The industry should stop looking for the silver-bullet post-retirement solution, with service providers needing to tailor products to the specific needs of members, the Funds Executives Association Limited (FEAL) conference heard last week.

Post-retirement and the challenges it poses for member retention were a key focus, as heads of funds gathered in Sydney for FEAL’s annual conference.

Both retail and industry funds have seen members leak into the fast growing self-managed super fund sector in recent years.

Providing comprehensive services, including financial planning capacity, investment products that look to gradually shift from growth assets to a focus on income-generation and improving member communication were seen as crucial to addressing the needs of members entering retirement.

“A super fund without financial planning is like a hospital without doctors,” Paul Owen, Western Australia Local Government Super’s business manager told the conference.

 

A business and marketing game

In morning sessions Russell Investment’s global chief investment officer, Peter Gunning, outlined how aspects of defined benefit were being adopted in the defined-contribution space.

This included communicating to members their “funded status”, which provides a clear idea of how their investments are performing relative to stated retirement-savings objectives.

Gunning also outlined how target-dated funds and life-cycle funds that look to de-risk as a person ages and/or approaches retirement had “a better chance of success than sticking everyone into a 70-30 mix.”

Gunning predicted that if the industry is to comprehensively attempt to meet the needs of retirees, it should lead the adoption of more sophisticated multi-asset solutions.

JANA Investment Advisors’ chair and head of investment outcomes, Ken Marshman, warned the industry that adapting to the post-retirement challenge would require more than a focus on investment strategy and products.

“This is a business and marketing game. We can all provide something that is optimal, but the members might not want it,” Marshman told conference attendees.

Other sessions included a macroeconomic update, examination of case studies on how funds partner with other funds and service providers, and discussions of potential future government regulation of the superannuation industry.

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