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Watch the 2023 Annual Members' meeting

Held on 5 December 2023, our panel:

  • Presented our 2022/2023 financial year results.
  • Discussed investment and performance.
  • Shared plans and expectations for the year ahead.
  • Answered any submitted questions in a Q&A session.

Read the questions and answers
2023 Minutes

Aware Super - Annual Member Meeting 2023

VIDEO VOICE OVER: In the spirit of reconciliation, healing and truth telling, Aware Super acknowledges the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet today, and the many lands where Aware Super staff and members work and live. We recognise their past and continuing connection to country.From desert to rainforest, from mountains to plains, from river to reef and the protection of the coastline and ecosystems since time immemorial.

We recognise the integral role of family and communities that have built and sustained the world's oldest living and continuing culture. We value our current and future Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander members, partnerships and engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities and organisations. We pay our deepest respect to elders past and present and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Nation's people present today.

RICHARD EXTON: Good evening and welcome to Aware Super's 2023 Annual Members Meeting I'm Richard Exton the Chief Technology Officer for Aware Super. It's my team that's proudly responsible for many of the technologies that our fund uses to securely manage your super. But tonight I'm honoured to be your MC. Once again tonight's meeting is being held live online. This format allows members from right across Australia to join and I'm grateful to so many of you for joining us for the next 90 minutes by hosting this meeting online we're able to welcome members from right across Australia and I'm grateful to so many of you already joining us here this evening. The last financial year was a significant one for members of Aware Super and it was a year that culminated in market leading investment results which you'll hear more about shortly from our CEO and Chief Investment Officer.

It was also a year in which we completed the largest digital transformation project ever undertaken in the Australian superannuation industry. To give you some perspective around one million members were moved from our old external administrator into a purpose-built new digital system that Aware Super now owns and controls. You'll hear more about this project from our speakers tonight and what it means for you. And now it's my pleasure to introduce you to your panel for this evening's event. We'll hear first from our three main speakers and then they'll be joined by a broader panel of Aware Super experts to answer your questions.

Our speakers are Sam Mostyn, Chair of Aware Super, who'll provide us with an overview of the fund's performance in FY 23 and share her impressions after nine months as Independent Chair of our Trustee Board. Dean Stewart our CEO will speak in detail about the fund's work during FY 23 up to now, and Damian Graham our Chief Investment Officer will provide his summary of how our investments performed last financial year and some of the factors influencing the market inFY24. Following Damian we will hold a Q&A session where Sam, Deanne and Damian will be joined by an extended panel of Aware Super Executives and subject matter experts. In addition to our extended panel I also want to recognise our full executive team, auditor, actuary and other directors who are also online with us now. If you would like to submit your questions to us during the event you can do this using the link in the top left corner of your screen. The slide on your screen shows you where to find that link and this will open a new tab where you can enter your question and click submit. You can then close that tab to return to the live broadcast and don't worry this won't close the broadcast view it will continue to play. We'll try to answer as many of your questions as we can this evening, however if we miss any we will be publishing all answers on our AMM website within a month of the end of this broadcast which will be by January the 5th at the latest. And please note we are not able to answer anything of a personal nature or provide advice related to your account through the Q&A. However throughout the even evening we will be providing you with shortcuts to access information that may be useful to your individual questions. In the event of technical issues please click the support button at the bottom right of your screen there will be a live feedback survey available during and after the event. Even if we can't address all of your questions and comments on air we'll read them carefully and use them to make our future events better for you. So to begin I would like to introduce the Chair of our board Sam Mostyn, welcome Sam.

SAM MOSTYN: Thank you Richard and to all our members here with us this evening Welcome to our 2023 Annual Member Meeting. Tonight is my first Annual Member Meeting as Chair of the Aware Super trustee board. It has been a wonderful privilege to join my fellow directors on your board and I know that every one of them like me, appreciates the profound responsibility that you have entrusted to us - to grow and responsibly protect your retirement savings. Being new to Aware Super I wanted to take just a moment to share with you an insight into how I think about the role of the board after many years in executive and non-executive roles I believe that we need to aspire to something higher than simply governance, and that is stewardship. We must always question and challenge the decisions of the Aware Super Executive and Leadership team we do that respectfully and constantly ask the question 'is this the right thing for our members?' I often judge our performance by asking myself 'would a member sitting in the room with us today be proud of how we conduct ourselves?' and I like to think the answer is always yes. This to me is at the heart of what makes good stewardship. We've seen too many failings of governance in the history of corporate Australia some famous but all with potentially devastating consequences for workers for families and for communities. Now companies have the right to make a profit and your superannuation benefits when they do. But they must do it in a way that is sustainable, legal and subject to the scrutiny of good governance. Aware Super is your fund and it is my expectation and my commitment to you that your fund will also be governed and stewarded to the higher standards that you deserve. As your Chair it is vitally important to me that every member of the Aware Super team understands the very real challenges that all of our members face every single day. In my first months with the fund I've been so honoured to meet with and listen to our members right across the country I've also spent time sitting alongside our dedicated member support team as they have fielded your calls seeking our help guidance and support on your individual Journeys to retirement. It's vital that we listen to your feedback to make sure we are focusing on the things that matter the most to you. Tonight I want you to know that your feedback is heard it is discussed at the board table but more importantly it drives the work we do to deliver the performance you need from us, whether that's through investment returns, keeping fees low, making it easier to do business with us, or just getting your questions answered. We've heard you tell us about the challenges you've been faced with during the past 12 months, families across the country have been pummelled by a cost of living crisis that has carried on for more than a year. I'm sure we all welcomed last week's news that inflation looks like it might be starting to plateau in Australia but it is also completely natural that in these times we becoming focused on more immediate financial stresses. That's why it's so important that someone you trust is taking care of your super protecting your retirement and helping to set you up for your best possible future. And I really hope that tonight's update can help give you the confidence that you're looking for and we want to give you. For the financial year 2022 to 23 I'm very pleased to report that we delivered a 10.7% return for our high growth option. This is our largest option and it is the option where most of our members under 55 years old are invested. Our default pension option, Conservative Balanced, returned a very healthy 7.6% for the same period. Now we're always pleased when we deliver great results but it's not the one-year result that matters the most. Our Chief Investment Officer, Damian Graham, will speak much more extensively about our long-term investment strategy in a few minutes. And if you do have questions on this topic please ask them via our form this evening. One final comment I'd like to make this evening relates to the increasingly significant impacts of climate change on our environment and our way of life. The impact of climate change has been directly felt by more Australians than ever before we've seen in more recent times the very real financial impact of a changing climate can be devastating for individual families and communities and that threatens the quality of retirement that every one of you and every Australian deserves to look forward to. Aware Super has been a leader in the Australian superannuation market recognising the stranded asset risk posed by thermal coal assets, and excluding these types of companies from our portfolio for several years now. Now we know there is much more work to do. These are not easy problems to solve and there are no quick or convenient solutions. But there is progress being made both within our portfolio and around the world. I know Daman will provide a more detailed update on some of this progress from the past financial year in just a few minutes, and I know many of you have joined us tonight online and are keen for some of this detail. Finally it's important that I just want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you, our members and the many stakeholders who support Aware Super day in and day out, and my fellow directors, the Executive and Leadership teams of Aware Super and the many hundreds of our employees who come to work every day passionate about helping you achieve your best possible retirement.

RICHARD EXTON: Thank you Sam I'd like to stay with you for a moment before I throw to Deanne. It's been wonderful to have you come on board as our Independent Chair this year and as some of our members online will be aware you've had quite an extensive um and varied career prior to joining the Aware Super board - you were an advisor to the then Prime Minister Paul Keating who introduced the superannuation system as we know it today, but you've also spent time working in corporate Australia serving on the AFL Commission and most recently chairing the Government's Women's Economic Equality Task Force. So can I ask you - coming into Aware Super - what were your first impressions?

SAM MOSTYN: Well Richard it's a really great question I think any incoming chair thinks very deeply about accepting such an important role where the members interests are really at the heart of everything we do. Um and so of course when I was first approached I did my due diligence and it was really easy to discover just what an extraordinary organisation Aware is. Um I discovered a lot about the commitment to responsible investment I looked at the quality of the returns um the incredible work that's been done on sustainability and climate, which I referred to and you'll hear from Damian, I knew that we had one of the most um incredible CEOs in the country in Deanne Stewart um and the team and the culture was something I heard a lot about from outside the organisation, but it's arriving that tells you whether the due diligence was right. And I've had the most extraordinary arrival here the culture of aware is exactly as it appears um the sense of decency and fairness and the commitment to members up front. The Members First is one is something that I think you can that all all members can take great heart from and um I do take a little bit of sneaky opportunity when I can get to meet members - I've been recently in a hospital where my mother-in-law has sadly been um treated and asked a couple of the nurses who I knew to be Aware Super members what they thought of us, and to hear the discussion that they had both about using some of our new technology how they thought they were getting their super managed what they thought of the, of the work that we do was really really comforting. And so I think it's that constant focus on the member, thinking about the long term standing for something and then the just the commitment of the staff and the team right around Aware I've just been so impressed with, so it it really is a great privilege to to chair this organisation.

RICHARD EXTON: Okay thank you Sam and I hope your mother-in-law um doing well.

SAM MOSTYN: She's doing well thank you

RICHARD: That's good to hear. Okay now I'd like to throw to um or introduce our Chief Executive Officer of Aware Super Deanne Stewart, welcome Deanne.

DEANNE STEWART: Well thank you Richard and thank you for those kind words Sam. And thank you to everyone that's dialled in for this year's annual Members Meeting on behalf of the whole of the aware super team I want to thank all of our members for entrusting us with the honour and privilege of protecting and growing your retirement savings. As a profit for members fund we've got one goal in mind and that's to help you prepare for and then live your best possible retirement but retirement is certainly a deeply personal thing and when I speak to many of our members, some find retirement a very simple and straightforward thing but for many others they find superannuation quite complex and hard to navigate and at times quite overwhelming, and say that that quite erodes their confidence in what retirement should be and what the future holds. And that's why today I wanted to share with you the three vital areas that we've been working on over this past year to be the strongest partner we possibly can be to help you on your way and through retirement. The first and most fundamental role that we need to provide for you is delivering the most consistent and the strongest possible returns, or super returns as we call it, both during the accumulation phase while you're still working but also once you're in retirement. We also need to make the whole process as super simple as possible so that you can do what you want when you want and as immediately as you want, and we also need to be super helpful to give you the confidence in your future by giving you the right help, guidance and advice whenever you need it. So let me first start with super returns - providing you with good investment returns for the future. Now as Sam has already touched on we're committed to providing you with the strongest possible performance over the long term. This is the basis of our super returns promise to you. You'll often hear super spoken as being a long-term investment and that's absolutely true but I wanted to put that in perspective. While many of us start work as teenagers - like my two teenage kids that have just started and started paying into their super fund - many of our members though will stay in that and won't be retiring until they're in their 60s, and then our retirement experts regularly remind us that once we're in retirement we should plan to be retired for around 30 years. So what that means for all of us is that super is going to be something we have in our lives for the best part of 70 to 80 years and that's why it's really important that we focus on that long-term. This long-term commitment is also why we've designed our default fund the way we have where we've got high growth assets when you're younger, as there's many years before you retire and you can take on more risk to improve the likelihood of strong long-term returns, but as you get closer to retirement your appetite for taking on risk in your investment often decreases and that's why we introduce more of the defensive assets like fixed income and cash into your portfolio alongside the growth assets so this means that you've got the right balance as you're heading into retirement providing you with more security and stability. This design, called a life cycle design, has the potential to add up to an extra $80,000 to our members retirement balance versus just being invested in a typical balanced fund. Now we're thrilled that our commitment and the way that we've designed this long-term investment returns has recently been recognised by the super review by winning the Lifetime Returns Awards alongside the award for Best Retirement Offer, now shortly you'll hear more detail from our chief investment officer Damian Graham on how we're investing and what to expect for the markets in the coming year. Apart from the focus on getting our default fund design right to maximize your retirement savings we also want to give you an investment menu that gives you choice throughout the entire retirement journey. When I speak to to many members some of you are fee conscious while others want to ensure that what you invest in really reflects your values and what you care most about. So as Sam said from the outset we've actively listened to you and I want to share with you tonight a few examples of how we've delivered this for you over the past year. One example is how we've heard from many thousands of our members where you want more socially conscious investment options and so we've expanded the range to include a High Growth Socially Conscious option that sits alongside our Balanced Socially Conscious accumulation option, but we've also added two new socially conscious pension investment options and what this does is it now gives you choice of socially conscious investment strategies for whatever your personal risk appetite may be. And just yesterday our commitment to being a responsible investor was recognised by Responsible Investment Association of Australia which named us as a Responsible Super Fund Leader in 2023, and as a responsible owner we aim to generate strong returns for our members done in a responsible way. Alongside this we've also launched a range of low fee index funds that charge some of the lowest fees in the market today, and a final product change is really on our insurance side where we've updated our insurance offering to provide you and your family the right protection, the right price at the right stage in your life and through our partnership with our insurer TAL we can also give you and your family members access to more health and well-being services. One of those is around mental health assistance. At a time when we know that access to mental health practitioners in the community can be incredibly hard to access we can help you find a mental health professional within 10 days. I also want to flag that these services are available at no additional cost and whether you have insurance through Aware Super or not. Now for the next couple of minutes I want to return to your feedback on the importance of being super simple and super helpful. You've told us that you want super that's easy you want things to happen quickly and you want to be confident that we're proactively helping you when you need it. It's these requests that have really driven us to undertake a massive digital transformation over the past 3 years which has now just been completed and I know many of you will have heard me mention this project before at previous annual member meetings but now that it's delivered we can give you more of the detail on just what this means for you. This project has empowered us to deliver the most simple and super helpful service in the industry and respond to the feedback that many of you have provided us. And I do genuinely say thank you for coming with us and being patient as we've worked through this project because it is truly set us up to deliver a much better experience for you. Now during this transformation project we've listened to you and we've sat down with many of our members and asked you to help design the essential products, systems and processes that all Aware Super members now rely on, it's why they intuitive and why dealing with us is now much easier and faster because today most of our processes are now digital rather than paper based and in fact not only are most of our transactions digital they're now automated they're straight through where they're processed just like you'd expect from any other online service like banking or shopping or booking an Uber. And just like online shopping or waiting for a delivery, we've made it much more transparent for you to see whats going on with any transaction that doesn't happen instantaneously. Our My Activities Tracker which I know many of you have already jumped on and used on the online portal, means that you can follow the progress just like tracking the delivery of a parcel. But rather than providing a long list of the super simple promise things that we've delivered over the past year I'd now like to share a short video with you.

VIDEO VOICE OVER: ou're part of the 1.1 million aware super members now living in a digital super world. Did you know that you can now access a simpler faster and more personalised experience when managing your super, insurance and retirement online. This year we made some significant updates to help make it simpler and easier for you to manage your super online. We also brought fund processing and administration in-house to reduce costs and make processes faster. So what do all these changes mean for you? Paper forms are now a thing of the past so you can manage your super online without the paperwork and processing wait times. You can also track your super in the Member Online Portal and see how your transactions are progressing. You're now able to do the simple things online, anytime whenever it suits you. And because it's easier to access your super online there's been a reduction of calls to our member service team so it should be even easier to get through to us when you really need. Getting the tech right also means that when you need to speak to us we can get to you quicker and direct you to the help and guidance that's right for you. We've improved our app and Member Online Portal and we've made it easier for you to make an insurance claim, apply for insurance online and get more from your insurance with mental health, nutrition and fitness support and there's still more to come in 2024 including keeping fees competitive increasing our digital service, providing personalised help for members both saving for or moving into retirement expanding our in-house investment team and finding great investment opportunities in global markets. We're here to help you with the right personalised support at the right time so that you can live your best retirement. As one of Australia's largest profit per member super funds we always remember whose money it is and whose future where look looking after and while we don't exist for the accolades you can feel confident you're retiring with an award-winning. Money Magazine's 2023 Super Fund of the Year Award with super advice and super returns, Aware Super is super helpful.

DEANNE STEWART: So hopefully this video gives you a good sense of some of the things that we've delivered this year under being super simple. But this now brings me to our third and final promise to be super helpful. When I talk about being super helpful what I'm talking about is ensuring that you are able to get the help, the guidance and the advice that you need easily quickly and where possible at no additional cost. We really want to demystify retirement to make it really easy for all of you to plan for your retirement at the time and the pace that's right for you. One example of what we've delivered this year is our industry-leading My Retirement Planner tool. This will give you a quick snapshot on how much money you're going to need when you retire and more importantly whether you're likely to achieve that goal, but even more than that it will help you explore options that may improve your retirement outcome, whether that's changing the age that you are planning on retiring, choosing different investment options or contributing more to your super, or even helping you understand your eligibility for the government age pension. Now there's a lot more I could say about this exciting new service but instead it makes more sense to show it to you.

VIDEO: We know from talking with our members that the key challenge when trying to plan for your retirement is just to know where to start or even how to begin to approach the complexity. People have this belief that they've been putting into super all their lives it's going to be enough I'm don't have to worry about, it'll look after itself. And so they tend to sort of just keep putting it off and be a little bit complacent around their superannuation. But the great irony is that the best thing that you can do to support your lifestyle in retirement is actually to make that plan and know where you stand so we have created My Retirement Planner which is a easy to access easy to use retirement calculator that's available to our Aware Super members. We've set up the tool to make it as super easy as possible to use. It's pre-populated with all the information we already know about you then you're guided through choices around the lifestyle that you're looking for in retirement how much income do I need in retirement to maintain the lifestyle I know and love today. So in the final step you'll see how you're tracking towards your goals and also receive your retirement confidence score. We all know that we can't predict the future and market go up and down and so the retirement confidence score helps you understand how confident you can be that you're actually going to receive that estimate of what you'll get in retirement so for something that's quite sophisticated it's actually very intuitive one of the great features is you can change uh various inputs get a different outcome in a different answer and see how changing whether it be your investment profile or your living expense needs play around with those different fields to get a different outcome and and and see which decisions make the biggest impact on on on the long term outcome.

DEANNE STEWART: So what you can see from this short clip is just how powerful a service this my retirement planner is to help you along your own retirement journey but more importantly what I wanted to share with you some of the highlights of what has happened to members who have logged on and used this service since we launched it . After using this service nearly a third of you have seen how making additional contributions could improve your retirement score and about half of that number have gone on to make additional contributions. For around one in seven members you've also made a change to your investment options after using the my retirement planner. So I'd really encourage everyone online tonight that hasn't had an opportunity to explore the my retirement planner to take a few moments at the end of this broadcast to see how it could possibly help you. But this My Retirement Planner is just one part of the vast mix of advice help and guidance and education services that we provide, and there's a number of additions to that offer that we've made during this past year. as I said earlier we've really actively listened to you and what we've heard is three questions that come up again and again and again. You've asked how much money do I need for retirement? Am I on track for achieving the savings in time? And what else could I do to grow my retirement savings pool ?Well now to complement the My Retirement Planner we've also introduced the Super Helpful check-in where you can have a video call with one of our qualified financial advisers and find the answers to the questions that you have. when we've asked for your feedback for those of you who have used the super helpful check-ins you found that it's really reassured you about how you're going and it's helped give you the confidence to get more engaged with your super and it's also giving you information what you need to explore other options that might be more suitable for you and your personal circumstances. So like the My Retirement Planner the super helpful check-ins are a great example of how we're continuing to invest on your behalf in ways that can provide you with the help the advice and guidance that you need to plan for your best possible retirement. now before I close I do want to flag that while I've talked a lot and emphasised a lot about our digital transformation and the myriad of services that we're now providing, I do want to reassure you of the importance of the benefit of human touch. Our frontline and support service teams are now even bigger and better equipped to give you personalised help that's right for you so that you can have the confidence that you need and we're here for you every step of the way. And I believe that we're now leading in the industry in this regard with our super simple digital experience meeting our delivery of personalised super helpful advice - that's where we're strongest and it's where we're fulfilling our promise to you to be super helpful. So lastly I'd like to thank all of you for the contributions the feedback and the input that you've given us along the way and participating in events like this one. your feedback is what's helped us continually improve and be a better partner for you now I'd like to introduce you to Damian who's going to share details about our investment teams and generating your super returns.

DAMIAN GRAHAM: Thank you Deanne and again thank you to everyone for joining us tonight. It's a real privilege to provide another update on your investments and how we are delivering returns. our purpose is to help you reach your best retirement outcomes and when investing this is front of mind in everything we do. we aim to grow your savings over time by investing in quality well diversified investment portfolios. now we often receive valuable feedback from our members and a recurring sentiment is that you looking for the confidence and assurance that your super is robust to support you throughout your retirement. with this understanding the focus of my presentation tonight will be to provide an update on key global market trends and how we are responding, how our investment approach is adapting in a changing environment an overview of the year in markets and your returns and finally what we expect in the period ahead. the global marketplace is always evolving and it's critical that we keep up with the trends shaping our outlook for the long term and considering both the opportunities and the risks. at the moment we're concentrating on three key global market trends. the first is the expansion of the digital economy; the shift towards a sustainable energy outcome; and demographic trends that we're seeing with an aging population. I'll share some examples of what we're doing in the portfolio in response to each of these trends. now starting with the trend of digitisation it's been rapidly transforming various aspects of society and business a digital economy offers efficiencies and advancements in technology but also has the real potential to transform or change how we may interact in a global marketplace. data centres are an emerging non-traditional infrastructure sector and one our team has been focused on for some time the sector is growing rapidly on the back of data driven tail winds. these include growth in the use of streaming companies moving to cloud applications and also artificial intelligence led increased demand from for computing power this year we secured a significant investment in Switch data centers, which is based in the US and we're really confident the investment in switch is a valuable addition to our infrastructure portfolio as it has strong growth.
Let me move on to the energy transition which we know a lot of our members care really deeply about and is also something that we will impact our communities and societies over many decades ahead. as a responsible owner we're investing for strong retirement out comes for our members and we see climate change as one of the most significant long-term risks to our portfolio and therefore our members savings. we believe that investment is essential to drive decarbonisation and climate action and that it should target emissions reduction, resilience and adaptation. our overarching commitment is that when it comes to climate is to support an orderly and equitable transition to a net zero greenhouse gas emissions through our investment activities, stewardship and also advocacy. now really pleasingly we are seeing progress against our goals and our targets. in our portfolio we now have over $2 billion committed to renewables and climate solutions which includes our investment in Australia's largest operational wind farm Stockyard Hill. we've also made good progress in reducing emissions in our listed share portfolios over the past few years and we're now turning our focus to companies we own directly to establish climate transition plans with them. this helps to identify paths for them to manage and benefit from a lower carbon future. now as one of Australia's biggest super funds we own a large number of companies and we often get asked why are we investing in companies that don't appear to be having a clear path to decarbonising. Examples of these companies may include Santos and Woodside. and again it comes back to being a responsible owner and a pillar of our climate transition plan is to actively engage with these companies and advocate for climate policy. as an owner of the company we're able to use our rights to engage and advocate for the improvement of their ESG policies and practices to influence positive outcomes. we can also use our voting rights to signal whether these companies are meeting our expectations and we're starting to see positive responses to engagement activities. as an example with the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors or ACSI throughout the year we encouraged some of the highest admitting listed companies in Australia to commit to an annual voluntary advisory climate resolution, known as the Say on Climate in 2023 we saw Woodside agree to a Say on Climate vote in 2024 and every 3 years after that, following substantial investor pressure. while this is the start we continue to advocate for an annual vote. now there's a lot more we can be doing in this space and that's why we continue to own these companies to engage actively with them directly and through our partners and other industry-led initiatives to influence positive outcomes. we've been considering the impact of climate change in our investment approach for many years now drawing on the latest climate science and global practices and we will continue to review how we can positively contribute to decarbonisation as a responsible owner, helping to deliver strong long-term returns to members. now the next trend demographics is also key as they influence the economy and markets in general. we're seeing a shift in society where there there is an increasing proportion of an aging population and people are also living longer. considering our members and anticipating their retirement needs is crucial and additionally we aim to explore investment opportunities stemming from this trend. now as retirement living in particular has been a focus of our property team for some time now that's because we expect demand for retirement accommodation and services to increase and we believe that operators are well positioned to benefit. One investment is in Keyton an owner operator and developer of retirement villages in Australia, and we are now one of the largest owners of retirement living assets in Australia and we look to continue to seek ways to respond to the opportunities an aging population presents.

As you can see with a thoughtful and patient approach we're prepared to take advantage of emerging opportunities these market trends offer and importantly also to manage any associated risks to your retirement savings.
One of the best ways to see your super grow over time is to invest in a good variety of quality assets which is exactly what we do and here I presented some of our key asset classes and the responding market index performances. Over the last 20 years now you can see different assets will respond in varying ways depending on the prevailing market conditions and you can also clearly see there isn't the same winner or top performer every year. It varies from one year to the next in 2022 2023 financial year as an example global shares delivered some of the better returns while bonds were under pressure as central banks reset market expectations around where interest rates might eventually peak. now we expect short-term ups and downs in markets it's a normal part of investing but diversification can add resilience to your long-term savings. so moving on to how your investment portfolios look, the charts we're providing now represent our most popular diversified options and show how your money is invested across the different asset classes in our high growth options there are higher allocations to investments like shares and profit and private equity otherwise known as growth assets. but in our more conservative options typically those used by members nearing or in retirement we adjust the mix and include more investments in defensive assets like cash and fixed income. As Deanne talked to earlier, understanding our typical member life cycle and what they need from their super investments at different points in time helps us to build the appropriate asset mix to deliver those returns over the long term. I'd highlight though our approach isn't set and forget. we also reflect on how we can best evolve our portfolios and approach over time particularly as we grow in size. you may have read recently that we've opened an office in London this is a really exciting development in our approach as it means we're able to get closer to a greater range of opportunities offshore to help deliver the returns you need over time. we're also committed to bringing more of our investment activities in house and that is for two key reasons. Firstly by being closer to our investments we are better positioned to influence and drive change to help realise greater value and secondly we're able to reduce the fees we pay to external investment managers and that translates to lower investment fees for you. over time and better returns so pulling it all together we remain committed to building a diversified portfolio that focuses on the long term but one that has the flexibility to respond to market trends and evolve as we grow. looking back on the year in markets the 2023 Financial Year ended with most markets in a favourable position yielding better returns than many investors predicted from the outset. so despite challenges such as rising inflation and Rising interest rates geopolitical unrest and the collapse of two Regional US Banks the results were positive for most asset classes. now on screen you can see a chart of the MCSI World Index, this represents global share movements for the 2023 Financial Year. around September you'll notice the markets dropped quite quickly this was in part because investors were still uncertain about the economic outlook and how much interest rates would need to rise. but as investors began to focus more on the eventual sustained pause in interest rates we saw an overall rise in global markets. moving to how this impacted your super returns as Deanne and Sam both said it was a good year for most of our members with positive returns across most options. while we're really proud of our returns for the year we understand this is just a short period in your super investment horizon. looking to the longer term periods is important as your super is a long-term investment and so on this chart we've shown your 10-year average return to 30 June of 2023. you can see that your returns over 10 years are above the median return returns for comparable funds and this is true for both our high growth option in accumulation and the conservative balanced option in pension. when you think about your lifetime return in super, seeing strong long-term returns is important as it evens out any abnormal years and is the returns that reflects a steady growth in your super balance over time. looking ahead there are some key things we're monitoring. we saw solid economic growth in the first half of this calendar year but this has slowed down in the second half. we expect this slower growth to continue into 2024 as higher interest rates start to take a greater effect we also believe that interest rates are likely to be higher for longer and this means that economic growth and returns for some investments like shares might not be as strong as they were when interest rates were lower. the question now is whether it will just be a moderate slowdown or in fact we will see a recession. we anticipate some further market volatility in the short term given this backdrop but as I've talked to we are well placed to navigate through any short-term movements with a robust diversified portfolio. I hope I've provided you reassurance tonight that your portfolio strategically positioned for the long term to build your super over time it's a great privilege to over see a large team of investment experts working on your retirement and we take this responsibility very seriously. and now let me hand back to Richard.

RICHARD EXTON: Well thank you Damian and also Deanne for both of your updates well now that you've heard from us it's time to hear from you with our Q&A session. for our panel tonight we're joining um sorry for our panel tonight joining Sam, Deanne and Damian Graham. We also have our Chief Financial Officer Tim Elliot our group executive of advice Sarah Forman, our group executive of member growth Steve Travis, our chief operating officer Jo Brennan, our head of information security Sean Martin and our Head of Advice Peter Hogg, now to ask a question please click the link on the top left corner of your screen and type your question in the new tab. we'll try to answer as many as we can tonight but I also want to thank those that have already sent questions in beforehand. and please take a moment to fill out the feedback survey on the screen by scanning the QR code we value your opinion and want to know how to make our future events better for you. so let's get the ball rolling with some questions and and I'll go first so Damian I'll throw to you um aware has...

um slight technical issue here with the questions

DAMIAN GRAHAM: Richard I did see that question it was relating to our retirement investment Retirement Village investment so I can I can answer that um and it relates to a investment we've made recently in Keyton which I did mention in the update um it does uh it's and the question relates to the fact that we've invested and is there a longer term opportunity there, and I guess as I said in in my update my uh my comments we definitely see a a fantastic long-term opportunity for retirement villages we think the aging demographic is such a powerful one in Australia and will continue for many years and so investing in that sector gives us a great opportunity to grow a very valuable asset and to become one of the largest providers of Retirement Village services in Australia. which is largely where we are today so really exciting opportunity and one that we think is strategically important to our our members to deliver those great long-term returns.

RICHARD EXTON: okay thank you uh Deanne next question is for you - why does it take several months for Aware Members to receive their statements? um one of the members have has actually stated that it that their statement that was that ended in 30th of June of 2023 wasn't received until mid October of this year.

DEANNE EXTON: Thank you I really appreciate this question and certainly the statements this year did take a bit longer than normal as we were going through this really significant digital transformation moving the external administrator in house and so that was certainly part of the delay ,certainly now that we have everything in house we aim to do this a lot quicker. I would say though statements can't be delivered immediately straight after June 30th though because what we do need to do both from a regulation and a compliance perspective, but also making sure we've got everything accurate in the final statements that go out to members, and there are some investments for example some of our unlisted assets in things like private equity that do take longer to get the right information on investment costs and fees. So that is typically why it takes a little longer. I would use the opportunity though to also let you know for those that are not on our app or our member portal that that information is now certainly live from June 30th June 30 or 1 of July if you want to check out your own individual balance or how many units you have that information is all available online immediately.

RICHARD EXTON: Thank you Deanne, Damian I'm going to come back to you - will Aware Super use its vote with Woodside and Santos to vote against board directors that are blocking and delaying the transition to renewable energy by focusing their company resources on opening new coal oil and gas projects?

DAMINA GRAHAM: Thanks Richard and and it's a great question it's one that we do get asked quite a lot around um our ownership in in companies like Woodside and Santos. uh as I mentioned earlier we do take the responsible investment uh commitment very very seriously at Aware and part of our commitment to our members is that we will will actively engage with the assets we own to try to ensure that they are transitioning from a climate perspective, to really uh get towards that uh that Net Zero future and also can take opportunity so it's important not just to manage the risks but as I said earlier to be able to take opportunity so we do actively engage with companies such as Santos and Woodside um and we will certainly uh use our vote uh on behalf of our members to send the board of those companies or other companies potentially uh very clear messages where they're not meeting our expectations and the expectations that we believe are important for our members to grow their wealth over the long term, so yes absolutely we we take the opportunity to vote and we we would uh if if there was um those companies weren't meeting expectations then they they could be a no vote.

RICHARD EXTON: The next question I'm going to send to our extended panel and invite our head of information security to respond. Shuan the question is as the bulk of my retirement fund is with Aware super how secured is it in regard to cyber security management of fraud prevention and protection?

SHUAN MARTIN: Thank you for the question Aware super takes all security precautions that it reasonably can to keep your superannuation safe and protect your confidential information. we have safeguards in place for when you call or transact with us and we continue to actively monitor the external environment to protect your superannuation and information at all times members can also visit for our for our most upto-date information on how to protect your information. if you have personal information connected to your account that you need to update you can do so via the Aware Super mobile app which is downloadable from the Apple store or Google Play If you still have further concerns please call us so we can help you better understand the current security measures and discuss additional options. our phone numbers are listed on the website.

RICHARD EXTON: Thank you Shuan um I have a couple questions related to the same theme and Deanne I might ask you Deanne if you can answer uh these questions. And um firstly we've heard a lot about the state of public finances over the past couple of years and Ian wants to know do we have any connection to Victorian government debt from the heritage of the Vic super fund? has the victorian government loaded it with any liabilities that Aware will be responsible for and how much of Aware Super's investment is directed to Victoria?

DEANNE STEWART: thanks Richard I can certainly uh confirm for the member that we have not been loaded up with Victorian debt nor do we have any of the liabilities from the Victorian government. that isn't to say though from time to time we uh look to actually invest in some assets in Victoria and a really good example of that is uh Vic Roads where we've invested that and are major shareholder in that where we see really good long-term returns um at the right risk profile for our members.

RICHARD EXTON: Damian question for yourself - uh can Awre Super please apply the socially conscious restrictions and exclusions to all investment options rather than offering special socially conscious investment streams?

DAMIAN GRAHAM: Yeah and again Richard we do get asked this question quite a lot so it's a really it's a really important question that uh uh I'm keen to respond to. um our we believe our job is foremost to deliver great returns to our members over a long period of time and that's the most important thing uh we can do for their retirement outcomes. but we do take as I said earlier our responsibility around responsible ownership very very seriously. uh we know though to deliver the best returns to our members we should try to access the broadest universe of investment opportunities and so that's where we we try to access broad opportunities across multiple multi sectors or different sectors with that though our job is to own those assets responsibly and engage to try to ensure that they are improving how they're dealing with issues such as climate uh such as other social issues and so that responsible ownership and engagement process is really critical as well. but with our fiduciary duty of delivering those strong long-term returns we do believe that if members would prefer to have greater restrictions and uh invest along along the lines of their key values that the socially conscious options are the right way for them to invest. so we do believe that both offering broader-based options and also the socially conscious options is the right way of delivering outcomes to a broad broad Universe of our members.

RICHARD EXTON: Damian I'm going to stay with you Phil has asked us is it true that union labour is being prevented from working on a building in New York?

DAMIAN GRAHAM: and that question relates to uh a project that we are uh undertaking in New York at the moment. uh it's a project uh based on Java Street which is the specific project. um and it's not it's actually not true that union labor is being being excluded Richard, but we do take the the issue very seriously and worker rights is critical uh when we're thinking about uh what we have the responsibility to to do well and the board takes that responsibility very seriously so we need to ensure that workers are safe uh they're being paid fairly and obviously they have the right benefits as well. uh and that issue was raised with us with regard to this project and our board has asked us to undertake a process engaging with the unions to ensure that we understand that issue uh and that the board can have assurance around that and that process is is underway at the moment. but I can confirm that there's not an exclusion and in fact the first uh awarded contract was to a union um Union based contractor so they're not not being specifically excluded at all.

RICHARD EXTON: thanks Damian. Sam I'm going to pose this next question to you - Barry has asked whether any member funds would pay to the yes or no referendum campaigns? and perhaps further to that we have several members asking whether we contribute funds in any way to any Union or political stakeholders?

SAM MOSTYN: Well thank you Barry um this goes to excuse me I've had a terrible cold this week like many people I think um so my voice is a bit croaky um thank you Barry for this question it goes to the heart of what I was trying to indicate in the opening remarks about the the values and the um the impact of stewardship of Aware. So I can absolutely confirm that Aware did not pay any money of any sort of yes or no referendum campaigns we would not make payments of that kind it's members money um and we're very clear about that. we did put out a statement that was supported by the board and management that said something very simple which was at a time of of national consideration of the the um the constitutional reform that there were many matters that didn't have a voice in super for First Nations people and in particular that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islnder people had not been part of a debate around how superannuation and the pension system worked for people who might have been excluded or had lower life expectancy, and we felt that it was important as a board to make the statement that all Australians should investigate the questions being put to them um make their own decisions but it was an important matter for the community and one that was left to the choices of everyone as Citizens so we did think it was important as part of our stewardship to highlight that voice issue in superannuation but we certainly did not make any payments to the yes or no campaigns. and on that that broader question of do we make any payments to other bodies we certainly do not make any payments to political parties we never would that's that would go to a breach of our stewardship of your money, occasionally we've been involved in payments to very small amounts with commercial arrangements with unions but they are all transparent transparently disclosed on our website um and they're matters that are to do with sponsorships and the um and events um but in the general, absolutely no we don't spend your money um in relation to any political processes.

RICHARD EXTON: Thanks Sam. Deanne I'll pose this question to you John has asked when are the company names going to be amalgamated? John finds it frustrating having to speak to different staff to get information about different accounts and worries that this may mean he's paying unnecessary fees.

DEANNE STEWART: well John thank you for the question and I can um very pleased to let you know that they are now amalgamated but I I do think to the spirit of this question a huge thank you for being patient with us through this period of time as we've had um given the different merges and acquisition we've had several different systems several different products several different websites and through this whole transformation we've now been able to bring it all together so that it's really easy for you to access your multiple accounts, all on the one website as a result we've also been able to reduce fees particularly those in pension phase but also significantly on the investment fee side um as we've grown in our scale and been able to use those benefits as we've brought everything together.

RICHARD EXTON: Deanne a second question um on a different topic though and it's Christopher wants to know - what is our marketing expenditure compared to other funds? and I should say this is a question that we've received a few variations of so we won't ask every single one tonight but we will publish all answers to all of the versions of this question as part of our follow up. Deanne.

DEANNE STEWART: Thank you Christopher and and you probably also saw when the invite came out for the annual members meeting um the disclosure on what our expenses are rolled up and areas like marketing and so we're now able to also see that for many of our competitors so what I can confirm to you is that we are there or thereabouts in terms of an industry average considering we're one of the largest we certainly have a lower marketing budget that many of our other large peers but different funds do this for different reasons and and tackle it in a different way. maybe to give you the context of why we do spend any of our members money on marketing in the first place we have very robust frameworks and diligence around any spend of our members money, but it is important scale really does matter in superannuation and it allows us to both uh look at much more direct investment opportunities but it also enables us to reduce the fees for our members as I mentioned earlier and so for us it's really important that our brand is known as a relatively new brand of a Aware Super even though we're a very old fund it's important that more members join our fund and that that scale continues to grow because it ultimately allows us to reduce the fees and costs for our members as more of that cost is distributed amongst more members and that's why we do the marketing but I can certainly reassure you that it is uh very heavily scrutinised to make sure that every dollar counts.

RICHARD EXTON: Thanks Deanne I'm now going to throw a number of questions to our extended panel starting with our group executive advice Sarah Forman. Sarah we have a question about wait times for advice appointments and can you share some details on this please?

SARAH FORMAN: Absolutely thank you for the question Richard and it's always a privilege to be able to talk to our members and in particular give them a bit more clarity about how they can access some of the really useful help advice and guidance services we have available to help them navigate their working lives and get to their best retirement. um but we've got several options for the members to access advice and Deanne touched on one earlier the my retirement digital advice tool that is available 24/7 online for our members to go in and uh play and see what result they get and how confident they should feel that they'll be able to get to the retirement income they aspire to have. um what we do with that digital um tool in the outcome is we actually complement that with a super helpful check in where you can book in online to have a conversation with one of our planners and it really is just a conversation explaining that tool the information you've put in the answers that it's giving you and making sure you've really understood the um options and the play modes in there and the statement of advice that can be printed at the end of that experience uh to help you navigate to retirement. um beyond that it's a very popular service so in terms of timings of getting uh having a conversation with someone in that super helpful check-in normally I would say you would be able to book in one of those conversations within a week or so maybe a week to 10 days. but as we face into Christmas we are starting to manage some leave for our teams to make sure they get a break um as everyone deserves at this time of year and so those times may have blown out a little bit, but generally I would say it's around a week or so to be able to access one of those conversations at they are conversation over the phone and through a video link if if that's desired. if what you're seeking is some advice around your interests in the Aware funds whether that's in accumulation or in retirement we do have a superannuation advice team and that also provides a video and phone advice service. um that has similar weight times to the check-in uh normally about uh a week or so to get access to an appointment but at the moment as we manage into Christmas it might be a little bit extended um as we've got teams taking leave, but certainly when everyone's back in full swing after after Christmas and back in January um we expect the access to that to be um quite readily available. and then the final um area of advice that we offer is where you need advice um quite comprehensively about more of your whole of Life situation or your household um we have a team of of financial advisers who can can provide that advice service either face to face or again virtually through the phone or a video service. in terms of wait times for that service if you're accessing a virtual delivery of that service there's pretty much no wait time other than the time that it would take to pick a time that suits you uh and also gather the relevant information together that you may need to get the best value out of that engagement with the financial planner. if you want to have a face-to-face engagement we have a number of regions where they have access to a face-to-face appointment within a week of probably making an initial request uh and there are some regions where that time is more extended again, we've got a Christmas period coming up uh or it just may be a geography where there's more uh limited availability to a face-to-face engagement but we absolutely do our best and we aspire to be able to give people access to a financial advisor uh within four weeks of of asking for an appointment and and that not long being a very long drawn out process. um so you can get that that comfort as quickly as uh as you can from us around how you're planning towards your retirement or living your best retirement, thanks Richard.

RICHARD EXTON: Thanks Sarah and just a reminder we will be providing answers to all of our questions online um and while we're on the topic of advice I would I have a couple of questions here for Peter Hogg – Peter, Fiona has said I'm retiring at the end of the year and need guidance. So Peter is there any general advice or guidance you can offer for Fiona or anyone else online tonight in a similar position?

PETER HOGG: uh well firstly thanks for asking this question because I'm sure you're not the only member thinking about retirement um that's on the call today and obviously many of our members are thinking about retirement um in the near future. so firstly um the thing with retirement is such a deeply personal experience um there's there's obviously um exciting things around retirement but there's also a level of complexity that needs to be considered as well so um when we uh talk to members about retirement obviously there's a number of financial things that we need to work through um but really importantly alongside that there's a number of other factors that need to be considered to make sure that um those financial decisions are actually made in the right context questions that many of our um members that we um help into retirement are thinking about are things like um how is your health um and as Sarah mentioned before what is that broader family situation um and how are you thinking about that going into retirement. probably the best thing I can suggest because of this deeply personal um thing that is retirement is to um engage with one of our superannuation advice team as an initial starting point and they can really help you start to think about the options that you might have um start to uncover some of those um those goals and those those questions that need to be answered and um we we know that um as was spoken about earlier that um as a member you can access access that service at no additional cost. so I know at the end of the presentation um and maybe throughout there might have been a flash up before there'll be a QR code that you can scan on your iPhone or Galaxy or whatever you might have um that can take you directly to where you can book um an appointment with one of the Our superannuation advice team um or there's options around getting to our website or calling our contact center and I know that'll come up towards the end of the presentation as well to give you those options.

RICHARD EXTON: Peter while I've got you another one of our members Maria has asked which is the best way to invest one's money with Aware Super and how many times a year is recommended?

PETER HOGG: Again another great question and you're probably not going to be surprised for me to say that um this is actually a really personal question as well and it's really dependent on your own circumstances. um but I guess one of the things that we've spoken about tonight and Deanne spoke about it earlier um and Sarah mentioned it as well um is this super helpful check-in um it really is a process um takes about 45 minutes it's really quite easy we've had great feedback um from other members that have used it as well um it's done via video um um which can really help you see um um how how that can help you in the options that are available so um again no additional cost for being a member of the fund uh and that's super helpful check in um can actually just help you explore some of those options and what might right for you and again the QR code and some of those options that are available um um at the end of the presentation will allow you to um book an appointment to see one of our superannuation advice team.

RICHARD EXTON: Thanks Peter. Sam I'm going to ask you this next question. Michael has asked for assurances that Aware Super does not have investments in companies complicit in illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands nor in Israeli arms manufacturers or merchants.

SAM MOSTYN: Thank you Michael this is such an important question so thank you for posing it tonight and we have heard from other members in um in a similar vein. um I think many of our members have been curious as to whether there's any exposure of your superannuation savings to companies that are operating in the region impacted by the Israel-Hamas war and as you would all know all of you online and all of us here tonight um the war itself and the subsequent humanitarian crisis have deeply touched so many of our members, so many of you um on the broadcast and and all of our staff. I want to say that um at where we we do grieve the loss of any innocent life in this conflict whether Israeli, Palestinian or any other citizen of our Global Community. now our members are a diverse and multifaith community just like the aware team and we condemn and reject anti-Semitism, islamophobia and all forms of racism particularly those that are rising in our country at the moment and we continue to commit to a safe and respectful workplace for our employees and confidence for you our members. and so in relation to the specific ask I know that Daman and the team the investment team have taken this question very seriously and are looking deeply into our investments um and we'll um conclude um a number of in investigations to ensure that we don't breach any of those commitments it is painstaking work it's been taken very seriously by Damian and the team and that work is underway at the moment so I can't I can't conclusively give you an answer except to say that it's core to our values that the question you've asked is one that we've been asking ourselves and that Damian and the investment team um are under undertaking that investigation and we will we'll communicate once we understand that more deeply in in alignment with our values but thank you for asking um that question in a very difficult time for so many people in our community.

RICAHRD EXTON: Thank you Sam um there's a question actually for me as chair and it's from Christine who's asked is this live? yes Christine I can assure you this is live.
Damian I'm going to ask you this question uh from um from Christine as well um can we just go to the next slide please. Apologies we're having a few technical issues problem - that's live there you go there's the live problem. so Damian, Christine wants to know why do we talk about our high growth and conservative balanced options when the performance of defensive investment strategies is more moderate?

DAMIAN GRAHAM: it's again thank you Christine is a very good question with regard to how we've covered tonight two main options we talk about one is our high growth accumulation option and why we've talked about that for the accumulation members is that for most of our members that is the the investment option they will have Deanne talked about the life cycle approach so if you're a younger member you'll have your investments in our in our high growth option uh as you're still working a accumulating um as you move into retirement, we tend to find that most of our members have the majority of their retirement in the conservative balanced option um but they have a different risk and return profile so the high growth option is trying to make sure that we maximize the risk appetite for younger members because they have a longer period of time before they retire so they can recover if there's a market event or a downturn because they've got those years in accumulation. if we look at the pension side though obviously we're looking to reduce the overall risk and the volatility because we know that sequencing risk is so critical and that's the risk of having a negative market event just before you retire or in the early stages of retirement so that's why we do reduce the risk of our more defensive and and pension some of our pension related options so that you can see the difference in return, Sam mentioned it earlier our high growth option returned a little bit more than 10 and a half% 10.7% and our conservative balance pension option returned about 7.6% for the financial year years and you can see that difference with the amount of growth assets or equities they or other growth assets they have in there delivering that different return but also at a lower risk so it is that horses for courses and different outcomes for different members is really critical.

RICHARD EXTON: Damian I'm going to stay with you for this next question and just reading it I could see that Colin who's asked this question was clearly listening to you when you talked about our International investment strategy and Colin has asked for the overseas assets how is aware managing currency risks from the rapid changes in the value of the Australian dollar?

DAMIAN GRAHAM: it is a really it's a really key risk for the Investment Portfolio Colin said it's a it's a again a really important question. we do target for our investment portfolios a level of Foreign Exchange exposure so um if we're investing in in shares that are based overseas they will be domiciled in in another currency and we will uh undertake a transaction to reduce some of that exposure uh via a hedging process or effectively offsetting the currency exposure by undertaking a transaction so it's reasonably complicated but what it allows us to do is to target a level of exposure to a foreign currency that gives us the best risk/return outcome. but for some of our investments and typically the unlisted assets such as property or infrastructure we will actually make sure there's no currency exposure involved in those Investments but for some of our investments typically the equities we do want to have some exposure to those foreign currencies. and what we do find it does Colin is that when you do get Market volatility or a high a heightened risk um heightened risk event you'll tend to see the Australian dollar fall in value and that will give some offset to the fall in the asset so there's actually an offsetting uh process there which allows us to get a lower risk or lower volatility outcome through that that process, so a little bit technical a little bit complicated, apologies for that but we want to make sure we've got some foreign exchange exposure but only on the assets we think it's optimal. and so we go through a very detailed process to ensure that's the case.

RICHARD EXTON: this next question is going to be another one for our extended panel and I'm going to ask Sarah um to answer this one. Sarah Anil says it's hard to understand which advice services are free. are you able to provide Anil with um some explanations around what services are free and and what are not?

SARAH FORMAN: Absolutely thank you for that question um so there's sort of boundaries around around what advice services the fund is allowed to um provide free of service, using you know the fees we take from all members as one of the many services we provide uh to members and the boundaries of that are that it's allowed to be advice around their interest in the fund and that's rules that are set not by our fund but they're set more broadly. and they are something that we're actively engaged with the government on at the moment as they explore what are some of the changes that should be made in the financial advice industry to really make make the advice services that super funds can provide more impactful to the members in helping them get the the advice and guidance that they truly need. so the the services today that are at no additional um charge to the member upon usage are using our digital advice tools so my retirement planner tool or engaging with our superannuation advice team which is a team of financial planners who can give you advice about your interests in the aware suite of products. What they can't advise you on is if you had some super in another fund somewhere else or if you had some uh Financial interests that were quite unrelated to your super holding with Aware uh that they they wouldn't be able to give you advice on that. if you do have those broader needs and you do need financial advice e do have a team of financial planners who potentially can help but there is a fee for that broader advice service but I will say if if you truly believe you have a real need there having a conversation with one of our planners to explore that and make sure that we understand your need we think we can truly deliver a strategy that would be of value to you, it would only be after that sort of discovery conversation that we would agree any commercial terms to proceed with producing advice. so that's probably a broad summary uh in terms of where the fees come in around our advice services.

RICHARD EXTON: thank you Sarah. Deanne I'll ask you this next question although, Sam you may also have an answer as well, Joan asks is it mandated for the board and executive to have their own Super invested in an Aware Super fund and to what extent?

DEANNE STEWART: well thank you Joan uh no it is not mandated in fact I'm not sure that that would actually be legal because we'd be giving financial advice as an organisation but what I can certainly confirm in the conversations that we have and the information that we track about our advocacy for our fund and the pride in our fund is that it is very high so I would I would say that the majority of our executives our team and our board are invested in the fund but it is not something that we mandate. what I would say this year we've also started tracking what we call an employee net promoter score and that means what degree are our employees advocates for our fund that they would recommend it to their family and friends and that certainly is something that we're looking to track to really get that gauge of just how strong is the advocacy in our fund.

SAM MOSTYN: I might I might just add that um I know that for many of our board members it's a badge of pride to um be aware super members and I hear a lot about that from them in our discussions because they have an acute and real experience of the organisation um I thought long and hard about whether as an independent chair I could or couldn't have my superannuation with aware and I've taken advice on that and I'm delighted to say that I'm planning to move my super superannuation to a where I don't believe it causes any problems of independence and in all the public company boards I've sat on there has been a requirement by shareholders for directors to have a stake in the company and I think that's done really to ensure that those that govern and steward organisations actually have a real stake in the organisation itself and trust um and rely on the organisation that we're saying so much to you as members about so while it is right it it couldn't be mandated in this case because of the unique place of superannuation I'm really looking forward to becoming um getting a really super helpful um account with aware super and to engage in all that great digital um work that's been done and I I'm really looking forward to being a member of a Aware Super.

RICHARD EXTON: Thank you I thought it was a great question by the way. Damian I now have a number of investment related questions um for you. Derek has noticed that earlier this year we created an investment option for indexed high growth and Derek wants to know how will after fee performance compare to the existing option?

DAMIAN GRAHAM: Thanks Derek uh yes you're right we did introduce a number of of different investment options I think Deanne mentioned that uh one was the high growth indexed option and that invests in um typically indexed uh sector uh strategies and what I'd highlight is we we do believe that it's a strongly performing fund and it's targeted towards delivering strong returns being in that high growth area. and sometimes we think it will outperform the the broadly based my super high growth and sometimes it may underperform, because it does invest in different styles of assets being index focused or lower cost. um so I think the the best answer I can give is that we think that over time it will deliver its return objective uh and at some points in time it may underperform given the dynamics of the market and sometimes it may outperform but importantly on that long-term outcome, we believe it'll deliver its its objective.

RICHARD EXTON: Damian staying to you Robert has asked - what aware super is doing about the government's forthcoming mandatory climate disclosures in our corporate reporting?

DAMIAN GRAHAM: yeah again hopefully it's clear tonight that our fund is very focused on ensuring that we are meeting our duties with regard to um responsible ownership and climate is a critical part of that clearly. so we for a number of years now have focused on making sure we deliver outcomes or reporting aligned to the TCFD or the the target Force for climate uh Financial disclosures which is a broadly based uh disclosure regime that allows us to provide information on that basis now we know the government is actually changing and and evolving that requirement making a broadly based uh requirement for climate reporting based on the accounting standards and that's coming in in a fairly short period of time. so we'll ensure that we uh align to that because we do believe that transparency is important we always try to ensure we've given plenty of information around how we're focused on delivering the outcomes and engaging on the assets to ensure they're well placed for this energy transition and we can take not only the opportunities but manage the risks involved as well. and what I'd also encourage is that we have provided some great reporting through our annual reporting suite and I'd encourage members to go on and have a look at that information because it does include the TCFD style reporting that we've we've been undertaking for a little while now.

RICHARD EXTON: Deanne I'm seeing a few questions come through that I that I feel you'd be best place to um answer the first one is Hannah has mentioned seeing a number of stories in the media this you about death benefit claims taking a long time to get paid. Her question is why does take so long?

DEANNE STEWART: well thanks Hannah for the question and and certainly I would say that this has played out and got quite a media profile at an industry level and death benefits in the industry do tend to take longer to process relative to many other transactions and there's a few reasons for that first of all when you are dealing with death benefit um with the passing away of a member then turn your mind to where those death benefits go. now sometimes where the member has done a binding nomination or in particular a non-lapsing non binding nomination, you can actually pay that out to the family members or where it's meant to go very expediently but where that doesn't exist as a trustee you must step in and make um and to do a full investigation to determine that the members money does go to where they were wanting it to go, and that does tend to take longer. that being said as an industry I certainly think we can do better and from an Aware Super perspective we've put a real focus in on this particularly as we've gone through our transformation, some of the things that we've done as I've mentioned earlier in digitising some of it so that members can see where it's at. but one of the things we've also done with our operating model is we've just moved to a case um case person example so that when a member comes in with a death benefit or when a a member's family comes in with a death benefit claim that can be case managed by the one individual so that they're not being being passed around and that know that they're being looked after and we're finding while that's early days as we're moving to that case manager model very positive feedback from members. that being said I would say for some members as we went through our transformation the service that we were offering around death benefits was extended through that period of time as we changed from the external administrator to in-house and we had some backlog to get through and so I really do apologise to any of you online if you impacted through that. I am pleased to say that we have worked through that backlog and have got much more reduced time but it does tend to take time and if I can ask one more request if you have an opportunity please do put in a a a non-lapsing binding nomination because it certainly makes the process a lot easier for your loved ones.

RICHARD EXTON: Thanks Deanne just looking at the time I think we have only two more questions um that we would have time time to ask so Deanne staying with you Margaret has asked can we provide some more detail on how some of the recent changes you've talked about tonight actually translates into member benefits?

DEANNE STEWART: thank you Margaret uh this is certainly something I could probably talk about for the next hour but maybe just to give you a few really practical examples, at the heart of this digital transformation I certainly reassure you we've done it for one reason which is to make it as easy as possible for our members and so really good example of that is that most of the processes that previously were paper based and typically therefore would take days or in sometimes weeks and weeks to actually process and have the members um being able to transact, now the great majority of those transactions in fact 97% are digital and most of them are immediate, so that's an immediate um improvement for members. A second example of real benefit for members that we're getting very positive feedback on as I mentioned earlier is things like the Digital support and advice that we've now got in the system like the my retirement planner or your ability to book immediately online an appointment with the planner. just those sorts of things alone have provided really significant benefits for our members and probably the final one that I'd mention which I've already touched on but maybe give you a different perspective of how it is benefiting members is with those Digital Services and our upgrade in our insurance offering members are now able if they're wanting to uh actually top up their insurance or cancel their insurance or indeed see where their claims at they're able now to do all of that online, and that really is leading the way in the market and that's been one of the ones back to the media where a number of funds have been in the spotlight about how long they take and I think we're really proud of what we've done now where members can access all of that online and see where things are at so they're just some of the examples of real tangible benefits for members.

RICHARD EXTON: Just reading this next question Damian I think you'd be best place to answer Rob has asked why do we always talk about super being long-term in response to complaints about growth? Rob feels this is not relevant to him as he is reaching preservation age.

DAMIAN GRAHAM: It's a really again a great question Robin thank you for that with regard to um we do talk a lot about growth assets and growth and how important it is to be longterm in our Focus what we know and Dean mentioned this earlier is that when you're investing in super you may be working for 40 or 50 years before you retire certainly 40 years and then after that you still likely to have 20 to 30 years in retirement so we know it's a very long-term investment even when you're reaching that preservation age or retirement as you suggest you are. but we also know that the way we want to invest for you in retirement might be slightly different than we do if you're younger. and so we do acknowledge that we want to adjust in our life cycle approach adjust the amount of growth assets we have as you approach retirement. we also invest slightly differently for our members that are in retirement because again we know that it's important to moderate the risk as they get through retirement and they're in their earlier to mid years of retirement. so what I'd highlight Rob is that yes growth is still important we believe that when you get to that preservation age you're still likely to have 20 years plus and and hopefully more in retirement so we do need to make sure we're generating strong long-term returns still for you, but we also take into account the fact that we want to moderate some of the risk just to moderate some of that those growth asset exposures and we do that through the life cycle and then how we invest for our members in the pension phase as well.

RICHARD EXTON: Well thank you Sam, Denne, Damian and our extended panel online this concludes our broadcast for tonight. we appreciate your questions and we’ll answer all of those questions um on our website and publish them by January the 5th please don't forget to share your feedback with us through the survey link on the screen and if you want to access the links we shared then please stay online we'll keep them up for another 10 minutes or so so you can scan those QR codes with your phone so thank you once again and good night.

Speakers included

Sam Mostyn


Deanne Stewart

Chief Executive Officer

Damian Graham

Chief Investment Officer

Short-form expenditure summary for the 2022/23 financial year

The following information is provided in accordance with paragraph 29P(3)(b) of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 and regulation 2.10 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994.

Scroll table horizontally on mobile

Expense category Amount ($)
Aggregate remuneration expenditure $9,719,602
Aggregate promotion, marketing or sponsorship expenditure $20,043,013
Aggregate political donations -
Aggregate industrial body payments $277,794
Aggregate related party payments $266,600,453

Further information

The following information expands on and complements what you may have read in the short form expenditure summary. All documents will be hyperlinked as they become available, and all information will be uploaded before our 2023 Annual Members’ Meeting.

To understand how your super performed in 2022/2023, you can also look at your Annual Statement. You can log in to your account online to view your Annual Statement. Depending on your communication preferences, we may also have sent a copy to you in the post.

Click here to view a copy of the of the 2023 Annual Members’ Meeting notice (PDF, 144kB)

Previous Annual Members' Meeting

In 2020, we hosted 3 events. One for our Victorian members given our merger with Victorian based fund (VicSuper), another for WA Super members who joined the fund in December and the other for members from all other states and territories.