John Maroney Speech at the 2017 Technical Day Adelaide Networking Event

SMSF Association Technical Day Series 2017 networking event in Adelaide

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

It is my pleasure to welcome you this evening. Today we held the fourth of our SMSF Association technical days following successful events in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne last week, and our national tour ends in Perth on Thursday.

At a similar event in Melbourne last week, we were honoured to have the federal Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the honourable Kelly O’Dwyer, address the audience, where she spoke highly of the SMSF sector, its contribution to the economy, and the work of our Association. She also foreshadowed the important announcement regarding the superannuation reform package that was released yesterday.

The SMSF Association supports the Government’s superannuation reform package. It will improve the transparency and accountability in the default retirement savings sector. Increasing transparency and accountability should lead to improved retirement savings outcomes for fund members, providing a better quality of life in retirement for Australians.

This is my first major event in Adelaide since I began as CEO of the SMSF Association in May – and I am looking forward to many more.

For the past 7 years, I worked in Basel, where I was Head of Capital and Solvency at the International Association of Insurance Supervisors that is hosted by the Bank for International Settlements.

Basel, situated on the picturesque Rhine River in northwest Switzerland, only boasts about 170,000 people. Yet it hosts several large conferences every year. It used to amaze me how many people flooded in every year, not just to learn, but to experience the city’s magnificent attractions.

Well, I have been living in Adelaide for less than three months, and while there are obvious differences (think climate to start with), the question I ask myself: can’t we do the same thing here?

This city has some of the world’s best food, wine and vineyards on its doorstep. I read in yesterday’s AFR that Allan Zeman, the brains trust behind Hong Kong Island’s Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district, is eyeing an opportunity to develop Cleland Wildlife Park in the Hills, saying Adelaide is “Australia’s best kept secret”.

Two of Adelaide’s comparative advantages are its tourism and educational sectors. I believe there would be synergy in combining some elements from these sectors under the banner of “educational tourism”. For example, we propose to develop and promote an annual Adelaide super trustee festival where retirees and those approaching retirement can spend several days in Adelaide attending tailored educational sessions and also enjoy some of Adelaide’s cultural and hospitality attractions, including visits to the surrounding vineyards for those interested.

In addition, we want to make Adelaide a national hub for the SMSF sector. Last month, SuperConcepts announced an expansion of its operations in Adelaide in a move that will create 52 new highly skilled jobs in our state’s financial services sector. This expansion has attracted significant financial support from the South Australian Government

That is an exciting development for South Australia and our city and I hope a harbinger of more to come.

I also note two of our SMSF specialists in this city, Rowan Fielke of the Thornton Group and Peter Crump from ipac, are on the inaugural list of Australia’s Top 50 Financial Advisors. Congratulations Rowan and Peter.

A key part of our mission is to improve the integrity and professionalism of all our members, in particular our specialist members who are the most experienced SMSF advisers. This series of technical days are an excellent and intensive opportunity to further that goal.

Australia has one of the world’s best retirement income systems and all parts of the superannuation sector help achieve security in retirement for millions of Australians. The SMSF sector has grown very strongly while I have been out of the country, and our research shows that this growth has been driven by a strong desire by retirees for greater control of their financial destiny and more flexibility in their superannuation arrangements.

SMSFs are not suitable for everyone, but over 1 million Australians have chosen this superannuation option and we expect another million Australians may follow suit over the next decade.

We plan to work closely with all stakeholders and associations representing all parts of the superannuation system, because confidence in the whole system depends on all parts of the system – not just some parts.

Our board has adopted an ambitious and challenging strategy for the next few years and I’m looking forward to working with the directors,  members and staff to deliver all parts of that strategy. Tonight, I will just mention one key part of the strategy where we are making significant progress.

We intend to lead the SMSF sector by ensuring its integrity and robustness and by providing trusted information, education, policy positions and standards. As part of this strategy we intend to establish a global centre of excellence for retirement savings. This will provide a focus for thought leadership and a policy think tank in key growth areas such as retirement income design and drawdowns, behavioural economics and key investment issues such as infrastructure.

We have started discussions with several universities including the University of Adelaide, Monash University, University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Griffith University, University of New South Wales and Macquarie University. Our intention is to establish an academic advisory group to help support the development of our global centre of excellence.

Dr Phillip Dolan, currently adjunct professor at Monash University and former dean of the UWA business School and former head of the Macquarie University applied finance centre and actuarial program, has agreed to help establish our academic advisory group.

This is one exciting development and I expect to announce others in the months and years ahead.

Thank you for joining us this evening.

John Maroney, CEO,
SMSF Association