SMSF awards 2017: Australian shares winner


By Penny Pryor

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Consistent delivery of what its advisers want, and their clients need, when it comes to Australian shares has seen CommSec take out the Australian share category for the third year in a row.

“The strategy has been fairly consistent and it’s really based on getting an understanding and more proactively meeting our adviser needs,” CommSec adviser services general manager Eric Blewitt says.

According to Blewitt, time and time again advisers will talk to them about the need for efficiencies and effectively delivering what their SMSF customer base wants.

“They say they want to grow their SMSF customer base, but they find it hard to do it effectively,” he says.

Blewitt has just finished implementing the CommSec Portfolio Service (in conjunction with Colonial First State), which is also in direct response to adviser feedback, over the past two years.

“It offers total reporting solutions,” he says.

“It enables them to grow their client base without growing their cost base.”

CommSec values the importance of adviser feedback and is constantly seeking their input.

“We commission a fairly substantial piece of research annually,” Blewitt says.

The study tells the company what it’s doing well (and not so well) across all of its products.

Qualitative analysis is also an important component of its adviser feedback.

“When we deliver things such as CommSec Portfolio Service, we do a lot of fairly intensive field testing. We get advisers into our innovation lab,” Blewitt explains.

These efforts pay off, with CommSec scoring higher in the research it conducts in terms of the service delivered through the relationship managers and the business managers.

“Digitalisation makes things easier, but then just understanding advisers’ businesses is vital,” Blewitt says.

For example, providing more articles that are specifically tailored to their client needs, which can be quickly forwarded to the client from their adviser, is something the team has been working on.

CommSec has a significant client base across equities that provides a good litmus test for wider SMSF trends. Blewitt says he is continuing to see a growing demand for exchange-traded funds (ETF) in the SMSF market, particularly in international equities, property and infrastructure, where the unique ETF structure enables SMSF trustees to find exposure to various international markets and asset classes on the Australian Securities Exchange.

“We specifically see an increase year on year in the appetite for ETFs from advisers for their SMSF clients,” he says.

“We have some really good relationships with the market makers … we’re able to get good prices on ETFs [for firms that trade a lot of ETFs].”

This is all thanks to CommSec’s massive size, scale and brand.

Blewitt says his team has not expanded greatly in the past 12 months, but CommSec continues to build the quality, adding people with a specific advice capability, and training an engagement and a marketing team.

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