Tracey McFarland, acting chief of member experience at QSuper, winner of the Pension Fund of the Year award at the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards, says superannuation funds know they must invest differently when members reach pension phase, but QSuper is learning that it must also communicate with members differently.
“They’re in the pension phase, so we really focus on looking after the long-term interests of our members, so they have the income they need week to week to replace their pay cheque, so they can have the life they want,” McFarland says.
And “we find that our members what to talk to us more often”, she says.
“They come to see us at our seminars, and they are definitely on our website all the time,” she says.
“Whenever we have events for members in the pension phase, 99.9 per cent of them say they are on our website and our online tools – which absolutely blows us away, because we think of that as being for our younger people, but it’s actually our retirees who are most engaged and technology savvy.”
McFarland says pension members are vitally interested in where and how their money is invested.
“They actually ask us, where is my money actually stored?” she says.
“Is it in a bank? Where can I see it? What’s it invested in? Are you investing it in socially responsible assets? What countries? They are very curious about where their money is, and don’t just want to see the returns.”
McFarland says pension members also often want to know if their funds are being invested “in a way that aligns with their philosophy around their money”.
She says simple demographics are pushing more members into pension phase, but the definition of “retirement” is evolving as the numbers grow.
“They’re retiring to something,” she says.
“They’re retiring to start a uni degree or start a business or to start working part time, or to have a break for a while and then go back to working full time. So the notion of retirement is really changing in their minds.”
Awards that recognise funds that produce better outcomes for members are “a pat on the back [for staff] to say all the hard work and effort we put into thinking about how we make this product and service work for our members at this stage of their life, that it is recognised, that it is market leading, that the hard work is paying off”.
“So it can be great recognition and reward for our people,” she says.
And for fund members, “it really reinforces that we are thinking about them as an individual at their stage of life, and we’re not just treating them as a big pool of 500,000 members”.
“We think of each of them individually and we’re creating products and services for them, and they can trust us with their life savings,” she says.