Ask most people about superannuation and the yawns come thick and fast and eyes glaze over. Despite it potentially being the gateway to a secure retirement, superannuation is something most people check once a year and just hope the numbers go up.

It is a weird catch 22, where funds don’t want their members too engaged in case they make bad investment choices, yet they spend a fortune on campaigns every year just to drive a single action like updating contact details. 

How Big is the Super Pot?

According to ASFA, superannuation assets in Australia totaled $2.8 trillion at the end of the March 2019 quarter. It’s the fourth biggest pension fund in the world and there are an estimated 500 Superannuation funds in total. 

There has been an ongoing battle between Retail Funds and Industry Funds since inception, Industry Funds are profit to members whereas Retail Funds are profit to shareholders. This has created an interesting culture clash over the years, with each side accusing the other of being either too politically aligned or too conflicted to deliver the best service. Either way, the Australian Pension system is one of the best in the world even with all its flaws. If only we could make it a little easier to engage with and follow.  So how can super funds change that?

Make Us Care. 

Super funds generally keep their members at arm’s length, and they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They can’t really give financial advice, just the complex facts, and don’t want to encourage members to be too engaged in case they make uninformed decisions about investments.

What they can do, is tell us how we’re doing in a way that connects on an emotional level. Give us a bit of love when we hit a milestone and if we are not making contributions, send us a message saying how much it could help our future if we do. But do it in a way that makes us care. Finances are personal. Superannuation could be aspirational. It represents hopes and dreams, life beyond work, travel, and security. Make us feel like the future is brighter if we stick to it. 

Be More Member / Customer-Focused

The focus from Super funds has always on acquiring Employers and the reliance on default funds in the workplace. It’s how the system was designed. But that is changing with the employment landscape. It’s easier to change funds, you can take your fund with you to a new job and fintech means individuals are becoming more accustomed to personalised information. As rolling over gets easier and apps like Raiz get in on Super, it’s going to become a battle of the brands. Returns count, but if a customer is enjoying a financial experience in a mobile app with a visual dashboard of investments and Round-up contributions and is then invited to ‘roll-over’ their funds with the click of a button, who do you think they will choose?
Individual member or customer acquisition is costly but there is an opportunity to engage now, retain and grow.

Make It Easier

Having a visual dashboard of your super balance, insurance, and investments all in one place so you can easily make contributions should become the norm.  The digital member cards from industry funds got popular and made life easier, but members are ready for the next iteration of accessible information.

The retail funds have the advantage of bank accounts and Super being in the same place. A growing percentage of the population need to pay themselves Super, so automated contributions and micro-savings should be an option. It’s easy, immediate and it’s inclusive. 

Talk To Us Like Humans

The number of people who don’t know they have life insurance or can get affordable income protection is RIDICULOUS! It’s one of the best things about Superannuation but it means the message is not getting through. Insurance through superannuation is much more affordable because of the group buying power. The Barefoot Investor probably had more impact on superannuation insurance education in five years, than all the super funds in the past thirty. 

Improve Customer Service

The spikes in calls, emails, and complaints to funds are usually when the market is not crash hot or there is a big change in something like insurance. Then everyone gets angry, they call up, enter their membership number, select the department, to be told that ‘due to unexpected demand, your call cannot be answered’.

It happens every time and if everyone is trying to call, it usually means they are angry, scared, confused or disappointed – and not understanding the updates. Most funds try to anticipate and prepare accordingly with brochures, email campaigns and in-person events. Times have changed, so maybe update the delivery method so we don’t want to shoot the messenger.  

Take Us On A Learning Journey

It’s a new era for financial education. It’s not just Gen Y or Gen Z who live on their phones. Older semi-retired folks are one of the biggest users of online banking and Facebook, so we can safely assume that mobile phones are the tool of choice. No more dull, boring and generic financial literacy. Financial wellbeing is a big focus around the world right now, as 40% of the world’s total population doesn’t meet the basic financial literacy standards.

Australia sits at 30% and superannuation can potentially be the single biggest investment in a person’s life. But the workforce is changing. Jobs are not for life and many aren’t full time. People are going to need financial literacy more than ever to help them save, contribute and make informed financial decisions.

The good news is that we now have the tools to make sense of the data in legacy technology, so super funds will be able to deliver timely, relevant and lifestyle-based content, that is not based around very general categories like ‘passive or active’’. Podcasts, sound-bytes, communities and industry-based tips can become the norm, where people actually enjoy engaging with their financial future. 

Make Better Use Of Data

It’s a big challenge overcoming legacy tech and all the data layers that don’t speak to each other. This is the challenge all financial institutions face and it’s going to be survival of the fittest. We hear rumblings from big industry funds around customisation and data analysis but it doesn’t really seem to have moved beyond semi-personalised statements.

The life-stage messages are still popular don’t seem to be based on anything beyond age and the assumptions that go with that. The biggest concern for super funds is member retention. Data analysis is providing some predictive insights around potential roll-overs into another fund, but getting us engaged to start with seems like a better idea. 

Improve the Partner Rewards Delivery

For anyone who has tried to reap the rewards from their industry fund, whether it’s movie tickets, sports tickets, events or points, it seems to be so damn hard. We see the huge logos at every event, get random emails that invite us to click on a link, sign up to the partner site, add more details and maybe download an app, and then at the end of it, we have just lost thirty minutes of our lives, and have nothing because the deal is only offered in another state or has expired.

Then we go to the live game, see the logo on the guernsey and wonder why the hell we don’t have better seats. For anyone who has the Raiz app, the partner rewards options are delivered thick and fast, maybe too much, but it demonstrates how it can be done. Often because they are industry-specific, the rewards are quite appealing.  I am sure the partners would appreciate the increased engagement and ROI too. 

Really it all comes down to taking us on a financial journey. We are in the age of experiences and superannuation can no longer stay in the ‘safe to ignore’ category. With all the mergers going on within industry super, their member loyalty may no longer be to the industry, but it can certainly be to the fund if the fund acts now. 

Navag8 is a white label financial technology tool for super funds and banks to engage their customers.

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