Why super funds led by women are among the best in Australia


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The power of female leadership in super funds comes together when an above-average number of female trustees combine with women at the top of the corporate ladder, according to new research from Rainmaker Information.

"Super funds led by women are among the best in Australia. Having women in your super fund's senior leadership is one of the best indicators you've chosen a smart, well-run fund that is highly likely to be successful," says Alex Dunnin, director of research at Rainmaker Information, which publishes Money.

Rainmaker's research found that MySuper products with significant female leadership outperformed male-led MySuper products by 0.6% pa over three years and 0.4% pa over five years.

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"This is not insignificant when the gap between the highest and lowest paying fees is around 1% per annum. For a fund returning 0.5% per annum on top of someone else it turns out to be quite a lot of money," says Dunnin.

"Over a member's working life, this could boost super savings by 24% or $100,000 for an average income worker."

Rainmaker categorised MySuper products as having significant fund leadership if they have a higher than average proportion of women as trustees and have either a woman as chair or chief executive.

"What was interesting was that the number of female trustees on its own has no impact in itself but then combined with the chair, CEO or deputy CEO, it ignites something," says Dunnin.

He attributes these results to the hard economic edge of diversity.

"It also reinforces the huge amount of other research published the world over that shows the more diverse a fund or company's leadership is, the more laterally thinking, open to new ideas and innovative they seem to be."

Research from Macquarie Business School found women are superior leaders and the companies they run tend to outperform those with men at the top.

Macquarie Business School department of actuarial studies and business analytics lecturer Farida Akhtar conducted research into the issue of gender performance at the top of corporations. She found companies with female chief executives perform better.

"And the same goes for companies with a substantial female representation on their boards," she says.

"Firms with a critical mass of females on the board (three or more) have a stronger corporate culture with regards to their intangible assets, including employees," Akhtar says.

"Females are fundamentally different from males and bring unique demographic skills. They nurture their employees more. They create better reward systems and greater flexibility.

"Companies in high technology industries and those with unique products that are scarce in the market tend to do better with female CEOs. Success in research and development (R&D) is highly prized in these companies and female directors can shape innovation and sustainable growth strategies."

Akhtar also says the market favours women because they are more likely to listen to the market.

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Julia Newbould is one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.
Mike Richards
March 14, 2020 6.38pm

Really ? Well, I can tell you that I've had great bosses and lousy bosses, and that includes both men and women. Best boss I had was a lady publican (pub owner). Worst boss I had was a woman who was a Director and in her 18 month tenure, made everyone so miserable that half the workplace left. My current two managers (one female and one male) dosn't understand me, how to relate to me or what is important in my personal or working life, yet I have a male "higher up" boss who is great and another female line manager who takes the effort and time to be interested in me and my work.

It's not "being a man or a woman" that makes you a good boss. It's your personality and character. You can't necessarily say that it's because of gender.

Likewise, men versus women at investing; sometimes you need the Yin-Yang; the male aggression to gear into a market at the right time and the female nuture aspect to grow it and pay down some loans when required.

Mike Richards
March 14, 2020 9.45pm

Women as managers - there are some good ones (like my boss who ran a pub, she was hard but very fair) but let me tell you about one woman manager that I had who was a complete misandrist. Anytime there was heavy, dirty work to do, it was always "oh, the 'boys' can do that work" and she refused to do it or let any of the female members do it. If something went wrong, it was always "oh, it was a man who must have done that".

Try also her comments about high level, national meetings that were "It was all 'men' sat around talking as they do" and then mentioned a name - "oh, 'that man' " with a look of scorn on her face.

She openly despised the male members of her team. Yeah, great way to endear them to you and get the best from them.

These comments were accepted and she was made allowances for, "because years ago, she had been through a marriage breakup and had to be a single mum". Can you REALLY imagine a man being allowed to get away with comments like that above about women ?!

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