The board of JUST Super, the journalists and entertainers fund, will study the merger of Finsuper with STA/ARF before deciding on whether to consider going down the same route, according to the fund’s chair, Gerard Noonan, who was awarded the Trustee of the Year at last week’s CMSF conference.

Speaking after the presentation, Noonan said he did not expect a merger to happen soon – probably not before two years – so trustees could study the “STA model”. STA and its own merger partner, ARF, offer a type of white-labelling service for larger funds wanting to take advantage of its scale. Funds, such as Finsuper, which merges from July 1, retain their own identity and insurance arrangements. The trustee boards can also be retained as advisory committees. Noonan said it was very difficult for a fund of JUST’s size – about $700 million – to keep costs down to the same level as the bigger funds. STA/ARF will have about $20 billion post merger. He said, however, that the trustee system, which is under pressure from industry demographics as well as commercial competition, was shown to have worked. He said the trustee system, of equal employer and employee representation, kept trustees close to their members and also made for “bolder” investment decisions. Trustees were more likely to take a long-term view than business people running funds. This is the second time a JUST trustee has taken out the annual award, sponsored since inception by Portfolio Partners. Journalist Ross Greenwood won it in 1996.

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