I recently heard a line that really piqued my interest; “it would be nice to spend on something other than compliance”. This line really got me thinking, after Stronger Super – what then? What will superannuation funds be investing their IT dollars in?
The big phrase on the street at the moment is member engagement – I think we can safely say that there will be a significant flow of focus to this area post Stronger Super compliance.
Achieving engagement increasingly means a tactile and rich online experience for members – being able to make contact and interact at any time and really see and ‘feel’ their super. The process of making the experience a reality is at the very least underway for most funds – it would be an understatement to say you are behind the times if you don’t have some sort of online presence for members.
As members edge towards retirement, their level of interest and engagement naturally increases. Now, that’s great, engagement is the Holy Grail, however, what we need to remember is that it doesn’t end with engagement; at the point of engagement your focus needs to switch to retention.
In order to retain this engaged portion of the population it becomes about providing control. It is in the pursuit of this heightened level of control that members often explore their options and transfer out to SMSF.
As members seek control of their super, their needs and demands become more sophisticated in terms of their interaction with funds. Retaining these already-engaged members means that the sophistication of the technology that supports member interaction will also need to improve.
We are now seeing the integration of online tools and calculators, and facilities for automated, yet (importantly) meaningful and actionable advice based on real information about the member. This is fast becoming a key differentiator in terms of engaging and retaining members – stepping beyond being able to ‘look at’ super online, towards being able to ‘do something with it’.
To date, many funds have undertaken building their online member services themselves; however, the level of sophistication required going forward means that this will become less viable.
The ‘intelligent’ personalised experience that will become the expectation means more than a simple interface; it requires an underpinning of sophisticated real-time analytics, as well as being underpinned by administration technology that can respond to members’ instructions in a seamless manner.
An elevated level of complexity will necessitate a richer functional and technological basis than most funds can cost effectively and gracefully develop internally. This will increasingly mean outsourcing technology requirements in order to gain the desired level of sophistication and service for members.
My prediction for the future of superannuation IT is a change in landscape in terms of member service. Funds across the board are seeking to engage with their members through greater online service and interaction. The future is going to be about an extension of this; retaining members with a sophisticated and personalised online experience and delivering control.