There weren’t too many surprises at the annual Chant West Awards dinner in Sydney on May 22, with UniSuper taking out the ‘super fund of the year’ and QSuper the ‘pension fund of the year’ awards. Perhaps the biggest surprise was a tie between First State Super and its proposed merger partner, VicSuper, in the ‘integrity award’ category.
As is often the case, the winner of the main ‘investments award’ – in this case UniSuper – goes on to win the main prize too. The other two funds short-listed for the investments category were AustralianSuper and QSuper. A sell-out black-tie audience of about 320 gathered in the Ivy Ballroom, with 13 awards in 12 categories – the FSS/Vic Super tie was a first, requiring a 13th award.
Brendan Burwood, the Chant West chief executive, said the investment model for the industry got “a big tick”, with the median fund in the research house’s universe returning an average of 7 per cent a year since the inception of the Superannuation Guarantee in 1992. This was about 1 per cent a year ahead of their targets. By comparison, inflation averaged 2.6 per cent over that time.
But it wasn’t all smiles on the night, given the revelations from the Royal Commission into Banking and Superannuation. “The lesson from the Royal Commission was a lack of respect for and compliance with the law,” Burwood said. “It is clear that the regulators will no longer play softly softly with their intent. We must improve how we are regarded as an industry.”
Mark Harper, from major sponsor AIA, predicted that regulatory change would likely accelerate. “Any organisation that is not embracing innovation and technology will be left behind, not just by the industry but also by their customers.” The winner of the ‘innovation award’ was a relatively small fund: Guild Super, which pipped the other short-listed fund, Russell IQ Super.
Ian Fryer, Chant West head of research, hammered home the Royal Commission’s revelations when introducing the ‘best fund advice services award’, won by UniSuper. Perhaps unnecessarily, he said “financial advice didn’t get a good hearing at the Royal Commission, but we know that good advice helps tens of thousands of people per year.” The other two short-listed funds were First State Super and Sunsuper.
For the insurance category, the winner – NGS Super – was helped by being in a single industry of private schools which helps keep premiums down, compared with big multi-industry funds like AustralianSuper or Sunsuper. Sunsuper, however, won the ‘member services award’ from Mercer.
In other categories, CFS First Choice won ‘best fund longevity product’; HESTA won ‘specialist fund of the year’; NetWealth won ‘advised product of the year’; and, Sunsuper won ‘corporate solutions fund of the year’ from “an impressive field”, Fryer said.
Full details, including all category finalists, at: https://www.chantwest.com.au/fund-awards/about-the-awards