UniSuper won the prestigious title of Fund of the Year at the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017.

Funds do not nominate for Fund of the Year, rather the judges select an overall winner from all 11 categories.

The award rounded off a fruitful evening for the $57.5 billion super fund for higher education workers, as it also took home Best Insurance Offering, Best Advice Offering, and Default Fund of the Year.

The Fund of the Year award recognised the fund’s commitment to offering the best service to members.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recorded a video message to announce UniSuper as the winner.

“There was a lot of debate in the selection committee because there are so many outstanding funds. But the winners has shown leadership in member services, good fund governance, fund design and performance,” the Prime Minister said.

“Congratulations UniSuper and congratulations to all the winners and all the finalists.”

In his video message the Prime Minister also encouraged those at the gala dinner to support the event’s charity partner The Wayside Chapel.

UniSuper chair Chris Cuffe commended all the other finalists, saying it was nice to be first in this particular category, but “it wouldn’t be by a long stretch” as UniSuper was just one in a cluster of very good super funds.

“Each year, each of the industry funds have excelled at one thing or another,” he said.

“For UniSuper, we have a very strong view that you have to push and negotiate the cost down, because that is something you can control. We are trying to use our economies of scale as an advantage.”

Member services was another part of the fund of which he was particularly proud, alongside an investment team that has delivered top quartile results over three, five, seven and 10 years.

Challenges ahead

Cuffe added it was important those in the industry never lose sight of “the gift” that it was to work in the superannuation system.

“Every year you come to these awards, and the industry is inching forward, every year organisations seem to have gone that extra mile,” he said. “Not only is a fantastic privilege to work in this industry, it is a fantastic group result. But don’t forget how lucky we are in this industry to have this responsibility.”

Despite the gathered super funds successes, Cuffe saw major challenges ahead for the sector.

At the top of his list of obstacles to overcome were communicating the benefits of superannuation to an increasingly worried public and delivering effective incomes in retirement to members.

“It is ahead of us to prove that this has been a good regime for Australia. We probably have to get through a full generation of compulsory super before that is really seen, but if we stop along the way we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”

“We’ve still got plenty of work to do ahead of us, particularly in getting people to recognise what is adequate for them in retirement because we have a lump sum oriented superannuation society, but we have to move towards an income orientated focus, and we haven’t been very good at presenting this picture in a simple way.”

The other finalists in the Fund of the Year category were Cbus, MTAA Super, and QSuper; all of which won in other categories.

See the full list of winners across all 12 categories here

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

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