When member service is ingrained in a fund’s culture and baked into the ethos of its people, the challenge for a chief executive officer can be to channel that energy and drive in the right direction. That’s what Elizabeth Thomas found last August when she became acting CEO of Kinetic Super, winner of the Fund of the Year in the small super fund category at the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards.

“It’s really hard to hold them back, to be honest,” she said.

“From the moment I got there the staff were telling me we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do that, we’ve got to slow down on this, we’ve got to stop that. The fund has this incredible culture which is inculcated within it, so for me it was just riding on top of that and making sure I was directing them with smart decisions.”

Thomas says the fund’s culture has developed over many years, and it has always had a close focus on producing the best possible results for members.

“It’s so bred into the culture and it’s so deeply held within the teams,” she says.

“So many of them have been working in our fund for so many years that you just can’t knock it out of them. It’s really just a matter of making sure we’re directing that in the right way. There’s a really strong desire, and it’s the direction that I provide in making sure we focus on the right things.”

Thomas acknowledges that being a small fund – the category covers funds with assets of less than $5 billion – enables it to be responsive to members’ needs.

“It helps us being nimble,” she says.

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“We don’t have this massive behemoth of a fund so when we set a direction it takes us ages to get moving and to mobilise. We can mobilise fairly quickly.

“We have a very progressive board as well, so they guide and assist us in making decisions on new products and services quite quickly.”

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