A mix of retail, public-sector and industry funds have been shortlisted for offering the best general and personal advice to members in the 2018 Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards, to be announced on March 8.

Judges for the Best Advice Offering category, now in its second year, have named AustralianSuper, First State Super, QSuper, Sunsuper, UniSuper and VicSuper finalists for their high-quality general and personal advice services.

Last year’s inaugural winner, tertiary education industry fund UniSuper, is back in the running after building on its offering, which included issuing 3300 Statements of Advice in the previous financial year. The fund provides free general advice through seminars, over the phone and on its website, along with personal advice for a fee through 47 qualified advisers.

There are multiple access points to the advice, including digital channels such as the ‘find an adviser’ tool, the fund stated.

NSW public-sector fund First State Super’s Personal Super recently overhauled advice delivery through its 53 comprehensive financial planners, two risk specialists and two aged-care specialists.

“All advice conversations are now consistent and are centred on a member’s lifestyle goals,” a fund spokesman says. “We are now the largest member-owned financial planning network, which gives our members access to financial planners across a broad network of regional and metropolitan offices.”

Queensland’s QSuper invested in its contact centre last year to improve access to advice for members.

“This focus on providing convenient and scalable advice solutions allowed us to deliver more than 21,000 advice documents last financial year, helping members towards financial wellbeing,” chief of member experience Jason Murray says. “We also enhanced our online advice platform to offer end-to-end compliant advice with real-time Statement of Advice production, and immediate implementation of some advice types.”

Brisbane-based multi-industry fund Sunsuper says any members seeking comprehensive personal advice are referred to an accredited external adviser in a capital city or major regional area.

The fund offers free general advice and charges a fee-for-service for personalised advice; the average fee is $1750 across its membership. Most external advisers have more than 10 years’ experience, while 88 call-centre staff are qualified to provide general advice, a Sunsuper spokesman says.

VicSuper’s FutureSaver has 19 locations across Victoria where in-house financial planners can give comprehensive advice. A Melbourne-based advice call centre receives an average of 430 calls a day.

VicSuper has expanded its personal superannuation and retirement planning advice to include a more holistic financial planning solution, employing two experienced and certified planners to provide advice complementary to super.

“This year has been a terrific year for us,” marketing operations manager Narelle Turnock says. “We’ve expanded our education and advice services and created Beeline, our new online guidance and robo-advice tool.

“The reaction has just been fantastic. After only a few months, we’ve seen about 2 per cent of our entire member base already jumping on board, creating their own personalised dashboard and getting the advice they need to really make a difference –10 per cent of users are electing to receive an online Statement of Advice.”

The nation’s largest industry fund, AustralianSuper, has 20 internal financial planners and 760 accredited external advisers to cater to its membership base of 2 million.

AustralianSuper head of advice and education, Shane Hancock, says the fund’s advice is “channel agnostic”, allowing members to access superannuation and retirement advice by phone, in person or via a selected group of external advisers.

“By partnering with selected external advisers, AustralianSuper can also connect members to individual advisers to meet their broader and deeper advice needs,” Hancock says.

The 2018 Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards are sponsored by event partner AIA Australia. All the winners will be announced at a special black-tie event on March 8 at the Ivy Ballroom, Sydney. Tickets are now available. To book, click here.

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