The winner of the trustee of the year award used his acceptance speech to take a swipe at over-regulation, which he said only served to make his duties harder.

Gary Clifford, trustee director of the Fire and Energy Services Superannuation Fund, whose colleagues knew he was receiving the award but had not told him, said the qualities for which he was commended were being eroded by legislation.

He said: “I am very honoured and very humbled, this has very much caught me by surprise. I would like to thank my board, which I have been part of for about 20 years. I would [also] like to take a swipe at APRA, which I believe over-regulates us.”

He explained that it was getting harder to get returns for his members and that increased regulation would only make that harder, in particular he was concerned about proposals for independent representation on boards.

“My members are firefighters, so I work among a bunch of ordinary people and they are totally disengaged from super so they hand it over to us, and it is our job to do the job properly and it has been a real pleasure to try and get returns, but it has got tougher  and [because] we are over-regulated it is a distraction.”

Talking to Investment Magazine after he had received his award, Clifford expanded on this theme of over-regulation.

“[Regulation] is getting in the way of doing our job, which is looking after our members and getting the best safe return we can get for them. We are ticking and flicking boxes. It takes up so much time and opportunity that it is interfering with doing the best  job we can do. I was saying to my chairman that we need to be saying to the industry ‘hey this is too much you are interfering with our operations’.”

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Cate Wood, trustee director-deputy chair of CareSuper and president of the AIST, said in support of Clifford’s award:  “It’s fantastic having someone from Western Australia receive this award and for someone who is so diligent in his duties and so close to his members.”

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