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MAX Award winners and the new world outside


Half-way through the MAX and Investment Leadership awards for 2022, the audience was silenced by researcher and co-organiser Alex Dunnin. He said: ‘Life has caught up with us.” His forecasts were chilling.

“The investment world has changed entirely,” he said. Now, we are on track to see 9 per cent inflation by the end of the year, 6 per cent interest rates and zero super fund returns for the year to June 30.

Dunnin, who was announcing the winners of the investment section of the evening, the Investment Leadership Awards, made the point that times had already been tough for most of the people in the audience. To make a short list for any of the awards was hard to do and everyone who did so should be congratulated.

  • “To cope, you need to be a leader,” he said. “Leaders restore calm and get you out of the fire and to safety… They go unappreciated, unloved and many will soon be forgotten because too many of us take you for granted. But not tonight.”

    The top investment award, the Investment Manager of the Year, went to First Sentier Investors.

    But the MAX Awards, for marketing and sales excellence in financial services, were what most of the 350-strong audience, a record, came to see. And to be seen. In its 28th year, the MAX Awards remain a unique event for people who are normally behind the scenes in the investment world. The presentation dinner was held in Sydney on June 9.

    Greg Bright and Lachlan Maddock

    There were 23 award categories and 24 winners. The award for Community Initiative of the Year had two winners – Sydney-based global infrastructure manager ClearBridge Investments and Melbourne-based fixed income manager and mortgage lender La Trobe Financial.

    Deepika Rodrigo, Bree Napier and Matt Lee

    Michelle Baltazar, executive director for media at Rainmaker Information, and another co-organiser, said the dual winners were presented for the first time. Both had shown commitment to philanthropy, but, specifically over the past year, ClearBridge had instigated ‘WaterAid’ to fund sustainable water infrastructure in Timor Leste and La Trobe, which is a previous MAX winner for its philanthropic foundation, collected more than $1 million for flood victims in NSW and Queensland. ClearBridge also won an Investment Leaders Award for its ‘Rare Infrastructure Income Fund (hedged)’.

    Traditionally, the two biggest awards are the ‘Executive of the Year – Distribution’ and the ‘Executive of the Year – Marketing’. In recent years and as the awards grew in popularity, more categories have been added to include the influence of social media, internet delivery, digital artistry, and, for the first time this year, podcasts.

    The top executive of the year for distribution was Leah Willis, the head of client relationships at Australian Ethical (pictured at top with Jamie Nemtsas, CEO of the Inside Network). The top executive of the year for marketing was Renee Kaesler, the marketing head for BNP Paribas Asset Management.

    Leah Willis with Rainmaker’s Michelle Balthazar and Chris Page

    The two winning teams in those categories were Warakirri Asset Management for distribution and BetaShares for marketing.

    Both Australian Ethical and BNP Paribas had a big night. Australian Ethical also won the Social Media Campaign category and was a finalist for the Website of the Year. BNP Paribas was a finalist in three other awards – marketing team, marketing campaign and product launch.

    Australian Ethical, which also won the social media campaign of the year last year, produced a doozy for the latest awards. As previously reported with our annual predictions, Australian Ethical’s Maria Loyez oversaw the awareness campaign to influence Australians ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The firm took out a wraparound cover advertisement in London’s Financial Times for the launch, boosted by social media and website promotion, resulting in 7,500 registrations of support within a few days.

    The Website of the Year was won by not-for-profit super fund SuperSA, the video campaign by Vanguard, Financial Education Campaign by not-for-profit Aware Super (which also won the Print Campaign of the Year), Digital Campaign by BT and new Podcast of the Year Category by “She’s on the Money”.

    The other not-for-profit super fund to win an award was Unisuper for a consumer marketing campaign to promote itself as ‘Super Fund of the Year’.

    Among the agencies, the Creative Agency of the Year went to a boutique specialising in web-related design, Nibble Digital.

    Dorian Simes and Deepika Rodrigo

    An important client for the partners, Deepika Rodrigo and Dorian Simes, happens to be The Inside Network, the ultimate owner of this masthead through its controlling interest in Shed Connect.

    Ptarmigan Media, a regular award winner at the MAX Awards, picked up both the Agency of the Year and Agency Executive of the Year, with Reina Yuguchi. Fundamental Media, another regular winner, picked up Agency Campaign of the Year with its client Centura.

    Honner became a four-time winner of the Public Relations Agency of the Year award in a tight field. The runners up were PritchittBland, FCR, which is probably the oldest specialist financial services PR agency in Australia, boutique Reverb Media and our colleagues at Shed Connect, another previous winner, who, sadly, went home without a cigar.

    With our predictions published last month (May), our success rate was four out of the nine categories in which we placed a bet. This was eerily the same success rate as the previous year. We’d like to point out though, this year we correctly predicted both distribution executive and marketing executives of the year.

    For the full list of winners, go to: www.financialstandard.com.au/max

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