The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) is hosting seminars on how superannuation funds can communicate negative returns to members.

While this year will not be the first time many super funds have had to front members with the bad news of poor or negative returns, it will be the first time since choice of fund was introduced. Led by Bill Shannon from social marketing company Shannon’s Way – the company behind the “Compare the Pair” campaign – the seminars aim to look at how funds can “communicate volatile financial markets and the complex nature of long term investments”, the memo to AIST members said. “Funds have a lot to lose if they get it wrong.” AIST chief executive Fiona Reynolds said the seminars were not requested by members, but rather stemmed from enquiries from the mainstream press of what funds were going to do about explaining their poor performance to members. She said Shannon was brought on as an external consultant who has been involved with marketing negative messages effectively, such as the campaign around changes to worker’s compensation in Victoria, as well as marketing for the Transport Accident Commission. Shannon will facilitate a discussion between three marketing and strategy managers of industry and public sector funds on how to communicate poor performance “in a reassuring way..Part of our concern is members have gotten used to the returns of the past five years,” Reynolds said. HESTA executive manager of marketing strategy, Kate Andrews, HOSTPLUS national marketing programs manager, Melissa Birks, and Vision Super manager of fund development, David Moxon, will be on the panel. The seminar will be held in Sydney on June 24th and Melbourne on June 26th. See www.aist.asn.au for details.

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