Australian Retirement Trust: Merger puts members first

05 April 2022

One of the country’s largest superannuation funds was formed recently when Sunsuper and QSuper merged to form Australian Retirement Trust, which now takes care of more than $200 billion in retirement savings for two million members.


Welcome to another edition of Fast Five – our fortnightly series where we ask Victoria’s most influential and exceptional business leaders five questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of some of Australia’s most dynamic businesses.

The merger will have a significant impact on the two organisations that have managed their members’ super for a combined 140 years. Of greatest interest will be how they can leverage each other’s strengths to provide a better outcome for their members.

In this edition we spoke to Dave Woodall, Australian Retirement Trust Chief Growth Officer, to gain an insight on the merger process and what it means for all parties involved.

#1: We know from experience that mergers require a huge amount of effort from both organisations. Why did Sunsuper and QSuper decide to merge?

As two of Australia’s largest super funds, Sunsuper and QSuper have taken care of their members’ super for a combined 140 years, so it was not a decision that either organisation entered into lightly.

Importantly, there was no imperative to enter or progress the merger. It was quite literally a merger of equals, which is unusual in the industry right now. QSuper had $130 billion in assets and 500,000 members. Sunsuper was smaller in size with $97 billion in assets but with a larger member base of 1.4 million.

The decision really came down to whether a merged fund would serve the interests of members – Sunsuper’s, QSuper’s and the merged funds.

The significant due diligence over the past more than two years satisfied both funds’ boards that the two strong funds, when combined, would be better for members together.

#2: What will the merged fund, Australian Retirement Trust, help to deliver for members?

Our size and scale as a now $230 billion fund with two million members will undoubtedly allow us to deliver benefits to members.

In particular, strength in markets will give us the ability to access more and larger investment opportunities. Scale will enable us to capitalise on these opportunities and drive down costs. And the efficiencies that scale will afford will allow us to provide enhanced products and services, and lower fees.

In fact, we’ve already announced that the administration fees from member accounts for most members will decrease from 1 July.

#3: What were some of the aspects of the merger that really stood out to you throughout the process?

There are a number of things I could mention, but I’ll limit my answer to just two.

The work and commitment of both legacy fund teams. Finalising the largest and most complex merger ever in the Australian superannuation industry doesn’t happen, and happen successfully, without enormous effort and collaboration.

The unwavering commitment of both funds to continue to deliver for members and support our employer clients through the merger process. That both funds continued to service their members and employer clients and grow the funds throughout the merger process is again a credit to both teams.

#4: What will the focus be for the next six to 12 months to position the trust in the short term?

With our public sector heritage in Queensland, large national employer base and ongoing partnership with external financial advisers, we have created a diverse and resilient organisation.

The next six to 12 months will see us continue to support our members to and through retirement, and service our employer clients to make meeting their super obligations as easy as possible, and helping them to support their employees’ future financial wellbeing.’

#5: What excites Australian Retirement Trust about the future?

Two million members is just the start for Australian Retirement Trust. We know that further growth will continue to create scale benefits for members.

This scale will also allow us to build on our systems and services to employer clients. And, as the second largest fund in Australia, we also now have a bigger opportunity and responsibility to be a respected voice on behalf of our members in our industry and the broader community.

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