Awards designed to recognise excellence in the superannuation industry should not discriminate between funds based on size, says Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards selection committee member Michael Rice, chief executive of Rice Warner.

Nominations for the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards close on Monday February 16. A short list of entrants will be published in March and the award winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Ivy Ballroom, Sydney, on May 20.

“A lot of awards are very generic, and typically size and weight wins because it is more about presence than quality,” Rice (pictured) says.

“The superannuation industry is very complex and so what you are trying to do is categorise the awards into homogenous groups, where the comparisons can be made on a like-for-like basis quite fairly.”

For the purpose of choosing the most deserving winners, Rice was one of the architects of the awards questionnaire, across the criteria of governance, default funds, fund choice, investment strategy and risk, insurance, member services and pension funds.

“The awards is looking at a number of criteria and the reality is that each of those areas is quite complex,” Rice says.

Committee chair Nick Sherry, a former Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, agrees.

“Superannuation is a complex area, with many moving parts and multiple layers. Assessing a fund requires a detailed understanding of all aspects of how it works,” Sherry says.

“The nomination process for the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards is detailed, and that ensures the funds that make it through have been thoroughly assessed. Funds might think the process is onerous, but it is necessary and worthwhile to make the awards meaningful.

“Awards like these help to encourage best practice among all funds by spotlighting those that excel, and by creating a benchmark for others to aspire to. This award also creates a mechanism to publicly acknowledge funds that are doing a great job.

“I encourage all funds to take part in these awards, which are designed to recognise excellence among funds in providing services to members and in helping Australians to achieve a comfortable and dignified lifestyle in retirement.”

Funds that cannot complete a full entry form by the deadline of Monday 16 February may lodge a notice of intention to nominate in any of the seven award categories, and should contact the editor of Investment Magazine, David Rowley.

The Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards selection committee:
– Committee chair: Nick Sherry: senior adviser, superannuation and pensions, Citi; chairman, FNZ; former Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law; former Senator for Tasmania
– Jocelyn Furlan: chair, Superannuation Complaints Tribunal
– Tom Garcia: chief executive, Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees
– Jenni Mack: chair, Superannuation Consumers Centre
– Michael Rice: chief executive officer, Rice Warner
– Colin Tate: chief executive, Conexus Financial
– David Wright: managing director, Zenith Investment Partners