With a huge array of government initiatives reshaping super in recent years, none was more keenly watched than the inaugural performance test of 80 MySuper products.

The regulator found that 13 of the 80 products assessed were deemed to have underperformed the benchmark by more than 50 basis points. Since August when the results were released, 77% of these providers have announced their intentions to either merge or exit the industry.

This year, we expect to see the second round of MySuper results likely causing some MySuper solutions to be prevented from accepting new members. This will be accompanied by the first assessment of Choice options under the test. SuperRatings has conducted analysis of the industry’s performance to 31 March 2022, using its newly developed Performance Test iQ tool. Analysis was completed on over 650 options across Trustee Directed Products, including Retail, Industry, Corporate, and Government funds, excluding MySuper products.

The results from our analysis suggest that approximately 20% of options were estimated to fail the test, which allows for annualised underperformance of the benchmark of up to 50 basis points.

Option Type % Estimated to Fail
Capital Stable (20-40) 25%
Conservative Balanced (41-59) 20%
Balanced (60-76) 17%
Growth (77-90) 16%
High Growth (91-100) 26%

Breaking down the analysis further, SuperRatings found that all option types are facing challenges. In particular, options with growth assets, such as equities, making up between 91-100% of assets held were most likely to fail the test, with 26% of these options estimated as failing based on performance over the 8 years to 31 March 2022. Capital Stable options with between 20-40% growth assets are also facing a challenge to pass the test, with around a quarter of these options estimated as failing.

As the performance test captures investment returns over an eight-year period, funds have limited ability to shift their relative long-term position against the benchmark. However, with the test only accounting for the most recent level of fees charged, funds do have the ability to make fee changes to improve their performance test outcomes.

SuperRatings has been tracking an estimate of the benchmark representative administration fees and expenses (RAFE) based on the performance test calculation. While the test appears to be having an impact in terms of reducing fees for the MySuper products which were tested last year, our analysis shows that the Trustee Directed Product RAFE has remained flat.

 

We observed a decline in the RAFE for MySuper products each quarter since the start of the financial year, however the Trustee Directed Product RAFE saw an increase in the September quarter, followed by a return to the same RAFE in December 2021 and has remained stable since.

Since the results of the first test were published, we have observed an increase in funds seeking to simplify their investment menus, as well as a faster pace of merger announcements and shorter times for mergers to reach completion. While there are clear cost savings for funds in managing fewer options, the benefits of member choice are real, with highly engaged members particularly valuing additional choice. We suggest funds take a balanced approach when assessing the viability of offering additional options to ensure members achieve the best possible retirement outcomes.

The first performance test has had a significant impact on the future of those products which failed. Having an industry wide benchmark gives funds a clear target with significant potential benefit for members, however ensuring the test is appropriately capturing the nuances of the range of investment options in the industry remains a challenge. The regulator will be releasing the results of its second annual performance test later this year, with the industry closely monitoring potential outcomes. As the industry awaits the results of the second test, SuperRatings continues to use its comprehensive database and deep research capability to gain key insights into super fund performance and the future outlook for the industry.

In this video, Lukasz de Pourbaix, Executive Director and CIO of Lonsec Investment Solutions provides an update on what’s been happening in the markets, with market volatility and inflation. Lukasz then explains what this means for the Lonsec portfolios.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: This document is published by Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583, a Corporate Authorised Representative (CAR 1236821) (LIS) of Lonsec Research Pty Ltd ABN 11 151 658 561 AFSL 421 445 (Lonsec Research).  LIS creates the model portfolios it distributes using the investment research provided by Lonsec Research but LIS has not had any involvement in the investment research process for Lonsec Research. LIS and Lonsec Research are owned by Lonsec Holdings Pty Ltd ACN 151 235 406. Please read the following before making any investment decision about any financial product mentioned in this document.

DISCLOSURE AT THE DATE OF PUBLICATION: Lonsec Research receives a fee from the relevant fund manager or product issuer(s) for researching financial products (using objective criteria) which may be referred to in this document. Lonsec Research may also receive a fee from the fund manager or product issuer(s) for subscribing to research content and other Lonsec Research services.  LIS receives a fee for providing the model portfolios to financial services organisations and professionals. LIS’ and Lonsec Research’s fees are not linked to the financial product rating(s) outcome or the inclusion of the financial product(s) in model portfolios. LIS and Lonsec Research and their representatives and/or their associates may hold any financial product(s) referred to in this document, but details of these holdings are not known to the Lonsec Research analyst(s).

WARNINGS: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any express or implied rating or advice presented in this document is limited to general advice and based solely on consideration of the investment merits of the financial product(s) alone, without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs (“financial circumstances”) of any particular person. Before making an investment decision based on the rating or advice, the reader must consider whether it is personally appropriate in light of his or her financial circumstances or should seek independent financial advice on its appropriateness.  If the financial advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of a particular financial product, the reader should obtain and consider the Investment Statement or the Product Disclosure Statement for each financial product before making any decision about whether to acquire the financial product.

DISCLAIMER: No representation, warranty or undertaking is given or made in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in this document, which is drawn from public information not verified by LIS. The information contained in this document is current as at the date of publication. Financial conclusions, ratings and advice are reasonably held at the time of publication but subject to change without notice. LIS assumes no obligation to update this document following publication. Except for any liability which cannot be excluded, LIS and Lonsec Research, their directors, officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability for any error or inaccuracy in, misstatement or omission from, this document or any loss or damage suffered by the reader or any other person as a consequence of relying upon it.

Copyright © 2022 Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583 (LIS). This document may also contain third party supplied material that is subject to copyright.  The same restrictions that apply to LIS copyrighted material, apply to such third-party content.

Originally published in The Australian, 7 May 2022

This article presents the views of Alan Dupont and do not necessarily reflect those of Lonsec.

The ripple effects of the Russo-Ukrainian war are spreading and intensifying. Deglobalisation will jeopardise the prosperity and welfare of millions.

The ripple effects of the Russo-Ukrainian war are spreading and intensifying. Their impact is being felt in almost every corner of the globe, revealing an international system under duress.

The US-led rules-based order has survived and prospered for 77 years through numerous regional conflicts, terrorist outrages and economic shocks. But this time it’s different. Although not the sole cause, the Ukraine conflict is driving a once-in-a-century redesign of the world’s economic and geopolitical plumbing.

Like a once-proud liner battered by countless storms, the old order is in danger of listing, beset by numerous cascading external crises. The threat of nuclear war has increased and the world is rearming as security concerns grow. Food and energy spikes are jeopardising economic recovery, fuelling inflation and shaking up global supply chains already disrupted by Covid-19 and the  accelerating decoupling of the US and Chinese economies. Climate change is complicating energy choices. Trade and financial power are being weaponised. Protectionist sentiment is on the rise. All this is morphing into a system-altering super-crisis. There will be no return to normal service.

The emerging world order will be messier, less stable and more contested than the last, with neither autocratic nor democratic states in charge. The world is again beginning to divide into competing economic and geopolitical blocs, one aligned with the US, another with China, and a European grouping that will be primarily, but not wholly, in the US camp. A fourth group of developing countries may try to maintain their independence from the dominant blocs in a futile attempt to reenergise the moribund non-aligned movement. Non-alignment won’t be a viable option if larger nations continue to flex their muscles.

But the most far-reaching consequence will be the end of globalisation as we have known it. The Russo-Ukrainian war has set in motion deglobalisation forces “that could have profound and unpredictable effects”, OECD chief economist Laurence Boone says. Harvard political economist Dani Rodrik agrees. The war has “probably put a nail in the coffin of hyperglobalisation”, he says.

Peterson Institute for International Economics president Adam Posen writes in US policy journal Foreign Affairs that globalisation has been steadily corroding since its high point at the turn of the century. The reasons? Populists and nationalists “have erected barriers to free trade, investment, immigration and the spread of ideas”. China’s challenge to “the rules-based international economic system and to longstanding security arrangements in Asia has encouraged the West to erect barriers to Chinese economic integration”. Posen says the Russian invasion of Ukraine and resulting sanctions “will now make this corrosion even worse”.

So do John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge in a penetrating analysis for Bloomberg News of the consequences of globalisation’s failure. They write that Chinese President Xi Jinping has spent much of his rule building a Sino-centric economic order on the back of his trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative that spans half the globe. The invasion will harden Xi’s determination to reduce China’s dependence on the West, fortified by the “wolf pack” of young Chinese nationalists around him. The breadth and speed of Western sanctions against Russia “is another powerful argument for self-sufficiency”.

But there is a deeper reason: the rise of geoeconomics. First coined in 1990 by American strategist Edward Luttwak to describe the willingness of states to use economic and financial power for geopolitical purposes, geoeconomics has become a preferred tool of statecraft. A recent Deutsche Bank report concludes that as great power competition becomes more pronounced, “geoeconomics is likely to be the tool of first resort in addressing international conflicts”.

The use of economic warfare to achieve geopolitical ends is not new. Trade blockades were a feature of the Napoleonic Wars. Autocratic German regimes weaponised trade policy in the first half of the 20th century to achieve global influence. Pre-World War II Germany was a “power trader”, manipulating trade for strategic and commercial advantage. In more recent times, economic statecraft has become an integral part of a distinctive Chinese approach to foreign policy in which economic and trade coercion is used to cement China’s place as a leading global power. During the past decade more than 27 countries, including Australia, have been on the receiving end of such coercion.

Much to the surprise and chagrin of China and Russia, the US has taken geoeconomics to another level using its economic and financial clout to devastating effect in support of Ukraine. About $US300bn of Russia’s $US640bn ($899bn) in gold and foreign exchange reserves have been frozen.

Once considered the “nuclear option”, the US and its allies have cut off Russia from the SWIFT international payment system and the central institutions of global finance, including the International Monetary Fund and all foreign banks. Russia also has been slapped with the most comprehensive sanctions levied against a significant economy. Unlike earlier sanctions against Iran, Venezuela and North Korea, they are being used against a major exporter of food and energy. Only the US has the financial power to make these sanctions work. But they also require an unprecedented degree of co-ordination among Western allies. “It is the alliance, not the finance, that has mattered,” says Posen. Freezing the Russian Central Bank’s reserves works only if Europe is on board.

If China invaded Taiwan, could the US opt for a hard decoupling and prevent China from accessing the 60 per cent of its $US3 trillion foreign reserves held in US dollars? This might be a bridge too far because of the reciprocal costs China could impose and the collateral damage to the US and global economies. A report last year by the US Chamber of Commerce assessed that a soft decoupling would cost the country at least $US500bn of lost gross domestic product, equating to a 2.5 per cent drop in the US economy.

Cornell University academic Nicholas Mulder, author of The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War, estimates a hard decoupling could collapse US GDP by 5 per cent, about $US1 trillion – a bigger shock than Covid in 2020.

Still, the speed and severity of Western sanctions stunned Chinese officials, drawing criticism. Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said “globalisation should not be weaponised”, seemingly oblivious to the arbitrary economic and financial punishment his own country has meted out to other nations across the past decade. “We are shocked,” economist and former adviser to the People’s Bank of China Yu Yongding told Nikkei Asia. “We never expected the US would freeze a country’s foreign currency reserves one day. And this action has fundamentally undermined national credibility in the international monetary system. Now the question is, if the US stops playing by the rules, what can China do to guarantee the safety of its foreign assets?”

The short answer is that Beijing’s options are limited. Despite its financial heft, the yuan is not fully convertible like the US dollar or euro and accounts for only 2 per cent of global payments. Beijing could mitigate the risk by persuading BRI members to use the yuan instead of the dollar, opening the door for others to follow suit. Saudi Arabia is already considering oil sales to China that would be transacted in yuan. And Russian and Chinese officials are working to connect their countries’ financial messaging systems to circumvent the Western-controlled SWIFT. These measures aren’t likely to dethrone the US dollar in the short term, although that won’t stop China and fellow autocrats from trying.

The conclusion of financial analyst Cissy Zhou is that the global financial landscape is set to become more volatile. Sanctioned countries may choose to side with their own bloc for trading and investment. Russia has demanded that Poland and Bulgaria pay for its gas in roubles, not dollars, and has called on its fellow BRICS emerging economies (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) to extend the use of national currencies for international payments to dilute the dollar’s power. If the West continues to impose financial sanctions on the non-democratic world a dualtrack system in global finance could well emerge.

None of this is comforting. Sanctions and embargoes may be preferable to war, but the increased use of geoeconomics is bad news for globalisation. It will discourage economic integration, free trade and technological innovation, leading to lower growth, trade barriers, protectionism and a shrinking of the global economic commons. “What we’re headed toward is a more divided world economically that will mirror what is clearly a more divided world politically,” Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Edward Alden says. “I don’t think economic integration survives a period of political disintegration.”

Despite recent bad press and widespread belief that globalisation has benefited elites at the expense of the less fortunate, economic liberalism has lifted more than a billion people out of poverty and enriched many lives. Access to goods and services, international travel, instant communications and advances in almost every field of human endeavour are some obvious benefits. World trade in manufactured goods doubled in the 1990s and doubled again in the 2000s.

A geopolitically and economically divided world could ignite another world war just as the end of the first age of globalisation culminated in World War I. Beggar-thy-neighbour tariffs and power trading more than halved international trade between 1928 and 1933, leading to the Depression and World War II. Only after 1945 did economic integration resume its advance – and then only in the Western half of the map.

“What most of us today think of as globalisation only began in the 1980s, with the arrival of Thatcherism and Reaganism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reintegration of China into the world economy and, in 1992, the creation of the European single market,” Micklethwait and Wooldridge write.

A reversal of globalisation will not sweep away the world we know. But it will slow progress, jeopardising the prosperity and welfare of millions of people in the developed and developing worlds. Deglobalisation will hurt Russia and curtail China’s power. Their quest to insulate themselves from sanctions by turning inward will sap the dynamism of their economies and reverse decades of progress. It won’t be good for the West either, particularly trade-dependent states such as Australia. The Western order assumes free trade and greater economic interdependence lessens the risk of war. This belief drove the Western victors of World War II to create an order that would unite victors and vanquished in a shared economic and political future.

As the second age of globalisation begins to buckle, the challenge for US President Joe Biden is to build a constituency for a new world order that preserves globalisation’s enriching features, creates wealth, bolsters the alliance, and exposes the excesses and failings of the authoritarian alternative. As an ally and significant middle power, Australia must take the lead in urging the US and like-minded countries to resist the false lure of protectionism and the fragmentation of the world into competing blocs. Avoiding this dystopian future will require a fresh narrative and strategy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s no-limits barbarism has had the unintended consequence of reuniting polarised democracies. This new sense of unity, Micklethwait and Wooldridge write, “is no longer confined to the metropolitan elite. One of the great problems with modern liberalism of the past few decades has been its lack of a gripping narrative and a compelling cast of heroes and villains. Globalists have talked a bloodless language of ‘comparative advantage’ and ‘nontariff barriers’, while populists have talked about sneering elites and hidden conspiracies. Now Putin has inadvertently reversed all that. Freedom is the creed of heroes such as (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky; anti-liberalism is the creed of monsters who drop bombs on children.”

But a narrative without a strategy is like a car without an engine. The strategy should have two main purposes: hardening the resolve and ability of the Western alliance to withstand further adventurism from Putin and his authoritarian soulmates; and deepening the economic integration of like-minded countries through an inclusive reglobalisation. This should leave no one behind and the door open to autocracies. But only if they are prepared to respect the rules of an international order from which they have gained enormously.

Although Biden has exceeded expectations in rebuilding the alliance and coaxing Europeans to take more responsibility for their own security, he has failed to bind economically America’s European and Asian allies with cross-regional trade deals. A central aim of our foreign and trade policy should be to persuade Biden to advocate for free trade by committing his country to high-standard free trade deals that offer tangible benefits to vacillating non-democracies as well as the developed West. Joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership linked to a redesigned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would be a good start.

As Micklethwait and Wooldridge observe, the US “won the last Cold War peacefully because it united the free world behind it. This is the way to win the next one peacefully as well. Put together the free world’s economic potential – the EU, North America, Latin America’s biggest economies and the democracies of Asia – and it can do more than see off the autocracies; it can pull them towards freedom.”

There is no more important task for the next government than persuading the Biden administration to advocate for an inclusive reglobalisation. Re-designing economic liberalism to make it more sustainable, egalitarian and interconnected is the best way of reversing the worrying descent into war, conflict and division.

Alan Dupont is chief executive of geopolitical risk consultancy The Cognoscenti Group and a Lowy Institute nonresident fellow.

The content, presentations and discussion topics covered during this event are intended for licensed financial advisers and institutional clients only and are not intended for use by retail clients. No representation, warranty or undertaking is given or made in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

Except for any liability which cannot be excluded, Lonsec, its directors, officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability for any error or inaccuracy in, misstatement or omission from, these presentations or any loss or damage suffered by the attendee or any other person as a consequence of relying upon the information presented.

Lonsec advises that all content presented at this event by any Symposium partner (not part of the Lonsec group of companies) is 3rd party content and forms representations and opinions of those 3rd parties alone. The contents of the presentations at this event are not in any way endorsed by Lonsec.

Fixed Income is added to a broad portfolio of assets for several reasons. They include:

  • Return: Frequent income from the cash flows of the coupon or interest payments to stabilise the risk and return of your client’s portfolio.
  • Defensive: Capital Preservation. The relatively steady return of capital of fixed-income products (unless there is a credit event default with particular debt security) can partly offset losses from a decline in share prices.
  • Risk Diversification: Broadening the opportunity set in a multi-asset portfolio to diversify risk.

Although there are many benefits to fixed income products, as with all investments, there are several risks investors should be aware of.

  • Credit and Default Risk: Federal, State, and Semi-Government bonds and securities have the backing of the relevant Government. Whereas, corporate bonds, are backed by the financial viability of the underlying company. Should a company declare bankruptcy, bondholders have a higher claim on company assets than do common shareholders. Bonds with credit ratings below BBB are of lower quality and considered below investment grade or junk bonds
  • Interest Rate Risk: This risk happens in an environment like now whereby market interest rates are rising, and the price paid by the bond falls behind. In this case, the bond would lose value in the secondary bond market if sold or market to market on a daily basis like share prices.
  • Market Risk: The prices of bonds (like shares) can increase and decrease over the life of the bond. If the investor holds the bond until its maturity, the price movements are immaterial since the investor will be paid the par face value (usually the 100 cents in the dollar) of the bond upon maturity. However, if the bondholder sells the bond before its maturity through a broker or financial institution in the secondary market, the investor will receive the current market price at the time of the sale. The selling price could result in a gain or loss on the bond investment depending on the underlying corporation, the coupon interest rate, and the current market interest rate.
  • Inflation Risk: Inflationary risk is also a danger to fixed-income investors. The pace at which prices rise in the economy is called inflation. If inflation increases, it eats into the gains of fixed income securities. For example, if fixed-rate debt security pays a 3% return and inflation rises by 5%, the investor loses out, earning only a -2% return in real terms.

What’s Better for Fixed Income Investors when Interest Rates are Rising?

During a period of rising interest rates (yields) fixed-income investments that pay a fixed rate of interest, such as bonds are not helpful, for two reasons:

Firstly, there is an inverse relationship between a bond’s price and its yield – as interest rates increase, bonds fall in value, so bondholders can face capital losses if the bonds are sold prior to maturity. If not sold prior to maturity and they do not default, you get the original par value back plus interest.

Secondly, the income stream from fixed-rate bonds remains the same until maturity. However, as inflation rises, the purchasing power of the interest payments declines.

Investments that pay a floating rate of return are likely to be better off in an inflationary environment, as the interest rate they pay is adjusted periodically such as every 90 days to reflect market rates. If interest rates rise, the interest paid by the investment should also increase at the next reset date. Investors in these types of securities and products do like interest rate hikes as they have very little interest rate duration (or term) risk.

Inflation is generally regarded as damaging to holders of cash and cash equivalents securities or products since the value of cash usually does not keep pace with the increased price of goods and services.

Strategies Employed by Lonsec’s Managers For Diversifying Fixed Income Portfolios During a Climate of Rising inflation and Interest rates

Typically, you take into consideration the client’s return, risk, time horizon, and liquidity expectations.

Usually, such a portfolio is expected to have a minimum time horizon of three years and provide monthly or quarterly income with a level of liquidity to pay their monthly retirement benefits with minimal impact on their capital.

The anchor for the fixed income portfolio is an active fund manager with a core portfolio of investment-grade coupon-paying bonds that continually mature at par into the next series of bonds. In the current investment climate, these active managers have already taken defensive positions by reducing interest rate risk in the portfolio to below benchmark levels of duration and rotating into higher quality rated bonds.  Yes, the daily mark to market price will fluctuate and I have seen portfolios of fixed-rate bonds in some cases now down 8% over one year to the end of April 2022. However, the fixed income portfolio manager is unlikely to sell them before maturity (assuming fund flows are unchanged), and if the bonds don’t default you will get your par value principle back. As the current bond market correction continues in a typical once-a-decade event now is not the time to crystalize your mark to market paper losses. Continue to focus on your three-year strategy and the fund manager will wait for the opportune time to add interest rate risk to core bond holdings when the economic growth fundamentals start to slow and suggest inflationary pressures have peaked. By then the yields and the carry will be much higher in the portfolio.

The next part of the portfolio is your non-core strategies to enhance your income yield with some additional sub-sector strategies including credit, emerging markets, securitised assets.

Within these sub-sectors, it is important to note the following strategies. During this rate hike period floating-rate (or variable investment) strategies will do better than fixed-rate strategies as short-term rates rise due to the regular monthly or quarterly rate reset higher. Remember Floating Rate Portfolio Managers want short-term interest rates to go higher so they can pass on the higher income to their investors. Since you have a diversified portfolio of strategies this component of your portfolio will do well.

In terms of credit strategies, your typical credit manager will also be already defensively positioned. it is important in terms of capital preservation and market volatility to be higher up the capital structure in senior or senior secured debt rather than unsecured debt or hybrids. If interest rates rise too quickly and too high for an extended period, economic growth slows then the level of defaults is at risk of rising. Better to have a bias towards secured debt whereby you are protected by mortgaged assets. Also, the further up the capital structure you are the equity market beta reduces. What that means is debt lower down the capital structure usually moves in about a 0.7 correlation with equity prices. So, if equity or equities go down say 10% in price, lower down the capital structure debt such as unsecured or hybrids may go down an estimated 7% in price terms (and the reverse happens when share prices are rising and the Fund manager rotates down the capital structure). So, the credit fund manager may have added some floating-rate private secured debt or bank loans (subject to the credit rating) strategies in order to reduce the market volatility and increase capital preservation within your portfolio.

Finally, all the active strategies would be keeping up a higher-than-normal level of liquidity to quickly rotate back into higher-yielding credit and interest rate risk strategies when they deem it to be safe to do so.

Lonsec as part of our portfolio construction investment process monitors and actively manages the exposure to fixed interest assets taking into account the prevailing market conditions and risks. The current environment has been challenging for fixed interest managers; however, the market volatility will present investment opportunities and at some point, the yields offered from fixed income will warrant further investigation.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: This document is published by Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583, a Corporate Authorised Representative (CAR 1236821) (LIS) of Lonsec Research Pty Ltd ABN 11 151 658 561 AFSL 421 445 (Lonsec Research).  LIS creates the model portfolios it distributes using the investment research provided by Lonsec Research but LIS has not had any involvement in the investment research process for Lonsec Research. LIS and Lonsec Research are owned by Lonsec Holdings Pty Ltd ACN 151 235 406. Please read the following before making any investment decision about any financial product mentioned in this document.

DISCLOSURE AT THE DATE OF PUBLICATION: Lonsec Research receives a fee from the relevant fund manager or product issuer(s) for researching financial products (using objective criteria) which may be referred to in this document. Lonsec Research may also receive a fee from the fund manager or product issuer(s) for subscribing to research content and other Lonsec Research services.  LIS receives a fee for providing the model portfolios to financial services organisations and professionals. LIS’ and Lonsec Research’s fees are not linked to the financial product rating(s) outcome or the inclusion of the financial product(s) in model portfolios. LIS and Lonsec Research and their representatives and/or their associates may hold any financial product(s) referred to in this document, but details of these holdings are not known to the Lonsec Research analyst(s).

WARNINGS: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any express or implied rating or advice presented in this document is limited to general advice and based solely on consideration of the investment merits of the financial product(s) alone, without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs (“financial circumstances”) of any particular person. Before making an investment decision based on the rating or advice, the reader must consider whether it is personally appropriate in light of his or her financial circumstances or should seek independent financial advice on its appropriateness.  If the financial advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of a particular financial product, the reader should obtain and consider the Investment Statement or the Product Disclosure Statement for each financial product before making any decision about whether to acquire the financial product.

DISCLAIMER: No representation, warranty or undertaking is given or made in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in this document, which is drawn from public information not verified by LIS. The information contained in this document is current as at the date of publication. Financial conclusions, ratings and advice are reasonably held at the time of publication but subject to change without notice. LIS assumes no obligation to update this document following publication. Except for any liability which cannot be excluded, LIS and Lonsec Research, their directors, officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability for any error or inaccuracy in, misstatement or omission from, this document or any loss or damage suffered by the reader or any other person as a consequence of relying upon it.

Copyright © 2022 Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583 (LIS). This document may also contain third party supplied material that is subject to copyright.  The same restrictions that apply to LIS copyrighted material, apply to such third-party content.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) have been available on the ASX for over 2 decades, but in recent years, this category’s variety and representation within Australian portfolios have grown rapidly.

By offering exposure to different global markets, industry sectors and strategic themes, as well as non-equities asset classes like bonds and commodities, ETFs can provide relatively low-cost “building blocks” for a diversified portfolio.

However, as with any investment, it’s very important to understand what you are putting your money into, and to ensure that it suits your specific needs.  Here are five questions to ask yourself, or your financial adviser, before you purchase an ETF.

Question 1: Does it accurately capture the market exposure that I want?

You wouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so make sure to look beyond the ETF’s name to properly assess the underlying exposure of the product. Common misunderstandings include:

  • Mistaking a “picks and shovels” exposure, through owning suppliers and supporters of a sector, for that sector’s output. For example, a portfolio of cryptocurrency miners and exchange operators is not the same as a direct investment into cryptocurrency;
  • Confusion between ETFs linked to a commodity’s spot price, which is the price for immediate delivery, and those representing a futures curve, which will move with expectations for longer-term pricing; and
  • Overlooking exchange rate movements, which can influence your returns from anything not priced in Australian dollars. This impact can be neutralised with a currency-hedged ETF.

Question 2: Is the exposure active, passive, or somewhere in between?

Early ETFs were purely passive, usually linked to an equities index like the S&P/ASX 200, but now, there are also actively managed portfolios within an ETF structure. “Smart beta” portfolios which apply rules-based investment strategies are becoming more common too, for example, one might invest in a basket of stocks which screen well on quality factors. The exposure type affects fee levels and return potential, with passive ETFs tending to be the cheapest, but lacking the potential to outperform an index benchmark.

Question 3: How liquid is this product?

It is possible for the price of an ETF to diverge from that of its underlying exposure, particularly in volatile market conditions such as the COVID-19 panic in early 2020. To ensure that investors can get in and out of a product when they want to, ETF providers often employ a Market Maker, an institution which quotes separate prices to buy and sell units. Generally, ETFs with a smaller pool of units on issue are more likely to have poor liquidity, and this can show up in a wide spread between the buy and sell prices. Using “at-limit” orders when trading ETFs can help ensure that you receive the price you expect.

Question 4: How does the fee compare to alternatives, and what are the trade-offs?

Low cost is a major benefit of ETFs, but when you have several to choose from, it’s worth understanding why one’s management fee is cheaper. Active management usually costs more, and ETFs linked to a major market benchmark are sometimes priced higher because the index provider takes a cut of the total fee. Unusual products may carry a scarcity premium, while new or smaller-scale offerings may have lower fees, both to compensate for their initially poor liquidity, and also to entice more patronage over time.

Question 5: How does it fit with the rest of my portfolio?

Any new investment should be considered in the context of your existing portfolio. ETFs can provide valuable diversification, but they can also be a source of inadvertent overlap or concentrated exposure to certain sectors or factors. For example, ETFs linked to the S&P 500 index, the NASDAQ 100 and an actively-managed global growth strategy might overlap in high exposure to the Big Tech stocks, so this combination might not provide adequate diversification.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: This document is published by Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583, a Corporate Authorised Representative (CAR 1236821) (LIS) of Lonsec Research Pty Ltd ABN 11 151 658 561 AFSL 421 445 (Lonsec Research).  LIS creates the model portfolios it distributes using the investment research provided by Lonsec Research but LIS has not had any involvement in the investment research process for Lonsec Research. LIS and Lonsec Research are owned by Lonsec Holdings Pty Ltd ACN 151 235 406. Please read the following before making any investment decision about any financial product mentioned in this document.

DISCLOSURE AT THE DATE OF PUBLICATION: Lonsec Research receives a fee from the relevant fund manager or product issuer(s) for researching financial products (using objective criteria) which may be referred to in this document. Lonsec Research may also receive a fee from the fund manager or product issuer(s) for subscribing to research content and other Lonsec Research services.  LIS receives a fee for providing the model portfolios to financial services organisations and professionals. LIS’ and Lonsec Research’s fees are not linked to the financial product rating(s) outcome or the inclusion of the financial product(s) in model portfolios. LIS and Lonsec Research and their representatives and/or their associates may hold any financial product(s) referred to in this document, but details of these holdings are not known to the Lonsec Research analyst(s).

WARNINGS: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any express or implied rating or advice presented in this document is limited to general advice and based solely on consideration of the investment merits of the financial product(s) alone, without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs (“financial circumstances”) of any particular person. Before making an investment decision based on the rating or advice, the reader must consider whether it is personally appropriate in light of his or her financial circumstances or should seek independent financial advice on its appropriateness.  If the financial advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of a particular financial product, the reader should obtain and consider the Investment Statement or the Product Disclosure Statement for each financial product before making any decision about whether to acquire the financial product.

DISCLAIMER: No representation, warranty or undertaking is given or made in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in this document, which is drawn from public information not verified by LIS. The information contained in this document is current as at the date of publication. Financial conclusions, ratings and advice are reasonably held at the time of publication but subject to change without notice. LIS assumes no obligation to update this document following publication. Except for any liability which cannot be excluded, LIS and Lonsec Research, their directors, officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability for any error or inaccuracy in, misstatement or omission from, this document or any loss or damage suffered by the reader or any other person as a consequence of relying upon it.

Copyright © 2022 Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583 (LIS). This document may also contain third party supplied material that is subject to copyright.  The same restrictions that apply to LIS copyrighted material, apply to such third-party content.

Volatility and market uncertainty is increasing as markets react to news about interest rate rises. We asked Chief Investment Officer, Lukasz de Pourbaix, to give us an update on whether the current market situation has impacted Lonsec’s dynamic asset allocation views and whether any changes will be made to the Lonsec portfolios’ positions.

Lukasz explains that as part of Lonsec’s Investment Committee oversight process the team will continue to analyse and closely monitor the evolving situation. Rebalancing portfolios will become increasingly important over the next 12 months however the portfolios have a good built-in diversification across investment strategies and styles and Lonsec is comfortable with the portfolios’ current positions.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: This document is published by Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583, a Corporate Authorised Representative (CAR 1236821) (LIS) of Lonsec Research Pty Ltd ABN 11 151 658 561 AFSL 421 445 (Lonsec Research).  LIS creates the model portfolios it distributes using the investment research provided by Lonsec Research but LIS has not had any involvement in the investment research process for Lonsec Research. LIS and Lonsec Research are owned by Lonsec Holdings Pty Ltd ACN 151 235 406. Please read the following before making any investment decision about any financial product mentioned in this document.

DISCLOSURE AT THE DATE OF PUBLICATION: Lonsec Research receives a fee from the relevant fund manager or product issuer(s) for researching financial products (using objective criteria) which may be referred to in this document. Lonsec Research may also receive a fee from the fund manager or product issuer(s) for subscribing to research content and other Lonsec Research services.  LIS receives a fee for providing the model portfolios to financial services organisations and professionals. LIS’ and Lonsec Research’s fees are not linked to the financial product rating(s) outcome or the inclusion of the financial product(s) in model portfolios. LIS and Lonsec Research and their representatives and/or their associates may hold any financial product(s) referred to in this document, but details of these holdings are not known to the Lonsec Research analyst(s).

WARNINGS: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any express or implied rating or advice presented in this document is limited to general advice and based solely on consideration of the investment merits of the financial product(s) alone, without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs (“financial circumstances”) of any particular person. Before making an investment decision based on the rating or advice, the reader must consider whether it is personally appropriate in light of his or her financial circumstances or should seek independent financial advice on its appropriateness.  If the financial advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of a particular financial product, the reader should obtain and consider the Investment Statement or the Product Disclosure Statement for each financial product before making any decision about whether to acquire the financial product.

DISCLAIMER: No representation, warranty or undertaking is given or made in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in this document, which is drawn from public information not verified by LIS. The information contained in this document is current as at the date of publication. Financial conclusions, ratings and advice are reasonably held at the time of publication but subject to change without notice. LIS assumes no obligation to update this document following publication. Except for any liability which cannot be excluded, LIS and Lonsec Research, their directors, officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability for any error or inaccuracy in, misstatement or omission from, this document or any loss or damage suffered by the reader or any other person as a consequence of relying upon it.

Copyright © 2022 Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583 (LIS). This document may also contain third party supplied material that is subject to copyright.  The same restrictions that apply to LIS copyrighted material, apply to such third-party content.

Across the financial services industry there are a number of key themes that are ongoing and emerging, including regulatory and legislative change, challenges of a pandemic environment, distribution channels and the rising focus on ESG and sustainability considerations.

In this panel session we will discuss the strategic considerations associated with the rising adoption of net zero by 2050 commitments by asset owners and investment managers. The challenges will be discussed by leading super funds and investors and they will share their thoughts on how our industry can progress towards this target.

Lonsec hosted this panel as part of the Fund of the Year Awards 2021.

Issued by Lonsec Research Pty Ltd ABN 11 151 658 561 AFSL 421 445 (Lonsec). Warning: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any advice is General Advice without considering the objectives, financial situation and needs of any person. Before making a decision read the PDS and consider your financial circumstances or seek personal advice. Disclaimer: Lonsec gives no warranty of accuracy or completeness of information in this document, which is compiled from information from public and third-party sources. Opinions are reasonably held by Lonsec at compilation. Lonsec assumes no obligation to update this document after publication. Except for liability which can’t be excluded, Lonsec, its directors, officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability for any error, inaccuracy, misstatement or omission, or any loss suffered through relying on the document or any information. ©2021 Lonsec. All rights reserved. This report may also contain third party material that is subject to copyright. To the extent that copyright subsists in a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material. Any unauthorised reproduction of this information is prohibited. 

Lonsec and SuperRatings have announced the winners of this year’s Fund of the Year Awards, which were held virtually for the second year in a row.

The Lonsec Manager of the Year was awarded to First Sentier Investors in recognition of their strong investment approach right across their suite of products.

“First Sentier Investors has a strong track record, not just in performance, but also driving positive change with their investment products, having integrated ESG across their business.” said Lonsec Research Executive Director, Lorraine Robinson.

“Congratulations to First Sentier Investors and all the other winners and nominees in this year’s awards.”

First Sentier Investors CEO, Mark Steinberg, commented “First Sentier Investors has always had a focus on delivering sustainable long-term outcomes for our clients. We are very proud to receive this award as recognition of that commitment.”

The SuperRatings Fund of the Year went to UniSuper, recognising their strong assessments across the main judging categories, with strong performance, competitive fees and an ongoing focus on members.

“UniSuper has continued to deliver strong net benefit outcomes over the past twelve months, due to competitive fees and strong performance. Coupled with a clear focus on supporting and servicing members, with a range of advice services embedded into their offering, UniSuper demonstrates the benefit of consistent excellence across all aspects of their offering.”

“It is an honour to continue to recognise the best in the superannuation sector and award those funds who, in the last year, have helped their members to navigate a very difficult time.” said SuperRatings Executive Director, Kirby Rappell.

UniSuper CEO, Peter Chun, said “We’re so proud to have won SuperRatings Fund of the Year award. UniSuper is committed to delivering greater retirement outcomes for our members so it’s an honour to be recognised for offering the very best in investment performance, value, and member services, especially now we can welcome all Australians to our fund.”

Full List of Winners

 

Lonsec Manager of the Year

First Sentier Investors

 

Lonsec Multi-Asset Fund of the Year

BlackRock Tactical Growth Fund

 

Lonsec Active Equity Fund of the Year

Hyperion Australian Growth Companies Fund

 

Lonsec Passive Fund of the Year

VanEck MSCI International Quality ETF – ASX: QUAL

 

Lonsec Active Fixed Income Fund of the Year

Pendal Short Term Income Securities Fund

 

Lonsec Property and Infrastructure Fund of the Year

Australian Unity Healthcare Property Trust

 

Lonsec Alternatives Fund of the Year

Partners Group Global Value Fund

 

Lonsec Emerging Manager of the Year

Sage Capital

 

Lonsec Innovation Award

Robeco SDG Credit Income Fund (AUD Hedged) – Class B

 

SuperRatings Fund of the Year Award

UniSuper

 

SuperRatings MySuper of the Year 

AustralianSuper

 

SuperRatings MyChoice Super of the Year

Hostplus

 

SuperRatings Pension of the Year

QSuper

 

SuperRatings Career Fund of the Year 

HESTA

 

SuperRatings Momentum Award

TelstraSuper

 

SuperRatings Net Benefit Award

AustralianSuper + HESTA

 

SuperRatings Smooth Ride Award

QSuper

 

SuperRatings Infinity Award

Australian Ethical Super

 

Release ends
For more information, contact:
Rob Hardy
Robert.Hardy@lonsec.com.au
1300 826 395

Lonsec and SuperRatings are pleased to announce the nominations for this year’s Lonsec and SuperRatings Fund of the Year Awards. With 18 categories, the awards emphasise Lonsec and SuperRatings’ commitment to recognising the best providers across the managed fund and superannuation sectors.

Lonsec CEO, Mike Wright, comments, ‘As the pandemic has posed ongoing challenges across investment markets and operating environments, it is important that we recognise the contributions of strong funds that are helping their clients and members navigate this uncertainty.’

For the first time, Lonsec will present a full suite of nine managed fund awards, including an overall Lonsec Manager of the Year. Lorraine Robinson, Executive Director of Lonsec Research explains, ‘In previous years, the SuperRatings Awards have been a much-anticipated event and we decided it’s time that Lonsec Research further recognised the outstanding contributors to the managed fund market.’

This year’s awards will be the nineteenth for SuperRatings, recognising the best superannuation funds. Kirby Rappell, Executive Director of SuperRatings comments, ‘It is an honour to continue to recognise the best in the superannuation sector and award those funds who, in the last year, have helped their members to navigate a very difficult time. While this year’s event will be held virtually, the awards continue to be very real.’

An overall SuperRatings Fund of the Year winner will also be announced on the day. The full list of nominees for all categories is available at the bottom of this release.

The awards will be held at 3.00pm on Thursday, 28 October in a 1.5-hour online session to be enjoyed from the comfort of your home or office. As part of the awards program, Lonsec and SuperRatings will host a panel session, On the Road to Net Zero by 2050, to discuss the strategic considerations associated with the rising adoption of net zero by 2050 by companies and governments and what this means for investment portfolios.

The nominations for the Lonsec awards are:

Lonsec Manager of the Year

Finalists

First Sentier Investors
Franklin Templeton
Pendal Group

Lonsec Multi-Asset Fund of the Year

Finalists

Atrium Evolution Series – Diversified Fund AEF 9
BlackRock Tactical Growth Fund
PineBridge Global Dynamic Asset Allocation Fund

Lonsec Active Equity Fund of the Year

Finalists

GQG Partners Emerging Markets Equity Fund – A Class
Hyperion Australian Growth Companies Fund
T. Rowe Price Global Equity Fund

Lonsec Passive Fund of the Year

Finalists

BetaShares Asia Technology Tigers ETF – ASX: ASIA
ETFS Physical Gold – ASX: GOLD
VanEck MSCI International Quality ETF – ASX: QUAL

Lonsec Active Fixed Income Fund of the Year

Finalists

Ardea Real Outcome Fund
Macquarie Income Opportunities Fund
Pendal Short Term Income Securities Fund

Lonsec Property and Infrastructure Fund of the Year

Finalists

Australian Unity Healthcare Property Trust
ClearBridge RARE Infrastructure Income Fund (Hedged)
Quay Global Real Estate Fund

Lonsec Alternatives Fund of the Year

Finalists

Hamilton Lane Global Private Assets Fund (AUD)
Man AHL Alpha
Partners Group Global Value Fund

Lonsec Emerging Manager of the Year

Finalists

Daintree Capital Management
Eiger Capital
Sage Capital

Lonsec Innovation Award

Finalists

iShares Core Corporate Bond ETF (ASX: ICOR)
Magellan FuturePay
Robeco SDG Credit Income Fund (AUD Hedged) – Class B

 

 

SuperRatings Fund of the Year Award

Announced on the day.

 

 

 

 

 

SuperRatings MySuper of the Year 

Awarded to the fund that has provided the Best Value for Money default offering.

Finalists
AustralianSuper
Aware Super
CareSuper
Cbus
Equip
HESTA
Hostplus
QSuper
Sunsuper
UniSuper

SuperRatings MyChoice Super of the Year

Awarded to the fund with the Best Value for Money Offering for engaged members.

Finalists
AustralianSuper
Aware Super
CareSuper
Equip
Hostplus
Mercer Super Trust
QSuper
Sunsuper
UniSuper
Vision Super

SuperRatings Pension of the Year

Awarded to the fund with the Best Value for Money pension offering.

Finalists
AustralianSuper
Aware Super
Cbus Super
HESTA
Hostplus
QSuper
Spirit Super
Sunsuper
TelstraSuper
UniSuper

SuperRatings Career Fund of the Year 

Awarded to the fund with the offering that is best tailored to its industry sector.

Finalists
Cbus Super
HESTA
Hostplus
Mercy Super
TelstraSuper
UniSuper

SuperRatings Momentum Award

Awarded to the fund that has demonstrated significant progress in executing key projects that will enhance its strategic positioning in coming years.

Finalists
Active Super
Cbus Super
CSC
Equip
Hostplus
TelstraSuper

SuperRatings Net Benefit Award

Awarded to the fund with the best Net Benefit outcomes delivered to members over the short and long term.

Finalists
AustralianSuper
CareSuper
Cbus Super
HESTA
Hostplus
UniSuper

SuperRatings Smooth Ride Award

Awarded to the fund that has best weathered the ups and downs of the market, while also delivering strong outcomes.

Finalists
Aware Super
BUSSQ
CareSuper
Cbus Super
HESTA
QSuper

SuperRatings Infinity Award

Awarded to the fund most committed to addressing its environmental and ethical responsibilities.

Finalists
Active Super
Australian Ethical Super
Aware Super
Christian Super
Future Super
HESTA

Release ends
For more information, contact:
Rob Hardy
Robert.Hardy@lonsec.com.au
1300 826 395

August was another strong month for equity markets however some storm clouds have reappeared amidst the collapse of Evergrande, one of China’s biggest property developers, as the Chinese government sought to stem excessive borrowing leaving the heavily indebted company with over $400B in debt. The main concern is that the collapse may have a flow on effect on the Chinese property market, which has grown at an incredible rate, and ultimately impact the Chinese economy. We have seen some evidence of contagion reflected in high yield markets and other property markets such as Hong Kong. Markets are also watching what direction central banks will take on their asset purchases programs and whether they will seek to taper the programs and if so to what extent.

From an asset class perspective, we are still supportive of risk assets despite some of the risks mentioned earlier, as bonds, including government and corporate bonds, offer limited relative value in the current environment. However, we continue to see asset valuations rise notably in Australian equities. We continue to monitor valuations looking for opportunities to take profits where applicable.

We are also observing an increase in the dispersion in returns on an asset class, country and stock level. We believe that such an environment is increasingly supportive of an active approach to asset management. We also believe that ensuring that portfolios are diversified in their exposures will become more important in the coming 12 months. One of our main challenges is identifying diversifying assets in the current environment and Lonsec’s investment committees are working hard to identify appropriate assets.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: This document is published by Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583, a Corporate Authorised Representative (CAR 1236821) (LIS) of Lonsec Research Pty Ltd ABN 11 151 658 561 AFSL 421 445 (Lonsec Research).  LIS creates the model portfolios it distributes using the investment research provided by Lonsec Research but LIS has not had any involvement in the investment research process for Lonsec Research. LIS and Lonsec Research are owned by Lonsec Holdings Pty Ltd ACN 151 235 406. Please read the following before making any investment decision about any financial product mentioned in this document.

DISCLOSURE AT THE DATE OF PUBLICATION: Lonsec Research receives a fee from the relevant fund manager or product issuer(s) for researching financial products (using objective criteria) which may be referred to in this document. Lonsec Research may also receive a fee from the fund manager or product issuer(s) for subscribing to research content and other Lonsec Research services.  LIS receives a fee for providing the model portfolios to financial services organisations and professionals. LIS’ and Lonsec Research’s fees are not linked to the financial product rating(s) outcome or the inclusion of the financial product(s) in model portfolios. LIS and Lonsec Research and their representatives and/or their associates may hold any financial product(s) referred to in this document, but details of these holdings are not known to the Lonsec Research analyst(s).

WARNINGS: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any express or implied rating or advice presented in this document is limited to general advice and based solely on consideration of the investment merits of the financial product(s) alone, without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs (“financial circumstances”) of any particular person. Before making an investment decision based on the rating or advice, the reader must consider whether it is personally appropriate in light of his or her financial circumstances or should seek independent financial advice on its appropriateness.  If the financial advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of a particular financial product, the reader should obtain and consider the Investment Statement or the Product Disclosure Statement for each financial product before making any decision about whether to acquire the financial product.

DISCLAIMER: No representation, warranty or undertaking is given or made in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in this document, which is drawn from public information not verified by LIS. The information contained in this document is current as at the date of publication. Financial conclusions, ratings and advice are reasonably held at the time of publication but subject to change without notice. LIS assumes no obligation to update this document following publication. Except for any liability which cannot be excluded, LIS and Lonsec Research, their directors, officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability for any error or inaccuracy in, misstatement or omission from, this document or any loss or damage suffered by the reader or any other person as a consequence of relying upon it.

Copyright © 2021 Lonsec Investment Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 608 837 583 (LIS). This document may also contain third party supplied material that is subject to copyright.  The same restrictions that apply to LIS copyrighted material, apply to such third-party content.

Important information: Any express or implied rating or advice is limited to general advice, it doesn’t consider any personal needs, goals or objectives.  Before making any decision about financial products, consider whether it is personally appropriate for you in light of your personal circumstances. Obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement for each financial product and seek professional personal advice before making any decisions regarding a financial product.