Local Government Super’s approach to achieving the best possible member outcomes is based on the idea of being so close to its key employers that it is actually thought of as “one of them”.
“We’re very fortunate that we have a great relationship with our employer groups – the councils – and we instil in our staff that our greatest compliment is to be thought of as a member of local government itself,” says Peter Lambert, chief executive officer of Local Government Super, winner of the Fund of the Year in the medium super fund category at the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards.
“If we can gain the trust of our members [and they] feel that we’re there to share the journey to helping them [achieve] a dignified retirement, that’s the kind of culture we’ve managed to instil.”
Lambert says LGS insourced several of what it calls “member touch points” about five or six years ago when it sold its interest in a business called Future Plus and recruited key people back into LGS.
“I took the decision at that stage that we actually wanted the staff, who were going to talk to the members, to work for us,” Lambert says.
“We hand picked a lot of people from that organisation and asked them to come across. It was very important that we started on the right foot and built a culture from the ground up.”
Being a mid-sized fund could leave LGS with neither the scale to operate as efficiently as larger funds nor the ability to be as responsive to members’ needs as smaller funds. But Lambert says it instead gives the fund the best of both worlds – it’s small enough to be close to its members, and large enough to operate efficiently.
“We think both from a member perspective, but also from the organisation size, we like to think we’re a large family and we can get a commitment from all the staff that you’ve got to believe in what we’re doing,” he says.
Those are important characteristics in the current volatile investment markets, when members are “getting their first negative half-yearly statement in six years”.
Lambert says a key part of LGS’s approach is “trying to ensure that people understand this is just part of a cycle and not to panic or do anything rash – that there is a long-term plan”.