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Message from the CEO, Bill Watson

January 14th, 2016

As we enter 2016 in earnest, it’s a good time to look back on the year just passed – our successes, changes and plans for the future.

First Super continued our Board renewal process in 2015. This was led by the departure of Lindsay Morling in February, who will be greatly missed.

In his place, Julie George – known to many of us as the Director of ForestWorks – is our new Employer Director, while Candy Broad has joined as an Independent Director.

In 2015, we strove to ensure our members received face-to-face advice from qualified financial personnel, in locations convenient to them. We also introduced free over the phone advice via our Service Centre for the first time, and reintroduced our members’ seminars.

As for upgrades – our new and improved logo was received well by members, while our IT system was greatly improved, to the benefit of our members. We’re also looking forward to introducing better transactional capabilities in 2016.

Happily, our members were more aware of their ability to claim death, total and permanent disability and income protection insurance in 2015, and as a result many members received much-needed payouts. Unfortunately, as this number was higher than we expected, First Super was forced to increase premiums to meet with the demand. We are working to create a more stable insurance environment in this area and will keep our members and employers informed as we go.

As for investment performance; First Super enjoyed another year of above-target returns, with a nine per cent return on balanced super for the financial year ending 30 June 2015. This means members in the default option have received an annual three-year return of 11.5%.

While we hope it won’t be the case, 2016 looks less certain for returns, with the Australian stock market affected by China’s slowing growth amongst other things. Our Board is reviewing its investment strategy in light of the economic slowing, and will inform our members and employers of any changes.

In other unfortunate news, the Federal Government scrapped the Low Income Superannuation Contribution Scheme in 2015, and has indicated it will force funds to appoint more directors who don’t have any links with their industries. We feel this is a poor decision, as super members deserve to be looked after by people committed to their specific industry.

In better news, we appointed BNP Paribas as our new custodian and unit service provider, replacing NAB Asset Servicing. As a result, the cost of this service has decreased, and we believe we are better able to manage investment risk.

We hope this update has provided useful insight into First Super’s achievements in 2015, as well as the opportunities and challenges our Fund and the Industry Super movement face at present and in the future.


Bill Watson