After a slow start, super funds are much more innovative. Photo: City of Sydney SunSuper screen grab Photo: Supplied
Most people don’t think about their super until they hit their late 40s or early 50s.
Anyone who has not taken a close look at super for a long time will be surprised by how many investment options their funds offer them.
Advances in technology are allowing funds to offer a much wider range of investments.
As I wrote about last week, many super funds are taking advantage of advances in share-trading platform technology to allow members to invest directly in Australian shares at very low brokerage costs.
Funds are using technology in many other ways other than increasing the range of investments.
Industry super fund Sunsuper, for example, is in the vanguard of employing technology to engage their members online.
It has a retirement forecaster, which runs like a game with a weather analogy where the aim of the member is to take actions to prevent stormy weather in retirement.
Sunsuper says research has shown that it has better recall with members as it makes a more emotional impact than a dry set of numbers.
The fund also has what it calls the Dream Project, which is the education hub on its website with shareable content including quizzes, videos and interactive tools.
It’s all based on the principles of behavioural finance and “gamification”, which is where games are devised in order to encourage engagement.
The fund has built an online community where fund members enjoy the experience rather than feel like they are doing something dull, like learning about super.
Funds are also using technology to create much more tailored superannuation for members.
Most members remain in their funds’ default option for whole of their working lives and into their retirement years as well.
This option has the same asset allocation with a bit of tweaking if market conditions change.
Typically, the default option has about 70 per cent of the money invested in growth investments, like shares and property, with the rest in defensive assets such as cash and fixed interest.
The problem with that is younger members can afford to take on more risk through higher exposure to shares because they have the time to more than make up for any losses.
And members with only a few years left until retirement need to step down their risk and have more of their money invested in defensive assets.
This is where innovation is playing a role in tailoring their asset allocation to their life stage.
All those born in the 1970s, for example, that elect to invest in their fund’s “life-stage’ option, will be in an option with the same asset allocation.
As the 1970s cohort ages, the asset allocation is changed by the fund at regular intervals so that the cohort is invested more conservatively. The fund members don’t have to do anything.
While you are hearing a lot about how innovation is changing the face of financial services, you may be surprised by how much your fund has moved with the times.
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