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IBM Australia is this month rolling out a new digital telephone system for its super fund administration clients, including the Watson Wyatt client funds which were transitioned from April last year. Watson Wyatt, which last year switched administration outsource part­ners from the former CitiStreet Austra­lia – subsequently bought by its former client Sunsuper – to IBM, has taken an active role in the new arrangement. It was IBM’s second big win of a group of corporate super fund clients, following a similar deal with Rus­sell Investments when it entered the Australian market two years earlier.

Watson Wyatt accounts for 45 of the 70 IBM-administered funds, which in turn account for about 300,000 members. Colette Colman, Watson Wyatt superannuation administration services manager, said her firm has retained the client servicing over the top of the IBM administration as well as technical consulting expertise on regulatory and legislative changes to super.

IBM runs the member call centre, but Colman, who visits the IBM offices two or three times a week, said the operators are encouraged by Watson Wyatt to “escalate” any member con­cerns with the service. She carries two business cards: one is the super admin manager for Watson Wyatt and the other is “quality manager, Asia-Pacific region”. Each Watson Wyatt client has a dedicated client service manager for admin provided by IBM. Some are admin-only clients but most use various other Watson Wyatt services, from hu­man resources to investment consulting and actuarial advice.

Richard Morgan, IBM executive, managed business process services, said the call centre was very busy for the first few months after the start of the global financial crisis in late 2007. But the concerned calls tapered off as the media reports of the general problems gained recognition. Watson Wyatt encouraged its super fund clients to keep up the communications with members as the crisis deepened and provided a script for the IBM call centre operators to explain the nature of the crisis.

IBM Australia has more than 1000 staff in its business process services divi­sion and more than 85,000 worldwide. While relatively new to this industry in Australia, Morgan said IBM “knows how to deliver processes in a repetitive and consistent manner”, which is a good thing in the world of super administra­tion. Morgan said that IBM’s vision for super admin is to be able to offer all members the ability to do whatever transaction they want through what­ever channel they want, be they phone, internet or letter. “Our philosophy is to have a flexible and responsive high-quality service,” he said.

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