From the CEO August 2021

3 Aug 2021

Dear all,

At the start of this financial year, I realised I was tiring of mentioning the pandemic, covid and all things lockdown in my column and I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it!  However, can I just say that my thoughts are particularly with those who reside in NSW, and I wish you all a speedy exit from lockdown.

Rate-the-raters acknowledgment

In very pleasing news, Zenith has come out on top in the first part of Money Management’s 2021 ‘rate-the-raters’ survey (Fund Manager Feedback) in five out of seven categories, including for our research methodology, personnel quality and the strength of feedback provided to fund managers. This is a valuable acknowledgement from the funds management community and a credit to the quality, hard work and dedication of our research team, their review process and research rigour. More detailed information about the survey results is available here.

Responsible Investment framework

At the end of June, we completed the rollout of our responsible investment (RI) classifications across the 878 funds on our Approved Product List. This is an important milestone, as advisers now have access to a comprehensive tool enabling them to differentiate between funds and identify those products best suited to clients seeking to add ESG sensitivity to their portfolios.

The research team employ detailed qualitative analysis to classify each fund, rather than rely on manager self-assessment questionnaires which can be subject to ‘green washing’. Combined with their access to each fund’s portfolio holdings during the review process, this provides a high level of investigative rigour for advisers when making investment decisions on behalf of their clients.

Our RI Classifications are now available to all subscribers in our Product Assessment Reports, sector reports and via the Mosaic portal. For more detailed information, I recommend you read this article by the Chair of our Responsible Investment Committee, Dugald Higgins.

Growing demand for managed accounts

Not surprisingly, 2020/21 saw strong growth in demand for managed accounts. Fuelled by the increasing administrative and regulatory burden on financial advisers, the greater confidence and comfort in the managed account structure and the inherent challenges of portfolio construction and management created by COVID19, growth in the popularity of managed accounts continued strongly to the end of the financial year.

Zenith now manage over $2.7 billion in managed accounts (as at 30 June 2021) with greater access to our public menu managed accounts via a range of platforms (AMP North, HUB24, Netwealth and BT Panorama). While I believe our strong portfolio performance has contributed to this growth in demand, the flexibility, transparency, investor reporting, compliance rigour and convenience managed accounts offers both advisers and their clients will undoubtedly continue to drive this growth into the future. 

Superannuation sector facing into more change

Through the lens of our Chant West business, we’re acutely aware of the changes impacting the superannuation sector and ultimately every Australian as a participant in the superannuation system. Your Future Your Super has heralded a number of changes for the sector, such as the new annual performance test, ‘stapling’ of funds to individual members, and the introduction of the government’s Your Super comparison tool, with mixed reactions as to whether this will solve the problems it set out to address.

Chant West’s General Manager, Ian Fryer, was a guest in a recent podcast tackling the topic of the great consolidation trend in the sector, what's driving it and whether it will solve some of the challenges the sector has been grappling with. Listen to the podcast for a great perspective on this interesting and complex topic.

Team news

Lastly, I want to highlight a significant milestone for a key member of our team – our GM and Head of Research, Bronwen Moncrieff. Bronwen recently celebrated an incredible 10 years with Zenith. She has made an immeasurable contribution to the business over that time, and so much of her expertise, considered and professional engagement, and methodical approach to her role is deeply embedded in the respected research team that she manages. Our thanks and congratulations to Bronwen for her hard work and commitment over the last decade.

Stay well and take care.

David Wright

Chief Executive Officer

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