Its new product, WealthVue, aims to provide full visibility and reporting of members’ investments, such as superannuation, SMAs, share portfolios and SMSF particulars such as holiday homes. Essentially, the platform allows members to administer all of their investments, inside and outside super, in one place. The provider has contracted Paul Murphy, former head of marketing and business development at UniSuper, to spearhead its delivery to super funds, while Chris Sperber, CEO of OneVue Australia, is talking to custodians and member administrators about the offering. Sperber says funds’ current efforts to empower members, such as providing direct shares options, amounted to a “distress call” over leakage and were not real solutions. He says funds should view the SMSF phenomenon as a cue to broaden their value proposition to members. Murphy will initially approach funds with financial planning arms to discuss the platform, which will provide three administrative options based on broad levels of empowerment, verbalised as: ‘I want to do all of it’, ‘I need help’ and ‘I want someone to do it for me’.

He says the next stage of the SMSF trend may see the industry asking itself whether super funds can serve as investment vehicles without being trustees. “Why not? They’ve got big, scaleable asset pools. They’ve got custodial relationships. If they see themselves as financial services institutions, they have to go down this path.” Cont rol freaks Tony Lally, CEO at the $17 billion Sunsuper, is aware of the mission creep involved in such a tactic. Ultimately, SMSF trustees choose to run their own super or pay someone else to do it, and providing bolt-on services to give members more control, or broadening the administration capabilities of a fund to allow for customised portfolios, will not stop the leakage, he says. “We don’t think that playing at the edges is really a solution: you compete with SMSFs or you are an SMSF,” Lally says. The self-administered fund has considered offering the accountancy services needed to cater to SMSFs, but concluded that this would distract it from its core purpose.

“Are we record-keepers or a super fund? Keeping records of people’s property or artworks or [private] share ownerships – that’s a different business completely.” SMSF leakage is a big concern for the $4.4 billion Equipsuper. Its average active account balance of $150,000 is substantially higher than that of most industry funds, says John Farrington, manager of retirement services at the fund. He says the major motivation for establishing an SMSF is autonomy. “Members are after control – either real or perceived,” and enabling them to invest directly in Australian equities does not satisfy this desire. Nor is it viable for the fund: “The costs would be disproportionate to the benefit it would bring.” Instead, the fund focuses on member education. After determining that members who set up SMSFs usually seek advice beforehand, it set up a financial planning arm more than three years ago. Even when members exit to SMSFs, Equipsuper attempts to stay in touch with them “in case things go wrong” to provide advice or investment options which can find a place within an SMSF, Farrington says.

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