Highlights of ASFA 2018

The ASFA 2018 Superannuation conference held in Adelaide this year. Firstly congratulations to the organisers for an excellent event. We were treated to two and a half days programme packed with a wide range of speakers from around the world focussed on the superannuation industry.

Day 1 Highlights

My first highlight of the morning was a deeply personal presentation by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. She talked about her family and political life and insights into how deeply committed were her father Robert Kennedy and her uncle J F Kennedy in addressing civil rights and liberty during a very tumultuous era.

My second highlight was Dr Adrian Blunder-Wignall who presented a fascinating quantitative review of the current global financial markets. His views of how numerous global financial indicators are at similar or exceed levels that we saw in 2007 before the GFC were sobering.

Day 2 Highlights

My highlight of Day 2 was Bill McNabb who is Chairman and former CEO Of Vanguard USA. An inspiring and impressive recount of the changes made under his leadership. I can see how his authenticity and clarity lead to building the $5 trillion dollar assets under management business, and where a focus on low fees and members has transformed the investment management industry.

Day 3 Highlights

And to cap it off, Day 3 speaker’s were outstanding.

Adam Alter, Associate Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern School of Business gave an entertaining and educational presentation on four key factors impacting members investing in their superannuation. He presented a mix of case studies and research based on a deep understanding of the psychology of members, particularly when they are young.

That was followed by Dr Richard Harris who performed the role of anaesthetist and cave diver during the rescue of the 13 Thai boys and their coach trapped in the caves in Thailand. It was an incredibly frank presentation reflecting on the dire situation the boys were in and the huge risks and challenges that their situation presented. He is a humble and gracious man and a most worthy recipient of South Australia 2019 person of the year.

As if that wasn’t enough, Richard was followed by Gill Hicks who again shared the chilling story of her near-death experience and losing both her legs in the 2005 London tube bombing. She spoke about how those challenges have shaped her “second life” and her work for her MAD for Peace organisation. Gill is focused on what she can do to deter anyone from following a path of violent action and believes everyone can make a personal difference to sustainable global peace.


From an AlphaCert perspective we found it invaluable to network with a cross-section of people involved in the superannuation industry all under one roof. We got a great deal out of the discussions on data, tech and AI, and how that impacts AlphaCert’s product roadmap.

It was a great opportunity to reconnect with many of our friends and partners and build new friendships. A very worthwhile 3 days and thanks again to the organisers – we look forward to ASFA 2019 in Melbourne.

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