Navigating the unchartered retirement phase without a formal roadmap (as yet) is complex. But when a passionate group of professionals from across the super ecosystem convened recently in Melbourne, a multitude of ideas and strategies about ways to move forward were on the table. ASFA—with partners TAL, Challenger and KWM—was delighted with the engagement and atmosphere at the Spotlight on Retirement event which, judging by the response, may soon become a permanent annual calendar event.

The road ahead for retirement

Jeremy Cooper, former Deputy Chair of ASIC (2004-2009) and former Chair of the Super System Review (2009-2010) opened the event with an insightful keynote. Nearly ten years since he delivered his landmark Super System Review report, Jeremy says there are some key issues to overcome for funds to deliver meaningful retirement income solutions and meet government and regulator expectations.

Do we need to look deeper at member behaviour? Are funds progressing in collecting sufficient member data to tailor solutions to their requirements? Do we fully understand life expectancies and their impact for funds implementing lifetime income solutions? Jeremy spoke with chair Maree Pallisco from EY in an absorbing session.

Next, PwC’s Nicole Oborne led a discussion between TAL’s Ashton Jones, Ben Hillier from AMP and noted academic Dr Geoff Warren, who spoke of the benefits of retirement defaults. They looked at how other markets have utilised them, and discussed auto-enrolment for retirees, from both member and trustee perspectives.

Following on, three fund members – Tina Vogdanos representing the 30s cohort, Nick La Galle (40s) and Tracey Matthews (50s) – joined a panel discussion chaired by Deloitte’s Andrew Boal, looking at how the world of work has changed and shared their financial journeys so far, their hopes and needs for retirement – as well as how their funds could help them.

The blend of having people who work in super (so not total strangers to the issues) but not in the zone that speakers and delegates operate in was a stroke of genius. The panellists were all outstanding, but I could have listened to Tracey Matthews all afternoon. She brought to life the financial and familial challenges that nearly all of us face in a very engaging way. Andrew [Boal] did a great job drawing it all out.

ASFA should bottle the DNA of this session and incorporate it in future events.

What did the regulators say?

Mike Cornwell and Valya Prouzos from APRA, and Jane Eccleston from ASIC, in a panel discussion chaired by KWM’s Sarah Yu, outlined how superannuation trustees are supporting their members under the retirement income covenant and how strategies are being executed,

Chaired by Michael Quinn of QMV, the next session dove into the world of algorithms to learn ways to best personalise outcomes for customers. Microsoft’s Susan O’Neill explained how data capture helps organisations like Netflix make immediate recommendations for the next bingeworthy shows and identified where there may be opportunities for superannuation to leverage members’ online interactions to perhaps enhance their retirement outcome.

In session six, AustralianSuper’s Shawn Blackmore, Brnic Van Wyk of ART and Jacki Ellis from Aware Super joined a panel discussion chaired by WTW’s Nick Callil to analyse the Chief Retirement Officer role as well as funds’ operating models required to deliver on retirement expectations and outcomes.

Aaron Minney, and Meher Edibam from Challenger joined Equip Super’s Alexis Harrison in the next session and discussed whether/why retirees are reluctant to spend their super, despite the safety net offered by the Age Pension.

The super and aged care debate was under the microscope, following recent suggestions that part of superannuation should be ‘ring fenced’ to provide aged care. Professor Briony Dow from the National Ageing Research Institute and Mercer’s Will Burkitt looked at the role super can, or should, play as members and their families age.

The last, but not least, session was on advice. With the Government expecting funds to play a significant role in providing advice, the panel—comprising Jon Standen from HESTA, Sara Dix from Vanguard, Melinda Howes from KPMG and chaired by Lara Bourguignon from Entregar Partners—discussed how advice can be delivered in a holistic way and at scale.

The Spotlight on Retirement event provided delegates with an enlightening view of retirement issues through fund, member, and regulator lenses and provided much fodder for further discussion and action.

Many of the topics and issues raised will be explored further at the ASFA Conference on 28-30 November in Adelaide. So, if you are interested in gaining a better understanding of the top-of-mind topics impacting the superannuation industry, view the program and speaker line-up here.