A joint Fund of the Year award for merger partners Sunsuper and Kinetic Super highlighted how the Small Fund of the Year winner is going out on a high note.

At the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2018, it was revealed that for the first time in the event’s six-year history, the judges had bestowed the prestigious overall prize upon joint winners.

Sunsuper had earlier taken home Large Fund of the Year (for funds with more than $10 billion or in assets), while Kinetic had already won Small Fund of the Year (for funds with less than $5 billion in assets) and Best Insurance Offering.

The joint winners of Fund of the Year are in the final stages of pulling off their merger; it’s due to be completed by mid-May 2018.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull bestowed the honour, via video, during a gala awards dinner at Ivy Ballroom in Sydney on March 8. Turnbull congratulated Kinetic Super and Sunsuper, and paid tribute to them and all the other winners and finalists, thanking them, “for their contribution to making Australia’s superannuation system even better”.

Sunsuper chief executive Scott Hartley said it was a “great honour” and thanked the judges for recognising “two great funds coming together”.

Kinetic Super chief executive Katherine Kaspar agreed.

“I’m feeling very emotional right now because this is Kinetic’s final year, it’s our last hurrah and we are really going out with a bang,” she told the crowd after the fund won Small Fund of the Year. “This is validation that we are continuing to meet the needs of our members with low fees, solid investment returns and a world-class service offering, including our insurance offering. It is fair to say our metrics have never been better.”

Bold decision for members

Kaspar said the awards highlighted that the fund’s board members had made the bold decision to merge even though Kinetic’s good performance metrics meant they didn’t have to do so.

“It was an honourable decision to…get even better benefits [for our members] and therein assist them in getting better retirement outcomes through a merger with Sunsuper,” she said.

She said Sunsuper shared Kinetic’s values, respected its heritage and was committed to serving its members.

Kaspar gave a heartfelt thanks to the entire Kinetic team.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your unwavering dedication, hard work and resilience in an intense change environment,” she said. “Every single one of you is a winner. I’d also like to thank the board, led by our esteemed chair Frank Gullone, for their courage. Your selflessness, to give up your roles to facilitate this merger for the benefit of your members, is the ultimate gift. May you carry this with pride throughout your years.”

Hartley said getting to know the Kinetic board and executives through the merger team had shown them to be “extraordinary”.

“It has been clear to us that there is a lot of alignment of values and purpose,” he said. “This is going to be a merger of two great funds.”

Hartley also thanked the Sunsuper trustees and staff, saying the awards reflected a transformation the organisation has been through over the last couple of years.


Click here to see a full list of all the winners >>

About the awards

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked all the winners and finalists for their contribution to making Australia’s superannuation system “even better”.

“There are few industries that have such significant and far-reaching effects on people’s lives,” Turnbull said. “One of the important ways we can build a better superannuation system is by encouraging and awarding innovation and excellence…Tonight’s awards do just that.”

While there are many other awards nights on the industry calendar, the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards are unique in that they are not aligned with a research or ratings house, and do not charge funds to participate. Actuarial and consulting firm Rice Warner assists with quantitative analysis.

The judging committee comprises California State Teachers’ Retirement System chief investment officer Chris Ailman, Fund Executives Association Ltd (FEAL) chief executive Joanna Davison, CHOICE chief executive Alan Kirkland, Financial Services Council chief executive Sally Loane, Rice Warner chief executive Michael Rice, and former minister for financial services and superannuation, the Hon. Bernie Ripoll.

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority deputy chair Helen Rowell is a special adviser to the judging committee, which remains the only truly independent awards panel in the sector.

“APRA views sound governance practices as fundamental to the delivery of value for money outcomes for members,” Rowell says. “I was, therefore very pleased to see the steps taken by the judging panel this year to enhance the approach to assessing governance and give it more weight in determining the winners in various categories.”

The 2018 Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards are produced with thanks to platinum sponsor AIA Australia and event partner FEAL.

“AIA is honoured to sponsor the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards, because we feel this is a great way of recognising the important work funds do, looking after millions of members,” AIA Australia head of corporate and master trust clients Anthony Clough said.

“As a purpose-led organisation, AIA has a partnership philosophy at the heart of our business, and funds are amongst our most important partners in the industry.”

VIEW: Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2018 photo gallery 

Nearly $50,000 was raised on the night for the event’s charity partner The Wayside Chapel. Conexus Financial would like to thank guests for their generosity. If you would like to add to the tally, you can still donate via The Wayside Chapel website.

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