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UniSuper chief executive Terry McCredden
has called on the expertise of an old colleague from his Telstra Super days as
part of a $6 million project which involves remediation of the Acurity administration
platform adopted by the fund in 2006. Helen Radatti, former chief information officer
at Telstra Super, who worked with McCredden when he was the corporate fund’s
chief executive officer, has joined UniSuper’s business systems committee as an
independent member. The project is being managed by the self-administered fund’s
technology division but supervised by the business systems committee, which
oversees all of UniSuper’s business systems projects.

Paul Murphy, executive
manager marketing and business development at UniSuper, said the scope of the project
included assessing the degree of customisation required for the Acurity administration
platform, which the fund has used for its accumulationphase products since
2006. During the conversion to the platform, which is owned by Financial
Synergy, UniSuper experienced problems and at one point 1660 members were unable
to access any information about their accounts. “We have idiosyncratic
products, unusual products, and when you buy an off-the-shelf system you have
to make a call about how much you customise it, or how much you adapt the
product to conform to the system,” Murphy said.

“Elements of [the project]
would be about remediation. One of the things about systems is to what extent
are things automated and to what extent do you have to do manual work-arounds. Ideally
what you want to have is a system that automates as much as possible, that
reduces delays you might have in things like distributing statements to members
every six months, because we run six-monthly statements. “Getting the system to
produce more things automatically would be a part of the brief for this, and to
reduce the manual work-arounds where they’ve been needed.” Murphy said Radatti,
who was appointed to the business systems committee in March, is familiar with
the Acurity system, having used the admin platform during her time at Telstra Super.

Despite the $6 million budgeted for the project for the 2009-10 financial year,
he said it was not “an enormous project” for an organisation of UniSuper’s scale,
and represented less than 10 per cent of the fund’s operating budget for the
year. “There is some extra complexity in our product range because we run a defined
benefit fund and we’ve also got pensions, so there are various technology platforms
that we need to run to manage all those things, and they’re all in-house,” he
said. “We’re in a dynamic industry with a lot of regulatory change – every time
there’s a Budget there’s a new set of requirements.

Compared to other funds where
there’d be an external provider that did all that, we’re one of a handful of
funds that has to do it ourselves. Having said that, we’re a big fund so we’ve
got the scale at which it makes sense to [self-administer].” The business
systems committee has five members including its chair, Professor Janice Reid,
who is the vice chancellor of the University
of Western Sydney; Doctor Susan Gould,
an employer trustee from the University
of Newcastle;
independent member Graeme Matthews and member-elected trustee Michael Coyle.

 

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