The better use of technology and social media could help super funds increase their engagement with members, the ASFA conference in Sydney was told last week.

Don Hess, managing director of product services at JP Morgan Retirement Plan Services, said that “data smarter” communications could be harnessed to initiate conversations with members on the “adequacy” of their retirement savings, a discussion which often boosted engagement.

Don Hess, managing director of product services at JP Morgan

 

“If we have the information we can tailor the engagement we have with people,” said Hess.

“So the way I talk to someone under 30 on a moderate income who is disengaged is different to the way I talk to someone over 50 with a large income.

“But in all cases you can go through their situation with them and show them there is a clear benefit to be taken from acting and engaging with your retirement savings.”

Hess said that in these conversations a fund representative would go through a member’s retirement projections and the ultimate adequacy of their lump sum.

“If you say to them, what you are doing translates to a retirement income of $50,000 a year but if you do this differently it will be $60,000, then the person can immediately see the benefit of what you are talking about,” he said.

“But you can only have these discussions if you have the information and that comes from the effective use of your technology.”

Hess has been active in the US in operating JP Morgan’s member communication and education philosophy called Audience of One, which aims to “connect the money to the emotion” and motivate members to take responsibility for their savings.

Members exposed to the Audience of One program between 2005 and 2012 showed a 31 per cent increase in their overall income replacement levels.

“But in the US we have struggled to convince people to save anything in the first place, as they are usually so focussed on paying down debt,” he said.

“Even with our best efforts the average saving is 6 per cent, so we have to burn a lot more calories to get any savings and the savings that you see are much less than they are in Australia.”

 

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