Andrew Gale Speech at the Sydney 2017 Technical Day

SMSF Association Technical Day 2017 in Sydney.

Good morning,

Welcome to today’s Technical Day, which has a particularly relevant and timely agenda given the significance of the 2016 Federal Budget superannuation reforms.

Looking at the program and the four “deep-dive” sessions, I hope you agree that we are addressing the key immediate issues confronting SMSF specialist and their clients.

Thank you, Liz, and the team, for designing a compelling agenda that we hope will challenge, stimulate and educate you.

As chairman of the Association, there are four issues I want to touch on briefly before our CEO, John Maroney, will say a few words.

  • Your Association’s focus on strengthening even further the value proposition for professional members;
  • The Trustee Initiative;
  • Public Policy; and
  • Governance.

Voluntary professional associations only prosper if they continue to find ways to enhance the value proposition they offer both members and potential members.

This is a regular area of focus for the Board, including last month’s Board meeting.  All associations need to meet, and hopefully exceed, expectations of existing members and ensure regular infusions of fresh members – and we are no different. Especially as your professional membership is voluntary, rather than mandated, we never take your membership for granted. If anything, it means we work even harder to deliver for members than those associations with mandated membership.

Key benefits for Specialist members already include highly rated Technical Support, leading Major Events and thought leadership opportunities, ‘Find a Specialist’ Profiling and referral business, SSA/SSAUD accreditation and recognition, and the significant indirect benefits from our advocacy work with Government and regulators.

We will continue to enhance this value proposition, with a particular focus on strong positioning with regards the new Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority and recognition of SPSF professionals as specialists.

Without going into great detail, we are also looking at initiatives that will encourage emerging professionals in the SMSF sector including repositioning Affiliate membership as Emerging Professionals, the first step in an SMSF career, and with access to On Demand PD, Resource Libraries, building blocks to SSP accreditation, and Peer Group Discussion forums.

These initiatives, as well as others under consideration, are yet to be signed off by your board. We are hastening cautiously. As always, we appreciate member input into our deliberations, so if you have any thoughts, suggestions, ideas, please feel free to discuss with me, or other board members, during the day.

Our goal to build trustee engagement and membership is well into its second year, and is progressively steadily. It was always appreciated growing trustee engagement and membership was a marathon, not a sprint, and we are now at a stage where we are starting to reap the benefits of the foundation stones that have been firmly laid.

As such, I believe it’s important at an event of this nature to reiterate why we remain firmly convinced this strategic move to build trustee engagement and membership will prove beneficial for our specialist members, as well as some of the initiatives we are undertaking with trustee members.

First, the cornerstone of a successful and sustainable SMSF sector is having knowledgeable trustees following best practice.

Second, it’s our firm belief that better-educated trustees, especially those who become engaged via our information services, are more likely to seek specialist advice. In line with this thinking we are starting trustee education programs with a two-hour seminar in Melbourne on August 23 and a day conference in Sydney on October 30. We are also investigating other trustee engagement initiatives, such as exhibitions.

Third, trustee membership reinforces our position as the authoritative voice of the SMSF sector, particularly relevant when we deal with Canberra.

The 2016 federal Budget with its overhaul of superannuation was a pertinent reminder about how quickly public policy settings can change in this country. Although this year’s budget was thankfully “superannuation lite”, all of us in this room appreciate how quickly this situation can change.

We have always been quietly effective in influencing specific government policies.

Our public policy agenda is broad and includes both short term imperatives, especially outstanding issues with the 2016 federal Budget superannuation reforms and LRBA issues, and longer term issues. For the longer term, we need to create a greater awareness with the Government, Opposition, the public sector, and regulators of the inter-relationships between different policy areas such as tax, social security, superannuation and retirement savings. This is most evident in the Retirement phase.

Changes in one policy setting invariably impact on another, often having a perverse outcome. Breaking down this silo mentality and encouraging the formulation of policy from a broader perspective is, I believe, a worthy and essential goal for this Association.

Finally, let me stress that your board is acutely aware of the need for good governance across the organisation. As a voluntary organisation, we owe our members no less. As part of our dedication to strong governance, every 2 years we commission an external and independent performance review of the SMSF Association Board – the last review, conducted by VUCA and completed just last month, found the SMSF Association Board to be highly performing with strong governance practices.

We recently announced the appointment of Robyn FitzRoy, an experienced non-executive director with 20 years of financial services experience, to the Board. Robyn has spent nearly two decades heading a consultancy that specialises in board governance reviews, board and CEO evaluations. She also has strong Business to Consumer skills from her days as a senior Director at Macquarie Bank.

We have also appointed two high-profile public figures, former NSW Liberal Premier Nick Greiner and former Labor Parliamentary Secretary Bernie Ripoll, to our Public Policy Committee, emphasising your Association’s commitment to getting the right policy settings for retirement incomes, superannuation and financial services.

I am sure you will find today’s event worthwhile, and please don’t hesitate to share any thoughts you have about this Technical Day with the board or staff.

Andrew Gale, Chairman
SMSF Association