There are advocates for more independent trustees, for more women on boards, more ethnic representation and those who generally talk up the virtues of diversity, but where are the advocates for 20-30 something trustees?

We are all on a path from youth to older age and so perhaps it is not generally seen as a discrimination issue.

I propose that youth is needed, not so much to represent other young members, but for the sort of mindset that creates internet start-ups, for the energy and determination that seeks to improve the state of the world and see records broken. Ultimately, it is the way youth relishes change which I suspect will be a factor in the superannuation funds that flourish and those that wither in an era of growing complexity and disruption.

What sort of objections could be raised against a younger trustee? That it takes years to understand superannuation fully? To overcome this objection I guess we need people who are fast learners.

Also you might ask if young people are interested enough to apply for the role? This might need to be flipped around. Young people should probably be found and nurtured.

This is all hypothetical, but I suspect youth will come in on the coat tails of other campaigns.

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees’ excellent initiative to educate women to the level that they can apply for positions on boards has led to five being appointed. Going by the theory of good governance espoused by David Gonski in his masterful speech at CMSF in March, diverse boards tend to lead to better decision making and high performance. One of the better decisions that comes from that, I hope, is the recognition that every fund needs a young, extremely bright thing who has a vision for what is wrong and what should change.

One comment on “Opinion: The case for younger trustees”
  1. While this is a fabulous idea and would be of great benefit to our industry, being a woman in my early 30’s (double whammy) I find it nearly laughable to even entertain the fact that one of the gold buttoned misogynists that nearly rule the superannuation world would even consider me to sit at a board table next to them and have to listen and maybe even consider my opinion on how to run a business. Despite being well educated, relied upon to provide advice on critical matters on behalf of a large organisation, and able to run my own successful business on the side (outside of financial services) I find that most of the time the talent most board members appreciate is my ability to fetch them a cup of tea and a bikkie.
    We have a long way to go before we (as an industry) are willing to open our minds to the entrepreneurial spirit of us ‘whipper snappers’.

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