MTAA Super and Tasplan to merge

Industry super funds MTAA Super and Tasplan have finalised an unconditional agreement to merge on 1 October 2020.

MTAA Super oversees over $13 billion in retirement savings for workers in the motor trades and allied industries. Tasplan is a multi-industry not-for-profit fund managing $10 billion in assets. The merger will create a combined national super fund with more than $23 billion funds under management and approximately 335,000 members.

The combined fund’s corporate and trustee functions will be based in Canberra, with satellite offices in Tasmania and other locations. MTAA Super’s administration services will be moved in-house to Tasplan’s Hobart facilities.

Fund Chairs, John Brumby of MTAA Super and Naomi Edwards of Tasplan, said the merger was driven by shared values and a desire to secure better member outcomes.

The merger comes as super funds face increased pressure to ensure they have sufficient scale to provide competitive products and services into the future.

Action needed to end women’s economic insecurity

First State Super CEO Deanne Stewart says urgent action is needed to remove the structural barriers that are contributing to increasing numbers of women retiring into poverty and homelessness.

Stewart said despite pleasing advancements over the past 20 years, women still faced significant cultural and structural barriers to achieving long-term financial well-being.

“Despite increased workforce participation and improvements in the gender pay gap, women still retire with 42 per cent less superannuation than men. That is 42 per cent less savings to pay for their basic needs such as housing, healthcare, energy costs and food,” she said.

Issues such as women dominating lower-paid, part-time and insecure employment, combined with the current gender pay gap, career breaks and caring responsibilities were impacting women’s economic security, not only through their working lives, but throughout their retirement as well.

Stewart said that employers need to seek innovative ways to attract women back into the workforce and support more of their male colleagues to access flexible work arrangements to share caring responsibilities.

“Policy-makers also have a fundamental role to play. By paying the superannuation guarantee on the Government’s paid parental leave, removing the current $450 per month superannuation guarantee threshold, and improving childcare support, some of the major policy impediments to Australian women saving for their retirement would be removed,” Stewart said.

Employees want flexibility and purpose

New research from Metlife Australia says that many Australian businesses fall short of meeting employee expectations around purpose, flexibility and training. Now in its fifth year MetLife Employee Benefits Trends Study 2019, surveyed over 300 employers and more than 1000 employees to better understand how employers can attract, engage, and retain the best talent through their benefits offerings.

While optimising employee benefits programs has become a top priority for corporates in recent years, Australian businesses are still falling short of employee expectations with many struggling to adapt to the changing working environment.

There is significant room for improvement when it comes to creating purpose-driven working environments with the study finding nearly a third (32 per cent) of employees lacking a strong sense of purpose in their jobs. This represents a significant opportunity cost for businesses, as employees with a strong sense of purpose are more satisfied with their job (84 per cent); more likely to feel engaged (82 per cent); productive (85 per cent); impactful (79 per cent) and successful (78 per cent).

Flexibility was another area where employers need to address if they want to embrace diversity in the workforce, with the results showing that more than half of women across Gen Y, Gen Z and Gen X employees surveyed regarding flexible work as a ‘must have’.

However, with purpose and flexibility meaning different things to different people, without a universally accepted idea of ‘purpose’ and ‘flexibility’, employers are struggling to implement benefits that meet employees’ expectations.

Training and development was a third area in need of improvement when it comes to employee-benefits. Despite access to training and development opportunities being identified as a ‘must-have’ by employees, only 50 per cent of employers report offering relevant training today.

With financial stress fast emerging as a leading cause of stress at work, often leading to serious productivity losses, the research also found that 72 per cent of employees want access to financial planning workshops or tools however only 31 per cent of employers are currently offering this as a benefit.

MetLife’s head of talent for Asia Pacific, Alex Sosnov, said that Australian businesses needed to face these challenges head on if they want to remain competitive in the fight for talent.

OnePath recognised for claims technology

OnePath’s group insurance claims technology has won the Community Innovation Trailblazer Award at the Salesforce Dreamforce 2019 Conference, in recognition of its use of data analytics and AI to drive claims performance.

OnePath’s Einstein tool utilises Salesforces data analytics to generate visual representations of the claims data to allow group insurance clients to identify key trends and outliers much quicker so they can develop initiatives to better manage claims in their fund.

OnePath’s head of propositions and group insurance, Gerard Kerr said this claims analysis helps group insurance clients more deeply understand their member base so they can make informed decisions that are in the best interests of their members.

New carbon dividend proposal gets community support

According to a UNSW survey, the majority of Australians support the introduction of a tax on companies that produce carbon to encourage a reduction in emissions. And almost 85 per cent of people believe Australia needs a clear policy that addresses carbon emissions and ensures energy supply is reliable and affordable.

The new survey explores attitudes to an economically modelled policy proposal for a market-based approach to reducing emissions through a company emitter tax that is redistributed progressively to Australian households. The proposed Australian Carbon Dividend Plan would tax carbon dioxide at $50 per metric ton (MT) at the source, such as a mine or well or port, with the revenue generated returned to every voting-age Australian at an estimated $1,300 a year each.

While designed to use the tax to encourage companies to reduce their emissions, the plan shows any price rises would be more than offset to consumers with three quarters of voting-age Australians to be financially better off. Those on the lowest incomes benefit the most.

UNSW Sydney Professors Rosalind Dixon and Richard Holden have released an update to their Australian Carbon Dividend Plan as well as the results of a community attitudes survey which finds that two of every three Australians believe climate change is the biggest challenge facing the world today.