Some who are responsible for managing part of Australia’s $1.8 trillion funds under management say they already are transparent on their investments and believe caution should be exercised to ensure costs don’t outweigh the benefits of disclosure.

“We’re happy to disclose each and every one of our investments,” says Sam Sicilia, chief investment officer of the $10 billion superannuation fund HostPlus.

“We use public fund managers and most of their portfolios are clearly visible,” says Sicilia.

HostPlus reports its investments a quarter after they have been made.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia Ltd. and the Financial Services Council plan to meet at the behest of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission which wants funds to disclose their investments.

ASFA and the FSC plan to submit a final report on disclosure to ASIC by the end of June.

BT Financial Group, whose call center is open 10-and-a-half hours-a-day, five-days-a-week, says it has received 1.7 million calls in the last year often from its customers seeking up to date information on their investments.

“We don’t get feedback from our members that our disclosure is inadequate,” says Garrie Lette, chief investment officer of Catholic Super, which manages about $4 billion.

“We don’t see it as a major issue for us but if the industry says investment disclosure needs improvement we’ll embrace it,” says Lette.

Brett Jollie, managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management Ltd., says an assessment must be made when disclosing investment of whether the costs outweigh the benefits.

There also must be discussion around the level of disclosure required and the intellectual property of fund managers, says Jollie.

Ross Kent, managing director, institutional relationships, AllianceBernstein Australia Ltd., says client interests need to be protected in any discussion about fund disclsoure.

“The risk is that disclosure of current individual stock holdings could provide an opportunity for third parties to use information for trading purposes,” says Kent.

Aberdeen, which manages about $17 billion in Australia, discloses its strategy, investment vehicles, philosophy and processes in publicly available documents.

Jollie says Aberdeen will be providing “some input” into “the debate” on investment disclosure.

Melanie Evans, head of superannuation and platforms at BT Financial Group, says Australia’s fund managers must ask themselves if they have been transparent enough on their investment disclosure to their investors.

“It is not as high or deep as it could have been,” says Evans, whose group manages about $59 billion of superannuation money. “But you do need to respect that detailed disclosure may have some impact on a fund manager’s intellectual property.”

 

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