Born out of the establishment of the industry super fund movement in the late 1980s, the Conference of Major Superannuation Funds (CMSF) celebrated its 20th anniversary last month. In this edited address to conference delegates, AIST CEO Fiona Reynolds outlines some of the major economic and social challenges facing Australia’s retirement incomes system and the $450 billion not-for-profit super sector.

There is no doubt that superannuation and the industry as we know it are at a turning point. The threshold of $1 trillion in funds under management has been well and truly passed, with projections of over $3 trillion by 2020 now commonplace in our thinking and policy outlook. The next 20 years will see us measured not just through the single lens of investment returns but in the social role we can play to improve our members’ lives and the society in which we all live. The new Rudd Government has initiated a series of reviews and – assuming it wins the next election – is going to need to establish a clear agenda for implementing the recommendations and work effectively with the super industry to harness the enormous potential of our growing savings pool.

It will need to make some hard decisions. The latest Intergenerational Report leaves no doubt that we cannot continue to put off much-needed reform. With no change to current policy settings, although we will move large numbers of people from full-to part-pensions, the Report foreshadows that by 2050 there is barely any improvement at all in the number of people who will be fully funding their own retirement. An ageing population, however, doesn’t need to condemn the nation to a miserable future. AIST sees both the Cooper and Henry reviews as a once-ina- generation opportunity to set a blueprint for retirement incomes policy for the next 20 years. AIST wants to see super policy that recognises the complex mix of individuals using the system.

A system that provides for the haves and the have-nots. A system that recognises that nearly half of our workforce is over the age of 45 and that the average SG over their working lives to date has been no more that 5 per cent – even lower for those who have taken time out of the workforce. We want a system that recognises that there are gender differences in the way we work and the number of years we live. AIST’s blueprint for the future includes:

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