Super fund costs are rarely out of the news for long and have recently generated more press and discussion thanks to the Cooper inquiry. Jeremy Cooper’s ‘MySuper’ proposal for a universal low-cost default fund met with widespread criticism from the industry, notwithstanding fairly admirable intentions behind the idea. Costs in super are like the truth: rarely pure and never simple. Warren Chant of Chant West has proposed that super funds should be made to comply with a standard form of reporting their costs and benefits for fees, investment returns and insurance. He says that it is difficult to compare them now – even for trained analysts – because the rules are so loose that they allow differing practices. He also points out that low costs are not always in the best interests of members.

He says that most of the best performing funds of the past few years, on a net returns basis, have had higher-than average fees because of a greater exposure to alpha-producing strategies. And Michael Block, the general manager of investments for FuturePlus, says that funds should be aiming for a closer alignment of interests with their service providers, which is about more than fees. He was scheduled to speak at the Fiduciary Investors Symposium, at Manly on June 1, on the topic of alignment of interests. His prepared presentation notes: “The alignment between fund managers and institutional funds should be on many levels. In an ideal world there would be alignment on time horizons, risk, client service, client retention and loyalty and many other issues and these may be able to be negotiated separately to a fee negotiation.” He quotes David Swensen, the Yale University chief investment officer and one of the world’s greatest investors:

“Individuals desire immediate gratification, leading to overemphasis of policies expected to pay off in a relatively short time frame. At the same time, fund fiduciaries hope to retain power by avoiding controversy, pursuing only conventional investment ideas.” Sharper focus for online news and mag The internet has confounded traditional media companies, such as Conexus Financial, publisher of this magazine, for years. If an increasing proportion of their readership or viewers prefer online news and information, what happens to the traditional advertising revenue base? The problem is particularly acute for big daily newspapers, which have seen not only a contraction in readership but also a decimation of classified advertising due to online search services for employment and real estate.

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