Weekly wrap: Super assets reach $1.8 trillion

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Superannuation assets increased 19.8 per cent in the 12 months leading to 31 December, 2013, raising total assets to $1.8 trillion. APRA’s December 2013 quarterly report show assets for superannuation entities with more than four members increased from $987.7 billion at the end of December 2012 to $1,212.2 billion at the end of 2013.
The Financial Planning Association’s foundation Future2 has expanded its grants programme as it enters a seventh year of operation. The foundation will increase the total value of grants made in 2014 to $70,000 and in 2015 to $100,000. Ipac CEO Patrick Canion and FPA CEO Mark Rantall were recently appointed as board directors.

The new chair of WA Super has been announced as Tim Shanahan, replacing Nick Catania, who will retire at the end of his current term. Shanahan was the board’s compliance and risk management committee chairman since 2004 and has 25 years of experience in director and chief executive roles, including at the Western Australian Municipal Association.

ANZ has appointed Kate Gibson as its new general manager of small business banking. Between 2011 and now, Gibson has been general manager of Greater Melbourne for ANZ’s branch network. She will start in the new Melbourne-based role on March 24, reporting to managing director of corporate and commercial banking, Mark Whelan.

ASIC has accepted an enforceable undertaking from AIE Fiduciary Services former director Manish Babulal Jani of Ryde, New South Wales, which prevents him from managing a corporation for five years. ASIC’s investigation found that between 18 April and 8 November 2013, Jani failed to uphold a number of general obligations expected of him as the director of an AFS licensee, such as maintaining proper books of account and adequately supervising authorised representatives.

Independent investment researcher Morningstar has made new appointments in a big reshuffle. Morningstar Australasia’s current CEO, Anthony Serhan, has been named managing director of research strategy in Asia-Pacific for Morningstar's global research group, effective 1 April. Morningstar’s current global director of equity and corporate credit research, Heather Brilliant, will become co-CEO of Morningstar Australasia, along with Mark Roomans, the current COO of Morningstar Europe. Brilliant and Roomans will manage the business together throughout 2014, and Brilliant will become sole CEO in 2015.

AMP has launched Australia’s first fully integrated ‘whole of wealth’ mobile app to drive customer engagement with their finances – as Newspoll research shows a quarter of working Australians know little or nothing about their superannuation investments. The AMP Own Tomorrow app is the first in Australia where customers can access their banking, superannuation, insurance and investments. AMP recently reported a net profit of $672 million for the year to 31 December 2013, compared with $689 million for FY 12, which it said was due to problems in the life insurance sector.

This February, Australians still believe economic and financial issues are the most important set of problems facing Australia (39%, down 1% since October 2013) and the world (34%, up 1%) according to the latest Roy Morgan research. Unemployment, the gap between rich and poor, foreign ownership and investment and housing affordability are the next worries.

Suncorp has reported a half-year profit of $548 million and increased its interim dividend by 40% to 35 cents. The profit after tax from the business lines was $597 million, due to measured top-line growth, maintained margins and improved efficiency, the company said.

Threadneedle Investments has raised its 2014 GDP forecast for developed economies as a result of the strengthening global economic recovery. The company’s US forecast has increased from 2.5% to 2.7% and its UK forecast from 2.25% to 2.5%. The euro area has seen the biggest jump from 0.7% to 1.1%.

Challenger has announced its interim results for the six months ended 31 December 2013, with total funds and assets under management at $48.8 billion, up 27%. It had annuity sales of $1.75 billion, made up of institutional sales of $290 million and record retail sales of $1.46 billion, up 38%. Its normalised net profit after tax is at $164 million, up 10%.