The Super challenge: engaging the digital natives


Innovating to better engage with customers remains a key challenge for the superannuation industry as the environment continues to go digital, according to executives speaking at The 4th Annual Technology and Innovation – The Future of Superannuation conference in Sydney last week.

According to Paul Schroder, Group Executive – Membership at Australian Super, technology is changing people’s expectations on how they interact with their finances, and superannuation can no longer remain disengaged.
Schroder said the fund no longer owns the member, as members increasingly gain more control, “the member owns the member.”

Schroder also highlighted Gen Y as key to this challenge, due to their high adoption of technology, “there is no longer such a thing as online and offline, people are now digital natives.”

This theme was echoed by Julian Carroll, General Manager – IT at SunSuper, “technology for Gen Y is how they discover, understand and experience the world… it is real-time all the time.”

According to Carroll, this group trust their peer’s first rather than traditional advertising, and they want to engage, he said they are very cause-driven, and thus superannuation funds need to find a way to empower them to make decisions, and take on a coaching role.

He explained how SunSuper is doing this by aligning itself with causes, and engaging with members, through their program called SunSuper Dreams, allowing members to vote for a cause every month which the fund then donates to, using social media and their online presence to promote the engagement of its members.

Michael Weeding, Head of Digital at AMP said the successful funds will be those who respond best to changes in the digital environment, and disruption is changing the meaning of the product.

He pointed to engagement to deliver growth, “I think when we start thinking about super and applications to digital, and we need to start by making engagement simple.”

A key to making super simple is the consolidation of funds, which also emerged as a challenge for super funds now. Patrick Clarke, Head of Direct Super and Investments at ANZ Global Wealth pointed to technology as the answer. According to Clarke, paperless consolidation will increase competition, and therefore put further pressure on fees.

“The more people introduce paperless consolidation, it will be a lot easier to move from one super fund to another. Game on,” he said.