The launch of a new flagship retirement-income product, ‘FlexiChoice’, will be a key focus for UniSuper in 2017.

UniSuper chief executive Kevin O’Sullivan has highlighted the need to develop appropriate post-retirement solutions as one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at large.

Transforming legacy not-for-profit organisations into digital-savvy modern entities and keeping up with the onslaught of regulatory change are among the other industry-wide challenges the $55 billion default fund for university employees is on the front foot in addressing.

UniSuper is a finalist for the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017 in six categories: Best Insurance Offering, Default Fund of the Year, Pension Fund of the Year, Member Services Fund of the Year, Best Advice Offering and Large Fund of the Year (for funds with more than $10 billion in assets).

Investment Magazine will feature Q&As with all the finalists, ahead of the winners being revealed at the awards dinner in Sydney on March 9.

Here, O’Sullivan runs through UniSuper’s priorities for the year ahead, as he sees them.

What was the biggest development at UniSuper in 2016?

Some highlights for UniSuper in 2016 included our continued strong investment performance for members, growth in our advice business, further improvements in members’ digital experience and work on our innovative retirement income product.

Although UniSuper’s returns were more subdued than in recent years (due to generally weak global sharemarkets), over the long term, we’ve fared well against other funds.

UniSuper’s advice business experienced significant growth in scale and capability over the past year and a number of new purpose-built member centres opened across Australia. Our advice team saw more than 6700 members and delivered personalised financial advice to more than 3300 members. We also increased the number of on-campus consultants to 22, servicing every university across 115 locations.

Continued heavy investment in technology and relevant systems – which form part of our broader digital transformation program – makes it easier for our members, employers and other stakeholders to engage with us online.

Recent initiatives include simplified member statements, a new budget calculator, a new on-demand webcast platform, and a ‘click-to-chat’ feature on our website to allow members to interact with a UniSuper consultant in real time.

What do you expect to be your biggest area of focus in 2017?

 Our purpose remains to deliver greater retirement outcomes for members through our defined benefit, accumulation and pension options, while maintaining low fees and continually innovating to deliver enhanced products and services.

Work has commenced to build and implement our new flagship retirement income product, FlexiChoice. It has been designed specifically for the unique needs of the higher education and research sector and will give members choice and flexibility during their working lives, including the ability to build a reliable income to enjoy in retirement.

Making further improvements to enhance the digital experience of our members and employers will be another high-priority area.

What do you consider the most important measure of success for the fund?

Ultimately, what makes us a successful fund is delivering greater retirement outcomes for our members by providing great value, excellent service and relevant choice.

 What is the biggest challenge facing the industry? 

There are many challenges facing the industry and it is difficult to specify the biggest among them. I believe the following are at the top of the list:

  • Taking concrete steps to deliver truly relevant, appropriate post-retirement solutions to fund members.
  • Addressing the outcomes of the Productivity Commission’s inquiries into the efficiency and competitiveness of the industry.
  • Taking steps to ensure that Australians receive appropriate insurance through superannuation, and ensuring the public better appreciates their insurance arrangements.
  • Delivering investment returns to members at a time of lower expectations and global uncertainty.


The winners of the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017 will be unveiled at a black-tie event at the Ivy, Sydney, on March 9, supported by Vanguard and AIA Australia. You can purchase single tickets or tables for 10 by visiting the event website. The Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards proudly support The Wayside Chapel.

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