The big news for MLC and Plum Super in 2016 was streamlining. Both brands sit within the wealth management arm of National Australia Bank, which merged five funds into one last year, making MLC Super Fund Australia’s largest retail superannuation fund.

With that completed, MLC executive general manager Paul Carter’s plans for 2017 are focused on further improving the member experience – particularly keeping the fund’s digital capabilities sharp – for now and the years ahead.

Together, MLC and Plum are Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards 2017 finalists in four categories: Best Insurance Offering, Member Services Fund of the Year, Best Technology Offering and Chief Investment Officer of the Year.

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

Here, Carter shares his thoughts on what’s important for MLC/Plum to consider when enhancing digital capabilities for members and the factors that are straining member engagement and confidence throughout the industry.

IM: What has been the biggest development at the fund in 2016?
PC: Our biggest development in 2016 has been the streamlining of our superannuation business, merging five of our super funds into one to create Australia’s largest retail super fund – the MLC Super Fund.
The MLC Super Fund now manages super and retirement needs for more than 1 million Australians, and has about $70 billion in funds under management. The fund includes NAB’s two main super offerings, Plum Super and MLC MasterKey.

This consolidation of our super funds will, over time, make it easier for members to move between various products within the fund as their needs change throughout their lives. This work is strategically important and lays the groundwork for our planned investment of $300 million in our wealth business, which includes a focus on better connecting with our members and educating them on their superannuation adequacy requirements, with a primary focus on digital capability.

We have already invested in the development of some tools as initiatives for enhancing our members’ digital experience. SuperMatch provides members with the ATO’s capability to deliver streamlined consolidation. Also, SuperSizer is a web-based tool that allows members to see how their super is tracking relative to their peers’.

What do you expect to be your biggest area of focus in 2017?
Our biggest focus in 2017 will be on continued investment to ensure that our members better connect with their super and are in the best position to meet their retirement goals. Digital capability will be one of the leading concerns and a key component of NAB and MLC’s 2020 strategy.

What do you consider the most important measure of success for the fund?
Member and employer satisfaction, as measured by Net Promoter Score is a major consideration. We also want to maintain strong levels of active member engagement, as measured by: the number of members using our education and advice capabilities (including seminar attendance, access to the website and online tools); whether members are contributing and consolidating their accounts with us; members’ average account balances and insurance levels; whether members are making active investment choices; and retention of members.

 What is the biggest challenge facing the industry?
The lack of member engagement continues to be the biggest issue facing the industry. Turning this apathy around will be like turning an ocean liner around; it will be slow, but with sustained progress, we can make a difference.

Superannuation has been the subject of political whims for too long and we’ve seen ongoing regulatory changes to the superannuation system affect member confidence. As the government looks to legislate the objectives of super, we would again say these objectives should be clear, measurable and robust, to ensure they target an adequate replacement income in retirement to mitigate generational inequity and gaps in living standards, as well as costly and destabilising interventions.

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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