A new retirement income solution won Australian Catholic Superannuation the Innovation and Transformation Award, from among a fiercely competitive field, at the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017.

The other finalists were HESTA, QSuper and Sunsuper, all of which demonstrated significant progress in the areas of operations, structure or products. It comes after last year’s judges chose not to award a winner in this category.

Australian Catholic Superannuation is a $7 billion fund for workers in the Catholic education, health care, aged care and welfare organisations.

“We are pleased to say this was a very close category, and the chair’s vote was used to determine the winner,” AIA Australia chief executive Damien Mu said.

Australian Catholic Superannuation has developed a new pension option that acts as a soft default. The product is an account-based pension that operates with a bucketing strategy with the member nominates what their drawdowns will be.

“It is a different approach to managing investments in retirement and allows a longer period of exposure to growth assets, and acts as a good hedge against sequencing risk,” Mu added.

Australian Catholic Super head of marketing and business development Cameron Wood thanked actuarial and consulting firm Rice Warner for their “many months of work” helping the fund develop its proprietary retirement income solution.

Within one month of being launched 150 members had signed up, and that figure now sits around 750 members.

“They sound like small numbers, but because we are a small fund of roughly 93,000 members, most of whom are still in the accumulation phase, it actually represents about 30 per cent of our 6500 retired members.”

Wood said the product was designed with the fund’s average member in mind, who is typically a 48-year-old woman who teaches in the Catholic school system.

“Now as those members move into the pension phase we have a default option for them that automatically re-balances. The product’s primary purpose is to assist members maintain their retirement income through all market conditions. Drawing down from the cash bucket, rather than from the bucket of growth assets, will prolong retirement income.”

Award judging committee member and Rice Warner chief executive Michael Rice abstained from voting in this category.

View the full list of winners across all 12 categories.

More than $86,000 was raised for the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017  charity partner The Wayside Chapel at the gala dinner to announce the winners in Sydney on March 9.  To donate to Wayside click here.

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