Scott Hartley has pledged lower fees for Sunsuper members in a bullish statement on the fund’s ability to become top choice for corporate clients.

In his first public utterances since becoming chief executive, Hartley’s pledge is in stark contrast to most other funds, who have held out little prospect of fee cuts in the face of increased regulation.

Hartley would not be drawn on exactly when Sunsuper’s fees will fall, which are 0.84 per cent for a member with $50,000 invested in its MySuper product and 0.99 per cent for $25,000*, but said: “Sunsuper is in extraordinarily good shape to be able to bring down fees and for services to members to go up.”

His recipe for reduced fees is the maintenance of a strong capital position, investment in operational efficiencies and more work to make investment fees as efficient as possible.

He also pledged an improvement in services to members each quarter, “whether it be something digital or a customer service capability change.”

He has created a new look team built around three hires from his previous employer Plum/ MLC, to help replicate the success he enjoyed there in winning corporate clients and to exploit Sunsuper’s advantages of scale and technology.

Michael Mulholland will head up a new growth and advice division that will build a national sales strategy to attract corporate and institutional clients.

Jason Sommer will lead a product, projects and technical services team, within which Earle May, currently a relationship manager of eight year’s experience at Plum, will soon start to head the client transitions team.

Hartley intends to use these new hires to “aggressively target national growth” using “untapped potential” at Sunsuper. He sees the fund’s in-house technology as key.

“Australian Super can only really provide their standard MySuper products to corporates, whereas Sunsuper has the ability to offer tailored arrangements,” he said.

He cited the example of tailored insurance offers, or for larger funds, tailored investment arrangements and unique MySuper product licences.

“We have that ability where others don’t. It is a combination of technology and people and process. Having our own customer service ability and technology operating platform is a huge advantage.”

He saw Sunsuper’s profit for members approach as ultimately a more attractive offer than the master trusts of Mercer, Plum and AMP as well.

“They have to balance customer and shareholder interests. And having been there, that is a significant balancing act. They will struggle to compete with us sustainably over the long term, because of the shareholder requiring margin.”

In other changes at Sunsuper, Terri Hamilton has been made responsible for the fund’s new risk, compliance and legal division and Craig Neal will replace Bruce Wilson as chief financial officer. After 13 years at the fund, Wilson has resigned and plans to spend more time with his family in Scotland.

* Figures from Chant West Super Fund Fee Survey

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