Andrew Gregory

The $124 billion UniSuper is “ready to roll” with its strategy of expanding its financial advice offering to its members following the government’s response to the Quality of Advice Review, according to its head of advice and education, Andrew Gregory.

“We are ready to roll with our strategy for providing more advice and education for our members,” Gregory tells Professional Planner.

“We will be building expertise in retirement planning and building out proactive digital advice journeys,” he says noting it follows on from the fund’s plan to be the home of advice professionals.

Gregory says UniSuper, which has expanded from its roots in the university and education sector to cover a broader range of professionals and aspiring professionals, already had a strong commitment to helping its 620,000 members with financial advice.

The fund has some 150 advisers on staff providing a range of services from intrafund advice to full comprehensive financial advice and is one of the few funds with its own AFSL license.

Gregory says UniSuper was well down the track with stepping up its offering to its members once the new laws expanding the role of super funds in the advice area have been passed.

The proposals announced in December by Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones will pave the way for a new category of adviser – the controversially dubbed “qualified” financial advisers – who can be employed by super funds, banks, insurance, and life insurance companies, and will be able to provide simple financial advice.

Gregory says he was surprised to see the Minister’s announcement that banks, and life and general insurance companies would also be able to have their own qualified financial advisers on staff as well as super funds.

However, he believes this would be “positive for the sector overall” as it would lead to the development of a large advice sector in Australia.

“It will allow for a big advice sector potential for all financial services businesses to grow,” he says.

“It’s a real turning point. It’s a really meaningful announcement which we welcome. I’m quite excited about it because it sets us up for the next phase.”

Serving the ‘missing middle’

Super funds have also been given permission to charge their member’s accounts for a broad range of financial advice and take into account the needs of the members broader family and outside sources of income including Centrelink benefits in their advice.

Gregory says UniSuper’s strategy would involve the development of a career path for financial advisers in the super fund sector and would see more use of “digitisation” in its offering.