For super funds and their advisers

Reader eyeballs in 2020: politics, pandemic and people

9 Readers Eyeballs_B_Web

COVID and politics dominated the specialist investment media this year, as they did with all media, but such topics are not necessarily the most widely read stories. Stories about people are more likely to inspire a reader to read. This is the final edition of the year. We will next publish on January 11, 2021.

So it was for Investor Strategy News again this year, in our annual assessment of reader behaviour. The number of clicks on a story is only a guide to how important or interesting the readers believe it to be, and sometimes not a very good guide.

Other factors are relevant, such as time spent reading, the number of people a story is forwarded to, and the number of comments the story generates. And there’s always competition for the reader’s attention, from other media and from within one’s own publication. This year we have attempted to combine all those factors into a sort-of analog algorithm, leaving us with this ranking:

  1. Conflict has always attracted readers, listeners and viewers, so it is probably appropriate that the most-read story in ISN this year was the ACTU’s emergency meeting about the future of super in early October. Given persistent questioning by the Coalition there was little doubt that the Government was thinking about delaying once more a rise in the SG.

  2. The ACTU’s meeting preceded the October Budget which attracted more industry attention than usual because of the backdrop of a worrying political battle which had set the scene. The Budget also contained sufficient questionable proposals, likely leading to unintended consequences, to keep the lobby groups busy to well into next year.

  3. Liberal backbenchers Senator Andrew Bragg and MP Tim Wilson received plenty of airplay starting in July, which fed into further headlines as their respective parliamentary committee hearings got into full swing more recently. The early press coincided with each publishing books which detailed their position(s) on super.

  4. We published five obituaries this year, of which three would have made it into the top 10 for clicks without being combined for this ranking. Those three were Ian Perkins, a popular and well-known figure in asset servicing, Adam Coughlan, a similarly popular marketer in the wholesale and platforms space, and Andrew Dawson, who had retired from the industry for several years after a spinal operation which left him partly paralysed. He was a journalist and filmmaker who would usually be seen at big AIST events, filming with his colourful crew and very often holding court after dinner. He was a natural storyteller. The other two obituaries, which were also well-read, were for Melinda Clark, among the first few employees at SuperRatings where she met her husband Jason, one of the co-founders, and for John McNiven, an Australian who became a maverick in the fixed income market globally. A common theme was they each had lots of friends.

  5. Brian Delaney’s announcement in July that he would retire from QIC, where he had been head of client solutions for eight years, to be replaced by Ravi Sriskandarajah, was well read but surpassed in October by a long story on Delaney’s career achievements, his views on the industry and his likely future direction.

  6. Most SuperRatings stories rate well, as do those of competitor Chant West – be they about fund rankings or award recipients – but possibly the last word on the two SuperRatings founders, Jeff Bresnahan and Jason Clarke, rated extremely well. Our September story detailed the history and sale of their combined 37 per cent of the company to Rob Coombe’s Generation Development Group for $20.1 million in cash and an additional amount of up to $6.6 million in shares after hurdles.

  7. Very early in the year a story on Magellan’s new quoted managed fund, launched at a breakfast jointly organised by administrator Mainstream, surprised us with the interest it generated. As the year staggered along under the weight of health and economic woes, other managers started to talk more earnestly with administrators and trustee companies about following suit. In November, boutique Loftus Peak became the second user of the new service, also with Mainstream.

  8. Sean Henaghan called it quits at AMP Capital after 16 years and after taking a 15-month sabbatical which turned into 19 months. For much of those 16 years he ran the firm’s $120 billion multi-asset portfolio. He is currently smelling the roses with his family in New Zealand while considering his next move.

  9. Asset servicing stories were popular, particularly a 3,000-word piece on the state and likely future of custody, which was based on the results of a survey of eight high-profile people in that sector of the industry. This was compiled with the help of the Australian Custodial Services Association in November. The custodians shone through the pandemic, proving their worth for security and consistency of service, probably better than any other sector.

  10. Fallout from M&A activity, both for funds and managers, invariably attract attention, especially the human element of likley redundancies. There was no shortage of either but the standout for readers, in our September report, was the repercussions of the MLC acquisition from NAB by IOOF, with some unanswered questions posed too, such as the long-term ownership structure for JANA.

Our best wishes for the festive season to all readers, sponsors and advertisers who helped us through such a memorable period.

– Greg Bright

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