Funds experienced a higher than usual number of members switching out of growth assets in the market turmoil of the past few weeks, but nowhere near as high as the switching levels of 2008.

Better communications have been attributed for the lower levels of switching as US markets experienced one of their largest ever one day falls, with funds sending messages urging members not to sell out of growth assets and call centres playing a role in reminding members of the long term nature of their investments.

Damian Hill, chief executive of REST, described the fall in stock markets worldwide as more of a correction than a crisis and that the fund’s call centres had been reinforcing this message.

“We have seen increased calls and some switching, but not the level we saw in the GFC,” he said and reasoned that it was also a learning experience for members. “It’s a natural reaction depending on your age to test your investment risk,” he said.

Equip has attributed a low demand for switching to the introduction of quarterly investment reports it introduced to members two years ago.

Geoff Brooks, executive officer, strategic marketing and communications at Equip, said members had been pre-warned to expect market volatility.

“We view managing member expectations over the long term as the most effective way to help members avoid making ill-advised decisions,” he said. “Usually, when dramatic market events occur, although we do publish and distribute specific communications, behaviours are difficult to manage if you have not done groundwork over the long-term to help shape them.”

In a message to members last week, John Pearce, chief investment officer of UniSuper, reasoned that as shares were not cheap, they were susceptible to any bad news, while after six years of average returns of 10 per cent, their investments were due a correction.

JANA helped its clients last week by drafting a message for clients’ members encouraging them to be calm, stating that the high volatility in the Chinese A shares market was not particularly relevant to Australian investors.

John Coombe, executive director at JANA, said that after taking into account positive returns in July, up to the end of August members would only see falls of around 2 per cent.

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