WEEKLY WRAP: PEOPLE, PRODUCTS AND COMPANIES - BT plans to dominate super

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BT plans to dominate super

BT Financial Group (BTFG) has announced the appointment of Vicki Doyle as head of retail and corporate superannuation.

The appointment is part of BTFG’s strategy to maximise the super opportunity and capture the lion’s share of the super industry.

“Superannuation has been called out as core to the Westpac Group’s strategy, given its critical importance in helping Australian’s prepare for a better retirement and the expected growth in the industry,” general manager of superannuation Deanne Stewart said.

“The super opportunity is a must-win category for our business and a key part of this is delivering to customers in the early accumulation stage through Retail and Corporate Super.”

Doyle will be responsible for the development and the management of business strategy, product, marketing and distribution strategy to help grow funds under management and market share.

Doyle will join BTFG in early 2013 from Suncorp where her most recent role was executive general manager, direct customers.

New life insurance tool

TAL Retail Life has introduced a number of inoovations to its Accelerated Protection life insurance product.

TAL’s system now gives advisers the ability to obtain instant quotes online for existing Accelerated Protection policies.

“As an industry we have let ourselves down for years,” said TAL Retail Life CEO Brett Clark. “An enormous amount of work has taken place at point of sale making it easier for advisers and customers to get cover. However, very little thought has been given as to how to efficiently manage customers after the initial sale as their needs inevitably change.

“We have introduced online functionality that now enables advisers to efficiently quote and manage existing customer policies in real time. The online capability will make it so much easier for advisers to manage their customers’ polices and adjust insurance cover to suit needs over time.”

In another leading offer, TAL’s flagship life insurance product Accelerated Protection now provides level premiums to the age of 70 for life cover, with premiums guaranteed not to increase until then.

New small cap fund launched

Acorn Capital has launched a new Asian small cap strategy, which will invest in small listed companies in Asia (excluding Japan). 

 Acorn Capital, Australia’s largest microcap investment manager, spent three years researching the Asian small cap market before the launch of the AU Acorn Capital Asia Small Cap Fund.

 The fund seeks to exploit inefficiencies in the pricing of small cap stocks in the Asian region, with the aim of outperforming the MSCI AC Asia (ex Japan) Small Cap Index (A$) over rolling five-year periods.

Its investment universe is small companies that fall into the 85th to 99th percentile by market capitalisation in Asia (ex Japan), listed on stock exchanges in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

ipac announces plans to integrate Tynan Mackenzie

ipac has announced it will bring Tynan Mackenzie under the ipac brand to provide greater scale and form a stronger more efficient business.

The integration will see the Tynan Mackenzie brand transition out of the market over the course of 2013.

ipac Managing Director Neil Swindells said integrating the Tynan Mackenzie business with ipac would deliver benefits to advisers and clients.

“This decision has been made as part of an ongoing review to ensure we’re providing the best advice proposition for both our advisers and clients,” he said.

“Clients can continue to expect the same high level of service offered by both ipac and Tynan Mackenzie, but with the benefit of increased scale, supported by a strong business model that is well positioned for the future.”

The integration of the two businesses will see it servicing more than 45,000 clients and providing advice on more than $10bn in funds under advice.

Tynan Mackenzie CEO Paul Robertson will remain on the ipac leadership team and will sit on a committee set up to manage the transition of the Tynan Mackenzie business to ipac.

Tynan Mackenzie was wholly acquired by AXA Asia Pacific Holdings in 2006, and became part of the wider AMP group as part of its integration with AXA APH in 2010.

Tynan Mackenzie has 37 employed advisers across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, servicing over 4,400 clients.

Sychron storms ahead in WA

Synchron has grown its Western Australian presence 50% in just 12 weeks since the appointment of WA financial services executive, Bernie Fernandes, to the role of WA State Manager.

“Bernie was appointed in September 2012 to lead our WA expansion, and has done an exemplary job so far,” said Synchron Director Don Trapnell. “In three short months he has helped us grow from 14 to 21 advisers. These seven applications are now being processed at head office and a further nine are anticipated between now and the end of December.”

Synchron is looking to replicate its success in Queensland, where the number of advice businesses under the Synchron umbrella increased from 12 to 65 in five years.

“Bernie is quietly confident that he will be able to meet our goal to grow to 32 practices by the end of the year and we are putting our resources behind him,” said Trapnell.

New role at Zurich

Zurich’s Life and Investments business in Australia has appointed Julie McCormack to the newly created role of Head of Strategy and Distribution, Direct Insurance, effective January 2013.

The creation of this role follows a recent strategic review which reinforced Zurich’s continuing commitment within the Life and Investments business to driving strong growth in this market segment.

In this role, Ms McCormack will be responsible for broadening the direct footprint and strengthening the integration of direct within Zurich’s multi-channel strategy. In her new role she will report to Philip Kewin, GM Retail Life and Investments.

In announcing the appointment, Mr Kewin said “the rapid growth of direct has been given extra impetus by the recent FOFA legislative changes, which have created a need for solutions which better fit within a scaled advice proposition”.

“The direct segment is evolving, as more and more advisers see direct solutions as a complement to their proposition, rather than a competitor,” he added.

Mark Smith starts as group exec Perpetual Private

Mark Smith has assumed his role as the group executive of Perpetual Private, the wealth advice business of Perpetual Limited that includes the Private Client, Fiduciary, Fordham and Philanthropy offerings. Smith was appointed earlier in the year and will take over from acting group executive Nick Langton, who will revert to his role of GM Private Client Advice.

Perpetual CEO Geoff Lloyd welcomed Smith to the company, noting that he was joining Perpetual at an important stage in its history.

“With our Transformation 2015 strategy now well underway and the Perpetual Private business building a truly differentiated high net worth offer, Mark’s considerable experience will provide the leadership team with invaluable insight into how we can extract greater benefits from our strong market position,” he said.

“Throughout 2012, the Perpetual Private team, under the guidance of Nick, has continued to pursue a number of initiatives to build on the scale and advocacy we have within the wealth advice business, as well as extend into new activities where we hold a competitive advantage.”

CommSec announces major restructure

Core Equity Services and Colonial Geared Investments come together under a new name – CommSec Adviser Services. This move allows CommSec Adviser Services to bring together and enhance the unique strengths of the two existing brands.

“We are excited by this change as it will enable us to further integrate our products and better support our clients.  Whilst we already have great functionality available, this next step in our evolution will allow us to continue to enhance our service offering.  It’s our intention that CommSec Adviser Services will be the market leading provider of investment services to Australian financial intermediaries,” said Executive General Manager Equities and Margin Lending Stephen Karpin.

“CommSec Adviser Services marks a consolidation of products and services that will benefit advisers by providing them with a single point of contact for service and support.  The change also allows us, for the first time, to combine information and logins for our trading, margin lending, cash, debt optimisation, portfolio administration and investment advice products into one site, making it easier for advisers to find what they’re looking for faster.

“By speaking to our customers about the potential change, we discovered there was a significant appetite for an alignment of Core Equity Services and Colonial Geared Investments under the one brand, with some customers reporting that it would drive them to do more business with us.”

Global equity income fund launched

Certitude Global Investments has announced the launch of the Threadneedle Global Equity Income Fund, an Australian registered investment management scheme which invests in the actively managed Threadneedle Global Equity Income Fund. The fund is the latest addition to Certitude’s range of actively managed investment funds in Australia.

“Threadneedle is one of Europe’s leading active fund managers and we are pleased that our partnership is going from strength to strength through the addition of the Fund,” said Certitude CEO Craig Mowll.

“Interest rates and bond yields are at historically low levels and Australian investors are increasingly looking for income. We think the fund will tick all the boxes by offering an attractive and stable income stream with the potential for capital appreciation over the longer term.

“Further, it provides Australian investors with the ability to diversify their portfolio with income producing assets.”

FPA award winners announced

The Financial Planning Association (FPA) has recognised the top tier of financial planners in Australia by announcing the national winners of the 2012 Best Practice Awards in Melbourne.

These awards acknowledge some of Australia’s best financial planners, the positive contribution they make to the financial future of Australians and the superior outcomes achieved for their clients.

National winners were chosen from all State winners and were announced at the 2012 Victorian State Awards ceremony in Melbourne, as all three national winners came from Victoria this year.

Michelle Tate-Lovery CFP, Unified Financial Services, Cartlon, has been awarded both the Victorian as well as the National FPA CFP Professional Best Practice Award. This award recognises worthy CFP professionals who have demonstrated the highest professional standards embodied by an FPA member. 

Shane Lenehan AFP, Silvan Ridge Financial Services, Warrnambool, has been awarded both the Victorian and National FPA Financial Planner AFP Best Practice Award. This award is designed to encourage and recognise the achievements of AFP professional planners who reflect a commitment to both excellence and professional development.

Mark O’Leary CFP, Eluvia, Melbourne, has been awarded both the Victorian and National Future2 Community Service Best Practice Award. This award goes to an adviser who has, in a pro bono or public service capacity, made an outstanding contribution to improving the circumstances of the most socially excluded or financially disadvantaged members of the community.

Recommended rating for EQT fund

Lonsec has rated Equity Trustees Limited’s (EQT) Australian equities fund, the EQT Wholesale Flagship Fund, for the first time, giving the fund a ‘recommended’ rating.

In its report, Lonsec made particular reference of the stability and experience of the EQT team, led by Shaun Manuell, its risk management process and the fund’s long-term performance as reasons for the high rating.

“A positive feature of the Fund’s historical performance has been the observed levels of absolute volatility (as measured by standard deviation) being consistently lower [than its peer group],” said the report.

“Lonsec believes the EQT research process is well structured and consistent with the objective of uncovering the long term value drivers of a company. Lonsec draws additional comfort from the heritage of the application of the EQT process, having not changed since 2003, and its foundation in conservative style funds management.” 

AIST CEO scores UN job

The Financial Services Council has congratulated AIST CEO Fiona Reynolds on her appointment as MD of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing (UNPRI).

“This is a wonderful recognition of Fiona’s skills and talents. The FSC congratulates her on this prestigious appointment,” said FSC CEO John Brogden.

“Fiona’s appointment is also recognition of the significance of Australia’s superannuation system on the world stage.”

“I know Fiona will continue to be an advocate for our superannuation system in her new role.”

“FSC looks forward to building on our strong relationship with AIST under her successor.”

TAL revenue up 9%

Results, released by TAL’s Japanese parent, Dai-ichi Life, show that TAL’s revenue on a Japanese GAAP reported basis rose 9% to $1.195bn for the six months to 31 September 2012 compared to the same period the year before.

The business’s net profit after tax increased 8% to $68m for the period compared to the 2011 half year result.

“The underlying profit and growth figures are impressive given the continuing tough business climate,” said TAL MD Jim Minto.

“TAL continues to implement its strategy of developing a multi-channel distribution model to ensure we meet constantly changing customer and partner needs.”

Australian Ethical announces 67% profit boost

Australian Ethical Investment has provided an earnings guidance to the Australian Securities Exchange advising that its expected profit for the six months to 31 December 2012 would be approximately a 67% increase on the prior corresponding period.

“This has been a year of considerable change for Australian Ethical as we have made a number of improvements to our business to make our products more competitive, aligned with market standards and better positioned for what continues to be a very challenging environment for the foreseeable future,” said Phillip Vernon, Managing Director of Australian Ethical.

“It was pleasing to have these efforts recognised recently by SuperRatings who gave our Super Fund the Rising Star Award at their recent awards night”.

“We’re pleased to have been able to make these changes whilst still planning for a solid increase in profit.”

Former Liberal party leader’s wealth advisory open’s first office

Shartru Wealth has opened its first office in Newcastle in conjunction with Emerge Business Advisory.

The advisory firm is part of the Shartru Capital Group, a privately owned, Australian boutique investment and advisory firm established in 2009.

The board of Shartru Wealth includes economist and former leader of the federal Liberal Party, Dr John Hewson. CEO of the group is Newcastle resident and former Director of Centre Capital, Robert Coyte. Other board members include property and investment experts Linden Toll and Andrew Meakin, both of whom have been working in financial services for more than 20 years.

Coyte said he was extremely pleased to be launching the firm in his home town and that the experience of the board would help ensure clients’ needs were at the forefront of all decisions by the Group.

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