AustralianSuper extends olive branch

Industry fund AustralianSuper has signalled its intention to further its collaboration with external financial planning groups as it moves to a holistic wealth management mindset in the future.

Having dabbled in partnerships with external advice groups such as Matrix Planning Solutions and NAB-aligned Godfrey Pembroke, AustralianSuper general manager of operations Shawn Blackmore says the industry fund is on the hunt for more collaborative opportunities.

“I think there is definitely greater opportunity for advisers – what we have traditionally called ‘external advisers’ – to work together with industry funds,” Mr Blackmore told the 13th annual Wraps, Platforms and Masterfunds conference in the Hunter Valley last week.

“There is technology available that breaks down barriers – we can have model portfolios, we can have advisers deduct fees from members’ account balances to pay for services – and our referral panel is looking at these opportunities currently.”

Mr Blackmore said that is has taken a long time for industry funds to bury the hatchet and develop prosperous relationships with retail advisers – sometimes “learning the hard way” – but that consumers are demanding a collaborative approach.

“We are seeing a tidal wave of baby boomer members who need advice,” he said. “In order to maximise their retirement outcomes they need quality advice.”

The comments follow the establishment of a trial panel to discuss collaboration opportunities in 2011, with representatives of Matrix, Godfrey Pembroke, Dixon Advisory, Woods & Partners, Switzer Financial Planning and Paul Moran taking part in the trial.

At that time , AustralianSuper chief executive Ian Silk asked “is the war over?” pointing to the trial panel of external groups as evidence of a new strategy that is complimentary to its existing call centre advice services and intra-fund financial planning.

However, earlier this year the Industry Super Network issued a statement indicating financial planning is not a “true profession” and clients require more protection, while in June ISN acting chief executive Matthew Linden criticised financial advisers for allegedly leaving FOFA preparation to the “last minute”.

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