A Fund Executives Association Limited (FEAL) survey of super executives has found that fund call centres were not as jammed as expected following this year’s negative annual statements.
I&T journalist and associate publisher Amanda White presented the results of the FEAL survey at Melbourne and Sydney luncheons late last month. Of the 43 funds that replied to the survey, 69 per cent said there had been only a marginal increase in the number of enquires following the most recent member statements, while 21 per cent said that the members’ response had been negligible. Administration firms confirmed that activity had been low.
Over the past year, a number of super funds tried to pre-empt members’ questions and confusion by preparing specific, targeted messages to address the anticipated concerns. This, combined with the high prominence of the financial crisis in the media was thought to have prepared members for the bad news.
“One positive flowing from the significant press reporting around volatility in the last 12 months is that members’ interest in their super will be heightened, and they will be easier to communicate with as a result,” one executive in the survey said.
“It has been very important for us to get on the front foot and let members know how we were going relative to funds generally and remind them of the long term. You can’t communicate too much on this issue,” said another.
In perhaps another sign that members were engaged, 40 per cent of fund executives reported members switching to more conservative investment options.
However, there may still be more explaining to do. At the Sydney luncheon, Gerard Doherty, managing director at Fidelity International in Australia, noted that in the 20 years to 2007, there had been 16 days were markets had moved by more than 3-4 per cent. This year there had already been 30, with October being a particularly volatile month. “The rates of enquiry have increased in just the last three weeks,” he said.
Fidelity sponsored both lunches.