The Superannuation Complaints Tribunal is seeing a greater number of grievances from retiring baby boomers querying their superannuation benefits, says chair Jocelyn Furlan.
Specifically, Furlan says she’s seeing more complaints from baby boomers who have been in super a long time and, having retired from senior roles, feel financially vulnerable in retirement.
Furlan said when there’s an error or unexpected event, such as an incorrect benefit statement to a delay in a payment, members in the midst of massive life change have difficulty dealing with the situation, and the incident escalates.
“…We often get transcripts of the calls between them and the super fund’s call centre, and they can be quite fraught, because this is a very senior person who has worked for 45 years under the impression they’re talking to someone in a call centre who’s younger than them and not on their wavelength,” she said.
“And they don’t want to give the impression of any financial vulnerability, so they’re over-the-top strong. And then when it goes wrong, they start to doubt the whole of their 45-year relationship with the super fund. So they question everything.”
While Furlan says the numbers of complainants aren’t substantial, she says “the resource drain is enormous”.
“And their complaints morph, so they start as one thing and then they get bigger and bigger, and… because they’re not working full-time anymore, they’ve suddenly got time to really delve into it.
“I guess I’m anticipating that there could be even more because of the number of baby boomers that are going to retire in the near future,” she said.
Furlan suggests funds should be more mindful of the psychology of baby boomers, many of whom intimately know their super, proposing greater awareness and a “language” consciousness in how they communicate with members.
“Everything falls apart and I think, possibly, a way to kind of defray that is for call centres to have a bit of a subconscious antenna, that these people might need treatment that they’re used to getting because of their seniority in their other lives.
“But I never want to tell funds how to run their business.”