Sunsuper is using its new referral program with the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) to lure national employers based in Melbourne and Sydney.

The program sees it retain its in-house team of advisers in Queensland and Sydney and add direct relationships with adviser practices nationwide which share the fund’s philosophy of always acting in members’ best interests.

The deal has been brokered by Michael Mulholland, executive general manager, growth and advice at Sunsuper, who joined the fund from NAB Wealth six months ago where he led NAB’s New South Wales adviser force.

Mulholland sees growth potential from national employers with head offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Large national employers want geographical coverage for their employees and for their super fund to have vetted the advisers to make sure they are of sufficient quality,” he said. “Some employers have a very parental way of looking at their employees and want professional advice for them.”

The deal with the FPA will seek to broker favourable advice fees for Sunsuper members.

“Employers want a super offer that not only ticks the boxes of returns and low fees, but helps them deliver their own internal proposition for employees,” he said.

The deal between Sunsuper and the FPA was announced two days before the Coalition government saw its bid to curtail the full impact of FOFA reforms voted down in the Senate.

Mulholland said this was reassuring. “The vote clearly acts in the consumers best interest, it gives extra safeguards and ensures that consumers are in control of any fees they are paying, that they understand it and advisors act in their best interest.”

He added that despite the FOFA reforms many advisors had already moved to work on a ‘best interest’ philosophy for their clients anyway.

Anthony Serhan, head of research at Morningstar, predicted the deal between Sunsuper and FPA would lead to a greater demand for research and data on the fund from advisers.

“We have also seen better data flow from those funds who have recognised that members’ superannuation balances are part of a wider eco-system in terms of financial advice and investing, and they should be part of that eco-system,” he said.