objectives and/or risks please also read the information in the Super Savings Investment Guide under 'Risks of our investment options' and 'Important information about expected returns'.
  3. Tax generally doesn't apply to investment earnings in Retirement Income accounts.
  4. For additional information on these asset classes, strategic asset allocations, and allowable ranges, read the Super Savings Investment Guide. Note that the effective asset allocation takes into account both the physical exposures to assets along with the effective market exposure from derivative instruments such as futures. These instruments are used by Australian Retirement Trust to bring effective market exposures closer to those represented by each option’s strategic asset allocation.
  5. RIAA’s RI Certification Symbol signifies that a product or service offers an investment style that takes into account environmental, social, governance or ethical considerations. The Symbol also signifies that the Socially Conscious Balanced option adheres to the strict operational and disclosure practices required under the Responsible Investment Certification Program for the category of Product. The Certification Symbol is a Trademark of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA). Detailed information about RIAA, the Symbol and Socially Conscious Balanced option’s methodology, performance and stock holdings can be found at, together with details about other responsible investment products certified by RIAA. The Responsible Investment Certification Program does not constitute financial product advice. Neither the Certification Symbol nor RIAA recommends to any person that any financial product is a suitable investment or that returns are guaranteed. Appropriate professional advice should be sought prior to making an investment decision. RIAA does not hold an Australian Financial Services Licence.