Deloitte’s Mason calls time on 40-year superannuation career

16 January 2024
| By Rhea Nath |
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Well wishes have been pouring in for superannuation veteran Russell Mason, who formally retired at the tail end of 2023 after more than four decades in the industry.

Across his vast experience, Mason has advised boards of large public sector, corporate, and industry funds.

Most recently, he spent more than a decade at Deloitte Australia, including over two and a half years as its lead superannuation adviser. He was also a partner for more than nine years, advising some of Australia’s largest funds on avenues like strategy, competitive positioning, governance, products, and insurance.

Prior to that, Mason played a fundamental role in building Mercer’s industry fund advisory practice and introducing its range of services to clients, serving in this role from 1987 for almost 24 years.

His expertise also extends to director roles, including at the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) where, following 30 years of active involvement in both the board and NSW executive, Mason was named a life member in 2018.

Mason will continue as an adviser on the board of NGS Super, which has described his work as “instrumental” in the $15 billion fund’s success and growth, and at State Super (SAS Trustee Corporation), where he has served since November 2022.  

In 2021, Mason had reflected on the significant merger activity between funds and predicted further consolidation over the next five to 10 years, driven by both regulatory and political pressures, a prediction that has since come true with numerous super funds opting to merge.

“Funds that fail to reach scale or underperform relative to their peers will struggle to survive unless they can transform their businesses, and quickly, and we expect to end up with a modest number of very large funds that will increase their foreign investments due to their size and the relative size of global opportunities compared to the small Australian market,” Mason said.

Years before the tranche of reforms announced in the Quality of Advice Review in November 2023, which now opened the advice arena to super funds, Mason had also advocated for funds and the financial advisers they employed to be allowed to deliver a broad range of advice, given many super funds had become financial institutions in their own right.

“I would like to see the funds and the advisers they employ able to give advice that covers my entire financial situation, not just one element of it which may be superannuation, which is likely the most important element,” he said in 2020.

“I want to be able to get advice that my partner and I can work together on and look at our retirement in a holistic point of view, not thinking that they can only advise me on super now. Where do I go to get advice about other things?

“So, I think financial planners in the area of super have largely had one hand tied behind their back. I’d like, within the realms of reasonableness, for them to have a greater degree of flexibility. To advise me on the situation without this artificial distinguishing between super and non-super.”

Since his retirement announcement this last December, many in the super industry have sent in their well wishes and congratulated Mason on his immense contributions over the years.  

Writing on LinkedIn, Mark Smith, partner, tech strategy and transformation at Deloitte, said: “Amazing career Russell and a top bloke too. It’s actually comforting to know you remain connected to the industry – I can’t imagine a world of Super without your name in it!”

Chris Davies, chief executive at TelstraSuper, said: “Congratulations on a wonderful career Russell and I’m sure there’s more to come.”

Shannon Goard, senior technical manager at TAL Australia, commented that Mason was “one of the long-term participants in this industry that always added value and balance to the discussion at hand.”

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) general manager for advice and approvals Bruce Lambert described the super veteran as “simply a legend.”
 

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