Investment prowess got Austsafe Super across the line to win Small Fund of the Year at the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017.

AustSafe Super is a $2 billion industry fund for rural and regional communities and industries, with offices in Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania.

The judges said AustSafe’s investment framework and track record was what set it apart, with finalists in the category neck-and-neck on member services and insurance offerings.

“But we found that the winner stood out when it came to investments,” award judge and Fund Executive Association Limited chief executive Joanna Davison said.

She added AustSafe had good past performance and did very well on forward looking estimate of member benefits based on the structure of the default option.

AustSafe general manager, investments, Simon Mather, said he was totally shocked at the win, as the group of finalists were “just phenomenal”.

The other finalists in the category, which was open to funds with less than $5 billion in assets, were EISS Super, Intrust Super and Kinetic Super.

“To be up against some of the really great peers in the industry it is phenomenal. I am so happy,” Mather said.

He added he was proud of how the AustSafe team had made it easier for employers to select the fund as the default choice.

“We been able to be in very regional parts of Australia, where some of the funds have been unable to have people there,” he said.

The AustSafe team has been working across a number of mediums, including TV adverts in the regions, to connect with members.

“We are a small fund, but the fact is when you get something like this award you feel like you are actually making a difference to your members.”

Mather added as a small fund AustSafe could make meaningful allocations to small strategies – particularly small cap stocks – and that this had been successful for them.

A 2016 study by Centre for International Finance and Regulation research director Geoff Warren found smaller funds were better placed to effectively deploy capital into small cap stocks to generate outsized returns – an area that would not turn the dial for a mega-fund.

“I have been with the fund for nearly five years over which time we’ve doubled in assets. It’s about cash flow in, strong performance and we got some great people working there. We are a small fund, but the fact is when you get something like this you feel like you are actually making a difference to your members,” Mather said.

AustSafe relies heavily on its asset consultant, Jana, to assist with its investments. Mather described them as a partner in the fund’s investment process.

“We have monthly investment committee meetings with them. It’s a real collaborative approach to managing our investments,” he said.

View the full list of winners across all 12 categories.

More than $86,000 was raised for the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017  charity partner The Wayside Chapel at the gala dinner to announce the winners in Sydney on March 9.  To donate to Wayside click here.

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