LGIAsuper chief executive David Todd says investing in technology and marketing will be vital to the fund’s success in 2017.
It comes as the $10 billion super fund for local government employees in Queensland is set to go public offer in 2017, amid mounting competitive pressures on smaller superannuation funds to grow or merge.
Developing a new breed of flexible retirement income products is another high priority for the fund.
LGIAsuper is a finalist in the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017 in the category of Medium Fund of the Year (for funds with $5 billion to $10 billion in assets under management).
Throughout January, Investment Magazine will feature Q&As with all the finalists.
Here, Todd outlines his plans to see LGIAsuper thrive as a public offer fund in 2017.
IM: What was the biggest development at LGIAsuper in 2016?
DT: In July 2016, the Queensland Government committed to progressing legislation that will make LGIAsuper a public offer fund. The legislation was passed in December and is expected to take effect by June 30, 2017.
When it does, it will give LGIAsuper the opportunity to welcome new members from communities everywhere and offer choice of fund to our existing members who are local government employees. Building on the foundations previously laid to prepare for a future of increased competition and growth was a key area of focus for the fund throughout 2016 and will remain our biggest priority in the year ahead.
To bring greater clarity to the brand and eliminate confusion with other funds and organisations in the market, we evolved to become LGIAsuper (LGIA stands for Local Government Investment Australia). We also refreshed our look and feel and modified our logo to fully encapsulate our strategic direction.
Following the launch of our new name, and to support our move to become a public offer fund, we announced our partnership with rugby league team the North Queensland Cowboys. This was the first significant new partnership for the fund outside Queensland local government in more than 50 years.
What do you expect to be your biggest area of focus in 2017?
Retention and growth are vital to LGIAsuper’s ongoing success and will remain a significant area of focus for the fund during 2017 as we open our doors to new members across Australia.
Innovation also plays a key role in our future success. During 2017, we look forward to continuing to advance our capabilities in new technologies through a number of digital transformation projects, including a significant investment in a modernised administration system.
Last year, we undertook an extensive scoping, tender and evaluation process before selecting Bravura’s Sonata solution to replace our current administration systems. The new platform will underpin LGIAsuper’s future growth strategy by achieving strong operational efficiencies through the delivery of simplified and improved services to members and employers.
By design, it will also support the engaging web and mobile experiences we’re focused on delivering, such as an improved secure member portal, which we will officially launch in late January this year. LGIAsuper members will benefit from enhanced security features, improved functionality, intuitive navigation and a responsive design that scales to a phone, tablet, laptop or pc to optimise and personalise their online experience.
What do you consider the most important measure of success for the fund?
As we prepare for a future with growth, it’s important to stay in touch with the fundamental reason we exist – to help our members achieve a dignified and enjoyable retirement.
By all accounts, we’re on track. Independent market research shows 97 per cent of our members are happy with our services, while 78 per cent saw greater financial returns from their LGIAsuper accounts than from other funds.
Independent ratings agencies, including SuperRatings and Chant West, consistently recognise our position as a respected, strong-performing, member-focused fund.
What is the biggest challenge facing the industry?
Superannuation funds operate within an ever-changing and increasingly competitive landscape. An ageing population, ongoing economic and investment market uncertainty, continuous regulatory change and disruption through digital technologies are some of the many challenges confronting us as well as the broader industry.
If Australia’s superannuation system is to remain sustainable and equitable, it must – as the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has advocated – deliver the full needs of all Australians. A strong focus on the nation’s ageing demographic, the post-retirement phase of superannuation and the development of flexible retirement income products that are relevant and accepted by retirees will be priorities for the industry as well as LGIAsuper in the years ahead.
In pursuit of greater economies of scale, the industry will also continue to experience restructuring and consolidation as funds strive to meet their regulatory obligations as well as changing member needs, including expectations for strong returns, low fees, and sophisticated and innovative products and services.
We strongly believe that change, particularly increased competition, can present great opportunities for funds that are strategically prepared to embrace it, just as we are.
The winners of the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017 will be unveiled at a black-tie event at the Ivy, Sydney, on March 9, supported by Vanguard and AIA Australia. You can purchase single tickets or tables for 10 by visiting the event website. The Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards proudly support The Wayside Chapel.