Clockwise from top left Nicola Beswick, Michael Winchester, Rachna Chandna, Tony Bongiorno, Natalia Smith and Warwick Gribble

Previously a source of friction for financial advisers, industry or profit-for-member funds are moving to cater to advisers and their clients, say senior planners.

Financial adviser Tony Bongiorno, a 53-year industry veteran, said adviser relationships with profit-for-members funds had changed enormously in the past eight to 10 years.

Not until the mid-2010s, many decades into his career, did the Bongiorno Group informally start working with profit-for-members funds. It happened after speaking with potential new clients at a talk for final-year medical students at a university where he encountered and resonated with Aware Super representatives.

“Initially the industry supers, if you’d like to call them, didn’t like our particular neck of the woods and we probably viewed them with some suspicion but the world’s changed,’’ Bongiorno told Professional Planner’s digital roundtable.

“Everything’s changed. We’ve all morphed and we’ve all matured and we’ve learned to live with each other, and more importantly, embrace each other. I can’t tell you how good our relationship with Aware Super is, culturally we sit very well with them… we’re very much in tune with Michael’s [Winchester, Aware Super’s head of investment strategy] investment philosophy [and] in tune with the people that we deal with there.

No longer a source of friction

Your Lifestyle CEO and senior financial adviser Gareth Hall said his company had 43 corporate clients that paid his firm a fee for service to assist them with their employees’ super.

“It’s not that long ago that the industry super funds as a group were really anti-advisers, they had those ads that even went as far as [depicting advisers] stealing money out of a client’s pocket, and things like that, which was really distasteful,” Hall said.

“I think there has been a great coming together, of the way they operate and from my perspective now, I see industry super funds doing things which retail funds are not capable of doing.”

Hall said industry funds were not for everybody because some people wanted “more bells and whistles” and exotic asset choices.

“But for the vast majority of people, I do think that it gives them a better experience and it gives them less volatility, just because of the nature of the investments,” Hall said.

Hall said the Hayne Royal Commission heralded a catalyst for change for employer clients to shift to industry funds after retail funds and banks were shown to be doing the wrong thing, changing the momentum for employer clients to shift to industry funds.