Makybe Diva did it. Now HostPlus has won three in a row taking out the 2008 SuperRatings Fund of the Year award. David Elia, who inherited a fractured board as chief executive of HostPlus only a few years ago, has turned the fund around to be innovative from an investment point of view, but also as an employer of choice, according to SuperRatings.

In accepting the award, Elia praised both his board and his employees. “This business is about people at the end of the day and I have a fabulous team,” he said. “My job is easy, I just remove blockages, they create the ideas.” Other winners for 2008 include Axa North Personal Super and Pension for the best new product, and joint winners Auscoal Super and privately owned master trust, netwealth, for the rising star.

Axa’s Andrew Barrett, who designed the North product which has capital guarantees embedded, said the funds management and advice business faced an interesting future in accommodating investor’s needs. Meanwhile Auscoal’s Bruce Watson said it was an honour to accept the rising star award, for a fund that was based on the Miners’ Pension fund, launched in 1941.

“Our campaigns have been so effective they are surprising us,” he said. “Salary sacrifice was up 26 per cent last year and it is up 13 per cent again this year.” Chief executive of SuperRatings, Jeff Bresnahan, said the industry was showing signs of genuine innovation. “The industry continues to get better and better quite quickly,” he said. “Funds are finally switching on that this is a really competitive market and they have to get their act together or they are gone.” SuperRatings, which has held the awards for six years, assesses 240 super funds, and 140 pension products.

Funds are assessed on over 400 criteria including qualitative and quantitative areas including investments, fees, insurance, service delivery, member education, financial planning facilities, employer support and fund governance. Bresnahan said there was little difference between the top 10 or 15 products, and that products continued to present value for money for members.

The finalists for Fund of the Year were: AGEST, AustralianSuper, BUSS(Q), Catholic Super, HESTA, HostPlus, MTAA Super (the runnerup), QSuper, Sunsuper and Vision Super. Bresnahan added : “Australians are fortunate to have so many funds providing excellent value for money to consumers. However, that doesn’t mean members can be complacent with some funds still offering little relative value in the accrual and management of their retirement benefits”