Industry super funds have reclaimed their title as Australia’s most ethical financial institutions, the latest figures show.
More than half of Australians (52 per cent) view industry funds as ethical businesses, according to the Governance Institute of Australia’s 2019 Ethics Index.
Independent super funds and stock exchanges came in second and third place, with 42 per cent and 34 per cent of customers respectively viewing these organisations as ethical.
Payday lenders (17 per cent), life insurance companies (28 per cent), and retail banks (29 per cent) inspired significantly less confidence among consumers, the report found.
The number of people who viewed payday lenders as being ethical saw a slight increase on 2018, but these businesses are still considered the least ethical in finance by a significant margin.
While it’s good news for industry fund members, the banking and finance sector continues to receive the lowest sector-wide score in the country.
“The banking and finance sector continues to suffer from credibility issues following the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry,” said Governance Institute chief executive Megan Motto.
“One in two people now rate the sector either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ unethical.”
The exorbitant salaries paid to bank chiefs represents the largest ethical dilemma for banking customers, Ms Motto said, with annual pay-packets above $3 million seen as unethical by 74 per cent of consumers.
Health, education top 2019 rankings
The health sector was named the most ethical industry in the latest index, a title it has held now for four years.
Nearly every occupation within the health industry was perceived as ethical by more than 60 per cent of people.
The only exception was for funeral directors, who saw their score drop from 45 per cent in 2018 to 36 per cent.
The most faith was placed in nurses, which 82 per cent of Australians believe are ethical.
General practitioners (78 per cent) and vets (74 per cent) followed closely behind.
Climate change an ‘urgent ethical threat’
While immigration was found to be the ethical issue Australians saw as most difficult to navigate, climate change rapidly became one of the most pressing concerns in 2019.
“We’ve been struck by the clear and compelling message from this year’s index for business leaders and the government: that more Australians now regard climate change as an urgent ethical obligation,” Ms Motto said.
The index found 90 per cent of people believe the nation has an obligation to transition to renewable energy.
Similarly, more than 60 per cent of Australians now believe government and mutli-national corporations have an “urgent ethical obligation” to address the issue.
One in two believe that obligation extends to individuals, local councils and Australian businesses.
The New Daily is owned by Industry Super Holdings