SuperFriend celebrates 10-year anniversary in style

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David Atkin, the chief executive of Cbus, the fund which got the ball rolling with the industry’s recognition of the importance of mental health in the workplace, has joined the board of SuperFriend. The organisation, which is owned by 23 big funds and supported by the major group insurers, celebrated its 10th anniversary last week.

Atkin, who has been the CEO of Cbus for about nine years and before that was CEO of Media Super, takes over the director role held by Stephen Spillar, who is an executive manager of strategy at Cbus. Spillar was a SuperFriend director for four years.

SuperFriend, which started as a mental health awareness body and has grown to the point where it is also providing best-practice guidelines for insurers and employers, was the brainchild of Helen Hewett, then CEO of Cbus. She retired from full-time super fund management not long after championing the birth of the organisation, which used to have, in 2007, its one-person office in the Cbus head office in Melbourne.

Ten years down the track, under the chairmanship of Damian Hill, the CEO of REST Industry Super, and the daily leadership of Margo Lydon, SuperFriend’s CEO, the organisation has grown to 17 staff, looking out for the partners’ 7.5 million members, with an annual budget of about $4 million.

Fittingly, Hewett was present at the Sydney 10th-birthday function, with husband Rex, who Hill acknowledged as also being crucial to the support she required.

As is the way which such occasions, there were lots of thank-yous. Hill acknowledged the initial directors: Teifi Whatley at Sunsuper, David O’Sullivan at BUSSQ and Peter Gebert at Cbus. Hill was the fourth director and chairman from the start. He recently announced he would be leaving REST early next year to pursue other interests, and would probably be stepping down from SuperFriend too.

He also acknowledged the 12 super funds which were the original members and the initial insurers which provided financial and active management support. “I’m incredibly proud to have been chair of this organisation,” he said.

Margo Lydon, who joined SuperFriend in 2010, said there were many organisations to thank, who did pro-bono work which enabled SuperFriend to increase its reach among employers. These included accountants PwC, lawyers Holding Redlich, PR firm Honner, universities Monash, Deakin and UNSW, various charities and institutions, the ACTU and individual trade unions, the Industry Fund Forum, the FSC, the Actuaries Institute and the conference company and publisher Conexus Financial.

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