Best of the Best 2024: Best Balanced Super Products
First Super has been named Money's Best Balanced Super Product as part of the Best of the Best awards.
Strong investment returns, good communication and positive member support
Selecting the right mix of investments over the long term is key for a superannuation fund.
This year's winner, First Super, enjoyed outperformance by three asset classes, managed by active managers: Australian shares, international shares and global infrastructure.
Bill Watson, First Super's CEO, says the international infrastructure was a standout, returning much more than its benchmark. The fund is advised by asset consultant, Frontier Advisors, about strategic and tactical asset allocation.
First Super, originally set up for the furniture and joinery, pulp and paper and timber industries, is a public offer fund, open for everyone.
"We are seeing a bigger cohort of younger members joining the Fund, as well as New Zealanders bringing over their KiwiSaver balances," says Watson.
He says that one of First Super's strengths is offering members a highly personalised, positive member service.
"Superannuation is complex and requires people to make major choices about their financial future. This complexity can be a barrier to people taking action when it can have the greatest impact on their retirement savings. Sometimes you just can't beat having that helpful, in-person assistance, particularly if it involves making important decisions about your money," explains Watson.
Watson says First Super sees itself as a fund for regional Australia, with local coordinators based across the nation. The coordinators answer the phone to members who need support and guidance a lot faster than other funds.
"In the last financial year, the average call wait time was just 49 seconds," says Watson. "We also offer superannuation and retirement health checks, and personal advice through our financial planners. Our members don't pay extra for personal advice about their First Super account - we only charge extra for personal advice that goes beyond their account with us."
Watson says that providing communication in plain, clear language has become even more crucial as Australians are now 'stapled' to one super fund as they move jobs over their careers.
"Funds have fewer chances to attract and retain members. It's crucial we differentiate the fund by understanding of our members' needs and providing the type of support they want. We are currently seeing good levels of member satisfaction with our service, which bodes well for the future."
Insurance premiums are cheaper for members in the default option this year, saving members $22.88 a year.
"This saving goes directly into their super account. However, we are not done on insurance and are continuing to review our benefit design over the next year," says Watson.
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