When Investment Magazine journalist PHILIPPA YELLAND was instructed to consolidate her four super funds and write a diary of the experience, we were hoping for a tale of straight-through processing and customer satisfaction. We didn’t get one. In fact, she found many similarities between her experiences and those of ‘Josef K.’ in Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’, the classic story of a citizen tormented by a remote, inaccessible authority. “SOMEONE must have been telling tales about Josef K, for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested … There was a knock at the door and a man he had never seen in the apartment came in.” The Trial, Franz Kafka*
The brief from the editor seemed simple, plus it gave me the chance to mix business with ‘personal admin’. I’d sheepishly admitted to having numerous half-forgotten super accounts (some from jobs best forgotten completely), so I was asked to roll them into one and write about the experience. After all, if the ‘choice of fund’ system is to work as intended, such a consolidation should be a painless procedure which nobody would think twice about doing. Unfortunately, three months later, I must report the procedure is not painless. I did eventually get down to one super fund, but I’d rather be exsanguinated in Martin Place, have my teeth out without an anaesthetic, and put pins in my eyes than repeat the feat.
DAY 1 I’ve been warned I’ll need documents, lots of documents. From the bottom drawer, I rescue every letter I’ve ever been sent which mentions ‘superannuation’ and truck it into the office. A few hours later, I’ve sorted a decade’s documents into something approaching piles that equate to the indeterminate number of funds to which I seem to belong. Being a creature of habit, I think I’ll opt for the familiar and roll all my widow’s mites into Media Super. I go to its home page, but no such rollover option is immediately visible. “WHY can’t you just accept the situation instead of pointlessly insisting on trying to annoy us?”* I wonder if another of my funds will make it easier. I visit rest.com.au, and find its consolidation form. “For each fund you want to consolidate we need you to complete one form with: • Your current REST account details • The details of your old fund • Your personal details when you were a member of the old fund • Proof of identity • Authorisation so we can make it happen “Don’t forget your proof of identity!” the site booms at me.