2024 Honours List congratulations

Nicole Oborne has been honoured for her service to the financial sector and the community receiving a medal for the Order of Australia (OAM) on the 2024 Honours List.

Nicole’s financial sector expertise includes her role as partner at PwC Australia, her work with ASFA in a variety of roles, and as Chairperson for Retirement Savings Centre of Excellence – CPA Australia and many other areas.

Nicole has also been recognised for her involvement as a Non-Executive Director for the Mother’s Day Classic (MDC) Foundation, the largest charitable fun run and walk across Australia, raising funds and awareness for breast and ovarian cancer research.

Lorraine Berends is another esteemed Australian with close ties to ASFA honoured on the list and received her member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Lorraine has a long history with ASFA including as National Board Chair 2002-2005, National Director 1997-2009, various positions in NSW State Committee, former Chair of National Conference Committee and 2009 Life Member award recipient.

ASFA congratulates Nicole and Lorraine for their achievements and the acknowledgment last week.

Super funds deliver strong 2023 result

Despite 2023’s challenging economic and geopolitical climate, Chant West reports that super funds have delivered a strong calendar year result for their members with the median growth fund (61 to 80% in growth assets) up 9.9%. The return erases the entire 4.6% loss from 2022 and represents the 11th positive return in the past 12 years.

The FY23 return is also well ahead of the typical long-term return objective of just over 6% per annum.

Chant West Senior Investment Research Manager, Mano Mohankumar, says that strong share markets have been the main driver of the 2023 result.

“International shares was the standout asset class with a tremendous 23% return over the year, led by the tech sector which benefitted from advancements in AI. While Australian shares didn’t reach the same level, it still delivered a healthy 12.1% over the same period.”

Mohankumar says that while super funds had a terrific 2023 with a median return of 9.9%, that level of return shouldn’t be thought of as normal.

“The typical long-term return objective for growth funds is to beat inflation by 3.5% per annum, which translates to just over 6% per annum. Since the introduction of compulsory super, the annualised return is 7.9% and the annual CPI increase is 2.7%, giving a real return of 5.2% p.a. – well above that 3.5% target. Even looking at the past 20 years, which includes three major share market downturns – the GFC in 2007-2009, COVID-19 in 2020 and the high inflation and rising interest rates in 2022 – super funds have returned 7.3% per annum, which is still comfortably ahead of the typical objective.”

AMP and TAL partnership announcement

AMP has announced it has appointed TAL as its new default and retail insurance provider for AMP Superannuation Fund members, including its flagship SignatureSuper offer.

Members’ best financial interests were at the centre of AMP’s move to appoint TAL, with the decision following an extensive tender process. AMP’s superannuation members will be transitioned to TAL in Q2 2024.

AMP General Manager – Master Trust, David Clark, was delighted to announce this new partnership with TAL and noted that: “We also expect to improve member engagement through TAL’s health and wellbeing program promoting preventative education, rewards, return to work rehab services, early intervention, and mental health support.”

TAL Chief Executive – Group Life & Retirement, Jenny Oliver, said: “Together with AMP, we are excited by the opportunity to uplift the life insurance experience for more than 270,000 Australians.”

Iress launces new community platform

Iress has launched Advisely a free community platform for financial advisers, paraplanners and practice managers aiming to support advisers, paraplanners and practice managers to streamline and improve their advice practices to increase efficiency, profitability and scale

Iress’ Executive General Manager for Wealth, Kelli Willmer, said: “Through our conversations with clients, and our own research, we know one of the biggest areas of opportunity for advice professionals is the ability to boost productivity through smarter ways of working.

The new platform aims to provide a community of expertise and support for those working in advice where Willmer said it can be hard to know where to get help.

The impact of a thriving workplace

Workplace mental health organisation SuperFriend has released its 9th annual Indicators of a Thriving Workplace report, a survey on workplace mental health encompassing 10,000 Australian workers across 19 industries. 

The research benchmarks the state of workplace mental health and wellbeing in Australia and some of the 2023 key findings include: 

  • 41% of leaders are struggling to manage change.
  • 49% of Australian workers have experienced a major organisational change in the past 12 months, and with the rising cost of living pressures, it is more important than ever for organisations to prioritise mental health practices in the face of increasing turbulence and uncertainty.
  • 46% of participants who identified as having a mental health condition said their workplace has either caused or exacerbated their condition.
  • In contrast, 11% of people with a mental health condition said work had a positive impact on their mental health.
  • Those who viewed their workplace as positively influencing their mental health reported a leadership score almost 20 points higher than those who said their workplace made it worse, highlighting the significant correlation between strong leadership and mental health.

 SuperFriend CEO Darren Black said: “With almost half (49%) of Australian workers experiencing a major organisational change in the past 12 months, and with the rising cost of living pressures, it is more important than ever for organisations to prioritise mental health practices in the face of increasing turbulence and uncertainty.”