Chris Cuffe covers all things investment and super at a recent Women in Super event

“Everyone wants to fix the system, that to me, isn’t broken.” This was finance industry guru’s Chris Cuffe’s assessment of the default superannuation system at a recent Women in Super lunch held at Sydney’s Doltone House.

At the packed event, the former chairman of UniSuper and one-time head of Colonial First State, shared his views on a raft of issues impacting the superannuation and wider financial services sector in a Q&A style session. Topics covered included:

Default super system: not so bad, after all – Cuffe admitted that he hasn’t always been such a fan of the default system, where those who don’t deliberately choose where their super funds will have them deposited in a fund by someone else. But over time he’s come to see the positives.

“The default system has created monoliths…as a result those players have built great economies of scale” which Cuffe added benefitted many due to bringing costs down while achieving good service and solid performance.

Unwinding of vertical integration: the merit of “banks just being banks” – When discussing how a number of banks and large financial institutions had acquired an array of different companies, from financial advice to insurance, Cuffe remarked that he wasn’t surprised to see some of these unwind. According to Cuffe, so much relies on the individuals servicing and doing these additional lines of business, that it’s a tough thing to keep consistent for the end consumer. When addressing the room, Cuffe said, “We’re dealing with big delicate brands here…if something goes wrong it taints your own brand.” Cuffe didn’t see banks slimming down operations as such a bad thing, stating they could then focus on “just being banks.”

Internalisation of funds management: consistency is key – Another hot topic for discussion was the decision for a number of funds to internalise funds management in an attempt to deliver further value for members. Cuffe believes this can work for those with the right scale. “It’s about turning a variable cost into a fixed cost… and making sure you can manage it to keep things consistent.”

Past performance is in fact a good indicator of future success – Cuffe holds a common-sense point of view of past performance over long term cycles as an indicator for future success. “For me, it’s not about any kind of wizardry…I prefer to keep it simple.”

Does A.I have a place in financial services? – When thrown a curve-ball question around artificial intelligence, a philosophical Cuffe responded, “We have to ask ourselves – where is the end-game and who will hold the power?

5 ways to kick-start your PR career

So, you’re starting a career in PR – welcome to the world of media monitoring, research, writing copy, and working on client accounts!

Since completing my Bachelor degree last November, I find it difficult to explain to friends and family what it is that I do for a living because there is so much involved!

PR is a constantly evolving industry and an exciting space to be in. I have learned that it is important to be adaptable ready for anything. For those like myself who are just starting out, here are my top five tips for starting a career in PR.

1.    Do your research

The effort you put in now to gain an understanding of the company you work for and the clients you are servicing will certainly make a big difference in future. At Honner, there are a flurry of financial terms that I am constantly ‘Googling’ just so I can understand what I am writing about!

The best way to start researching is by subscribing to newsletters and reading publications so you can become familiar with the language, journalists and environment you are working in.  Another great way is by just asking someone – most understand what it is like to be in your position and are happy to help.

2.    Look the part

When working in a corporate environment, it is important to look the part. Dressing professionally shows respect for the company and the client, and helps to create a great first impression.

3.    Manage expectations

As a grad, people understand that the role is new to you and will help you. However, it is important to get to know the preferences and expectations of your supervisors and colleagues so you don’t disappoint. Remember everyone works differently.

Some ways to do this include listening to the directions they offer, or simply asking them or others for suggestions on ways to measure up to your supervisor’s expectations.

4.    Develop a complete LinkedIn profile

I was recruited via LinkedIn, so this is an important one to me. Making sure your profile is up-to-date and well-written helps you to stand out and get a foot in the door. PLUS it gives you a chance to build your own personal brand – important in an industry that is all about branding

Of course, building and leveraging your networks on LinkedIn can play a large part at the start of your PR career. Aim to grow and improve your connections, share content and engage in online networking, either one-on-one or by joining relevant groups.

5. PR is about relationships
At the end of the day, PR is all about ‘who you know’. My tip for new grads starting out is to introduce yourself and get involved as much as possible. This may be by offering to help others or participating in social activities with your work peers.

Mentors can be another great resource to leverage in your early PR career. Seek out people who can help guide you and offer advice for whatever challenges you may stumble upon.

Public Relations presents many exciting opportunities and challenges, and I count myself lucky to be included in an amazing team at Honner who have introduced me to this wacky world.  My last (secret) tip is to remember to have fun, and enjoy what PR has to offer. You can do it!

It’s a Wrap – Honner’s quarterly media roundup (Q417)

What’s news?

Murdoch transforms his media empire; refocuses on news legacy with 21st Century Fox sale

Rupert Murdoch’s deal to sell most of 21st century fox to rival disney for a massive US$52.4 billion is set to dramatically reshape the media and entertainment landscape.

The divestment of the studio and TV assets, including a stake in pay TV service Sky and the 20th Century Fox movie studio, is part of the consolidation sweeping traditional media companies as they try to fight off the threat from Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Facebook.

The deal allows the 86-year-old media magnate with newspaper ink in his blood to focus on his news legacy. He’s keeping Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and FS1 sports cable channel, which will be spun off into a newly listed company, and News Corp (including the Australian News Ltd business he inherited from his father) meaning he’ll still continue to have the ear of political elites in the US, UK and Australia.

It’s a marked shift in the strategy of Murdoch who’s been headed in one direction for most of his life – buying, not selling. But there may yet be more afoot on the acquisition front. The Federal Communications Commission in the US recently moved to relax media ownership laws in local markets – which could allow Murdoch to buy up assets using cash from the Disney deal.

Watch this space.

Facebook overhauls news feed; Publishers braces for impact

Facebook has made sweeping changes to the kinds of posts and videos it users see. Its plans to prioritize shares by friends and families over news content from publishers and brands.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the changes are meant to maximize the amount of content with “meaningful social interactions”.

It means users will see less viral videos and less news article shared by media companies, sending publishers and marketers back to the strategy table to find other ways of reaching audiences.

ABC announces major restructure; Lateline gets the axe

ABC building South bank by Kgbo

The ABC revealed plans to axe flagship evening news program lateline after 27 years on the air as part of an overhaul of the national broadcaster’s current affairs schedule. Stan Grant’s Friday evening show The Link will also get the chop. Lateline host Emma Alberici will become the broadcaster’s chief economics correspondent, while Grant will be become chief Asia correspondent. The ABC plans to host two new shows in 2018: a current affairs discussion show at 9pm presented by Stan Grant, and a half-hour news bulletin at 10.30pm.

No sooner had the dust settled on the current affairs shakeup, then ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie unveiled one of the biggest restructures in the broadcaster’s 85-year history. From early 2018, the ABC will ditch its traditional TV and radio divisions in favour of content-based units. The main teams will be news, analysis and investigations; entertainment and specialist content including children’s programming; and regional and local content. There will also be a “content ideas lab” created to nurture new programs and ways of telling stories.

Meanwhile, the union responsible for ABC staff claimed employees are suffering from “dangerous” levels of stress associating with several rounds of restructuring at the broadcaster that have seen more than 80 staff made redundant, and former prime minister Kevin Rudd called for special laws to protect the ABC’s budget.

Seven West Media flags cuts, makes travel industry play

Seven West Media announced it’s looking to find $105 million in savings over the next two years, $25 million of which will come from what was labelled “headcount reductions”, as it plans to merge the newsrooms of the Sunday Times and The West Australian. Seven West Media purchased the Sunday Times in 2016, bringing Western Australia’s only two major newspapers under the same ownership.

Meanwhile, the media group made a play for travel industry revenues, launching an ecommerce platform 7travel. The platform combines travel content with an online booking platform that will be promoted across Seven West Media’s TV, publishing and online assets. The move comes as the media company seeks to evolve its offering beyond traditional TV and publishing.

Fairfax media spins off Domain; Pares community newspapers as “cost discipline” continues

Fairfax Media building entrance by Maksym Kozlenko

Fairfax shareholders approved the spin off and partial listing of its digital real estate business Domain. The motion to split the company was passed with a vote of 99.89% with no questions from assembled shareholders, and the decoupling was completed in november.

Meanwhile, Fairfax announced plans to shut six Sydney community newspapers and Fairfax Chief Executive Greg Hywood said “cost discipline” would continue both in the company’s metro and New Zealand operations as it continues to deal with declining markets outside Domain.

Questions over the future of Huffington Post Australia

The future of The Huffington Post Australia is in doubt after fairfax ended its joint venture with the owner of the digital news service, AOL.  A spokesman for HuffPost Australia said it would operate a standalone Australian edition from December with a smaller local team, adding: “If redeployment isn’t possible, regrettably redundancies will occur.”

Murdoch says his newspapers are struggling

Speaking at the News Corp AGM, Rupert Murdoch hailed the Times, the Australian and the Wall Street Journal as successes but said the company has its hands full making print viable. In response to a question about the company potentially purchasing more newspapers, the 86-year-old News Corp executive chairman said: “Not really. No. Our hands are pretty full making our existing papers viable. I think the big three successes we have are the three big national papers: the Wall Street Journal, the Times in London and the Australian. The other papers, a lot of them are still very viable, but they are struggling.”

As if to illustrate the point, the Australian said its digital sales now account for more than half of total sales for the masthead after a pick-up in digital growth over the past year, while print sales fell “slightly”, and News Corp said it will scale back the frequency of the manly daily to two editions a week.

Ten exits the ASX, ending two decades as a listed company

Ten’s time as a publicly listed company came to an end, after its acquisition by CBS past the final regulatory hurdle. After nearly two decades as a listed company and three months after CBS announced the takeover, ten was removed from the australian stock exchange in November. The network was bought by CBS after falling into administration.

ACCC to probe Google and Facebook over market power

The government directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to undertake an inquiry into the role of technology giants including Google and Facebook in spreading fake news stories and diverting advertising away from traditional media. Public and private hearings will be held in 2018 and a preliminary report will be prepared by December, with the final report anticipated in June 2019.

The ACCC also issued merger guidelines in the wake of recent changes to media ownership laws. The regulator said it will veto media mergers that reduce the amount of news or hurt advertisers, a position that seems unlikely to stand in the way of newspapers and TV networks merging. The guidelines show the regulator is aware of the big changes technology is making to the industry and that mediums that used to be completely separate now compete for an audience online.

Insights & Opinion:


© AdobeStock / Ingo Bartussek

Business Day contributing editor Michael Pascoe asks “what if murdoch is still foxing with disney?

Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, says Facebook’s news feed changes are bad news for democracy.

Guardian editor Katherine Viner says the digital journalism model is currently collapsing as Facebook and Google swallow advertising revenue.

Fairfax Media journalist Karl Quinn says the ABC restructure does little to fix the problems at the public broadcaster.

The Australian says the woes of the Huffington Post expose a broader digital revenue shortfall.

Quotable quotes:

“It’s important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world.”– Facebook CEO mark zuckerberg, on changes to the company’s news feed algorithms.

“Our hands are pretty full making our existing papers viable.” – News Corp Chairman rupert murdoch, addressing shareholders at the company’s AGM.

“It is a sad day for both journalists and audiences when such a respected, long-running program ends,” MEAA director katelin mcinerney on the axing of Lateline.

“We are not ready for the technological onslaught that is about to hit us.”  – ABC social media strategist flip prior speaking at a conference on publishing.