Parents must teach young women to take responsibility for their own super engagement, instead of relying on the government or industry to solve the alarming retirement savings gap, according to Sally Loane, chief executive of the Financial Services Council, and Craig Dunn, chair of Stone and Chalk.

Speaking at the Women, Super and Wealth Summit in Sydney, Dunn acknowledged role-modelling and policy from government was important, but said parents have a responsibility to prepare their children to be engaged with their money.

“I think sometimes as a community we look too much to government to solve everything,” he said. “It’s a complex world and I think, increasingly, we have to take more responsibility as communities, as parents, as individuals, to drive the agenda.”

In a family setting, that means setting behavioural examples, but it may also mean encouraging children to be proactive about future professional aspirations from a young age.

“I’ve encouraged all of our three children to do business studies at school because I think it provides a good backdrop to general financial literacy and helps them understand how some of the real world financials work,” Dunn said.

The former AMP chief was echoing the sentiments of Sally Loane, chief executive of the Financial Services Council, who recently wrote for Professional Planner and Investment Magazine about becoming a super engagement warrior for the next generation, after discovering her own “dismal” super balance.

“My absolutely [passionate concern] for my daughter, my very large circle of nieces, and the other millennials in my life, is that they do not repeat my history,” Loane said. “From the minute my daughter got her first pay packet, I said to her ‘What’s your super fund?’

“As individuals, we need to make a difference. You can’t leave it to government, you can’t leave it to industry, you can’t leave it to teachers. We’ve got to do it ourselves.”

Part of the action involves breaking the stigma around financial conversations, she said.

“We as individuals, whether we are in the financial services sector or not, have to say to our young boys and girls, it’s not awful to talk about money, it’s actually your freedom. Then, we hope, by the time young women and young men get their first pay slip, they’ve made a choice for themselves, they haven’t just left it and been disengaged.”

Investment Magazine was the official media partner of the Women, Super and Wealth Summit 2017. The Summit was jointly presented by the SMSF Association and Financial Services Council, with the support of the Commonwealth Bank.