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Industry funds battle to break adviser bonds

Industry super funds are under pressure from the close relationships between financial advisers and self-managed superannuation trustees, an industry fund executive has admitted.

Asked whether SMSF trustees may be coaxed back into industry and retail funds at the retirement phase, Equipsuper executive officer of strategic marketing and communications Geoff Brooks told ifa that the strong bond between trustees and external advisers makes the prospect more difficult.

“It depends on the relationship they have got external to the fund and [whether they] have been with a financial planner or an accountant for years,” he said.

Communications campaigns initiated by industry funds aimed at stemming the flow of members to the SMSF sector cannot compete with the “trusted relationship” many people have with their financial adviser, Brooks said.

“It is very hard to break that down,” he added.

More broadly, Brooks spoke of the increasing pressure felt by industry funds due to the rise of the SMSF sector – which now accounts for a third of all superannuation assets in Australia, according to the Australian Tax Office.

“I think it would be disingenuous to say it is not affecting us,” he conceded. “It is affecting most funds – most industry funds – to some degree.”

He also said the establishment of an internal fund financial planning unit was partly in response to the growth of SMSFs.

“In part to address the potential leakage out of the fund to SMSF at retirement stage, we have set up a financial planning business,” he said.

“That has given us the capacity to offer advice right through to the factual advice at the helpline service level, right through to full service financial advice.”