The pace of change in the general technology landscape is staggering. From this, a new breed of super fund member has emerged, well versed in technology and comfortable in the digital space. The challenge for super funds is to now bridge the widening gap between digital literacy and financial literacy. While engaging via technology becomes second nature for many, the nuances of superannuation and the many important decisions that go with it are not necessarily something members are well-versed in.

So where should super funds be focusing their attention? What do members want, and how are they actually engaging with their super funds?

Looking at the digital landscape

The Digital Report looks at Australia’s top 50 super funds for 2019, based on funds under management. We then investigate each fund’s website, functionality and online services available to their members, as compared to those offered the previous year.

While technology is advancing at a rapid pace, this doesn’t necessarily translate to successfully streamlined online processes for members and super funds. In fact, looking at the decline of certain online offerings drives home the message that just because super funds can utilise certain technologies, doesn’t mean they should.

Particularly fascinating is the drop in chatbot uptake. There was a lot of talk in the financial services industry (and in the digital space generally) about chatbots being essential for successful 24/7 customer service. This led to many superannuation companies investing heavily in chatbots – yet only 8 per cent of super funds still offered this service in 2019 compared to 18 per cent in 2018. The substantial drop is one of the more notable figures from this year’s study, possibly reflecting the need for funds to put this strategy on hold until the technology advances and the service capabilities of chatbots catch up with members’ expectations.

What we have seen over the last few years is a greater diversity of systems and tools provided to the customer. This year, 6 per cent of super funds started using Single Sign On (SSO) capability for third party verification, whereas none used it last year. Given the diversity and the security requirements, we can see that SSO usage will most likely increase in the coming years.

There has also been an increase in live chat services. What’s driving super funds seems to be efficiency in engagement and using the tools at their disposal to ensure members can connect in whatever way meets their needs, at any given time.

Understanding your customers’ preferences

The survey has been part of our report since the first annual study in 2014 with customer experience questions establishing the most common activities that a member would need to undertake with their fund. Everything from viewing current superannuation balances to testing retirement calculators and everything in between, rated on a 10-point scale. So, what did we find?

As expected, the member journey is far from linear. While advancement in the digital space means that accessing information and setting up accounts has never been easier, members are nevertheless finding hurdles as they progress through the superannuation journey.

Looking at the customer experience, it’s clear that members transition away from mobile apps to laptop/desktop to complete more complex tasks. For some, this was as basic as investment details not loading clearly on mobile apps, with members resorting to laptops or desktops for improved page rendering on less responsive sites. For others, lengthy processing resulted in frustrating ‘time outs’ and re-entering of data on mobile devices.

Noticeably, there remain significant gaps in the user experience on mobile apps, for example not allowing members to alter their investment choices or to find Statements and Corporate Governance documents.

The role of innovation in improving customer experience

What has become most apparent this year is that many areas of online functionality have become standard. As is expected with digital evolution, what was once seen as revolutionary is now commonplace. This year we broadened the scope of our research by including a section of Innovation Interviews with nine thought-leaders in the superannuation industry.

We learnt that:

  • super funds need to take control of their data in order to better serve members’ interests and empower members to make informed decisions
  • super funds need to confront regulatory hurdles around the use of data in order to work towards straight-through-processing, greater accuracy and reduced errors
  • the implementation of real time reporting will give super funds the capacity to understand members, meet their needs, and predict behaviours.

AI, robotics, and paperless environments were also hot topics. These interviews gave us a clearer context and an insight into what is on the horizon.

Trends and strategies ahead for super funds

When it comes to the digital landscape, there is a massive opportunity to leverage. Super funds can speak to members and engage with them via more touchpoints than ever before. While this has the potential to create lasting and loyal relationships, funds that don’t adequately make use of the technology risk losing out to the competition.

While it’s vital for super funds to be fast-moving and agile, it’s essential to ensure a seamless customer experience and be led by a people-first rather than a technology-first approach. What other trends are overpromising and underdelivering? What are the basics that many super funds are still failing to get right (causing members to look elsewhere)? Does your long-term strategy align with where the industry is headed and what your customer wants?

To find out more, download the full report here.

To contribute your thoughts about what’s happening in the superannuation industry and anything impacting you and your members, you’re welcome to contact IQ Group at