Sunsuper has taken home the Large Fund of the Year prize at the 2018 Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards.

AIA Australia head of corporate and master trust clients, Anthony Clough, presented the award to Sunsuper chief executive Scott Hartley at a black-tie gala dinner held at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney on March 8.

Hartley said the win was a reflection of the transformation the organisation has been through, from the board through to member services.

He said higher standards across the industry made it critical for Sunsuper to improve its offering.

“Members are more engaged with their superannuation and they are making choices,” he said. “The new basis for competition is online; it’s data, it’s digital and it’s the member experience. We are seeing that in the work we’re doing, in the stats, and it’s really exciting. This is the stuff that will make a difference to people’s retirement outcomes.”

Other finalists in the Large Fund of the Year Category (for funds with more than $10 billion in assets) were: AustralianSuper, HESTA, QSuper, Sunsuper, TelstraSuper and UniSuper.

Clough said the final scores were “very close” after the judging committee assessed finalists by comparing competitiveness of fees, quality of member services, strength of investments and the standard of the funds’ pension offerings.

“As you might imagine, identifying the best large fund was one of the most difficult decisions to make in this year’s awards,” Clough said. “Each entry in this category was excellent. Close analysis of the entries revealed that no single fund was able to lead in every assessment criteria.”

He said Sunsuper emerged as the leading contender due to its superb member services and flexible, high-performing investments.

Later in the evening, Sunsuper and its merger partner Kinetic Super were jointly awarded the coveted overall prize for Fund of the Year.


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.