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New ethical investing app Kwala launches in Australia


Users are able to start investing with an ethical fund for just $10 with fees as low as $2 a month.

A new investing app will provide Australians keen on ethical investing the access to companies with globally recognised credentials in ethics, sustainability and prudent governance.

Kwala was launched on Monday by Peter Bennetto and his 2 co-founders, Dr Patrice Newell AM and Geoffrey Zabell with the aim of improving access to wealth for Australians.

Australia has seen a growing interest in ethical investing over the past few years, given the devastating impact of climate change ranging from the bushfires of 2020 to the recent floods in the eastern states.

According to the app's creators, it is "designed to empower ordinary people to achieve financial freedom whilst creating a positive impact on the world."

"Kwala provides customers with the ability to understand their invested power. It is about making long term change for the betterment of the world, and your bank account," Zabell said.

How it works

The app provides access to the Kwala Fund, which is a managed investment scheme structured as an Australian unit trust and registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

The Kwala Fund invests in companies with high environmental, social, health or technological attributes on the Australian and international stock exchanges.

Each company within the fund is assessed on its financial performance, environmental and social contribution, tax rates paid on profits, corporate governance and future prospects, through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Each of the investments undergo an extensive review and auditing process, taking into consideration the financial and social impact of each company.

To ensure due diligence, the Kwala committee of investment strategists and environmental advocates considers each company individually, rather than an automated robo-investing model utilised by some other investment apps.

Kwala offers a single investment option that gives exposure to a portfolio of listed and unlisted stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and managed funds through managed accounts.

The securities will either be listed or quoted on major global exchanges or are unlisted securities from Australia and developed international markets. These will account for about 98% of the fund allocation, with the remaining 2% being held in cash.

As such, Kwala has termed its current investment option as "high risk" and suggests an investment time frame of 7 years for this.

It expects to add more investment options in the future.

What are the costs?

Kwala works on a simple, tiered subscription model with members able to start investing with as little as $10.

For portfolio balances below $5,000: Account fee of $2 a month.

For balances from $5,000 to $15,000: Account fee of $3 a month.

For balances above $15,000: Account fee of $4 a month.

In addition, it charges 0.49% p.a. indirect costs on the portfolio balance.

The above charges are deducted on a monthly basis directly from the user's linked bank account. It does not charge any other fees for moving money in or out of the fund.

Growing competition

Kwala isn't the first app to offer an ethical investing platform in Australia.

With more than half of Australians more mindful of their environmental impact since COVID-19 and 1 in 2 Australians actively looking for greener products or services, competition in the space has been heating up.

Other ethical investing apps that are already available in the market include Goodments, which offers access to more than 2,000 shares and ETFs, and Bloom, which offers exclusively climate impact investing.

A number of trading platforms including eToro and Superhero also offer access to ethical investment products.

The Kwala app can now be downloaded via the App Store or Google Play.

Looking for a low-cost online broker to invest in the stock market? Compare share trading platforms to start investing in stocks and ETFs.

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