At the annual van Eyk conference, director Mark Thomas nominated some glowing examples of backpedalling by managers in explaining their tumbling returns, when he unveiled the inglorious Hologram Awards (winners receive only the base of a trophy, hence the name). One category was the ‘Inconvenient Truth’ award for ‘creative stories about performance’. Among the nominations was an email exchange in which Frank Casarotti tested out his defence of the MagellanGlobal Fund, which returned -13.5 per cent in the 6 months to March 31, on the ear of Graham Rich from niche publisher brillient!

“While recording negative absolute returns for the 12 months to July isn’t ideal, the relative returns are reasonable given the current market turmoil,” Casarotti explained. “While performance isn’t everything, the Magellan Global Fund is on track to deliver satisfactory long-term, risk-adjusted returns to unit holders. Please feel free to call if there’s any further information you need.” “Good story, Casa,” Rich responded, before rubbing some gloss off the manager’s words. “I think it says: ‘We’re marvelous, and we are doing the best we can in difficult circumstances, so count yourself lucky you’re with us and not someone else’.

Have I got it right?”“Spot on as usual, Richo,” Casa fired back. Unbalanced assumes that other managers in the room had rolled out similar stories to disgruntled clients, since a few knowing chuckles were heard as Thomas read the email aloud. But we reckon their clients wouldn’t haven take the bad news with as much humour as the van Eyk director, at whose behest Casarotti punched the air three times in victory upon receipt of the trophy stump. Trustee of the Year remembers the real bad old days Tasplan chair Doug Fry was a popular co-winner of this year’s Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees’ ‘Trustee of the Year’ Award, not least because the passionate advocate of super for working Tasmanians is a straight shooter.

Fry doesn’t pretend that the current environment isn’t challenging for members, but he reckons they’re doing okay compared to before he became a founding trustee of Tasplan 20 years ago. “This was when retirement savings for blue collar workers was pretty much a dream,” and by Fry’s recollection the reality for many white collars wasn’t much better. “I was with the clerk’s union, and   we had a superannuation policy with a life company that I’d probably rather not name. They would update the value of the fund annually, and it got to where we couldn’t quite figure out the numbers.

Leave a comment