Andrew Proebstl: Life after legalsuper

By Elizabeth Fry

Outgoing legalsuper chief executive Andrew Proebstl has no plans to exit the superannuation industry.

Proebstl foresees big opportunities for funds to differentiate themselves and succeed in an environment where they are forced to manage more and more while coping with increased pressures on fees.

The longstanding executive will leave the super fund after almost 20 years in the top job.

While Proebstl plans to take a break before embarking on his next career move, he would like to keep his hand in some areas of the industry and is also open to non-executive director roles.

While the industry remains fixated on consolidation - CareSuper and Spirit Super are the latest to flag a merger - Proebstl says there are only so many mergers left to do.

"Over the years, funds have used mergers to increase their scale. Funds have also used investment performance to build their brands and to attract and retain members," he said.

"Stapling has changed the way funds attract members and there is a significant opportunity for funds to further differentiate themselves by delivering highly personalised member experiences at the time the member needs them and via the channel that suits them."

Proebstl said funds are working on this, adding that "the ones that get there first will for sure be ahead of the pack."

The legal super chief executive thinks another opportunity is for funds to revisit the balance between insourcing and outsourcing by exploring the concept of a shared services operating model. "Funds don't differentiate themselves based on back-office functions," he argued.

"There is an opportunity to take a fresh approach and move towards a shared services model for back-office functions," he said.

Proebstl noted that services that might fit such a model include regulatory/compliance, risk management, company secretariat, tax governance and optimisation, internal audit and cyber risk management.

Services would be tailored to a fund's particular needs.

"What are the services the fund wants to 'own' itself directly? What are the services it wants to outsource? A shared services model would  deliver cost savings and a pooled capability with deeper expertise and capability," he stated.

Historically, he went on to say, industry funds outsourced most functions.

More recently, funds have been building their internal investment teams.

"With super funds being required to manage more and more, they need to employ operating models that optimise the balance of insourced and outsourced capabilities that deliver on these requirements in the most cost-efficient way, maximise quality outcomes for their members and simultaneously manage fee pressures."