Six Australian superannuation funds’ efforts at deeper engagement with their members have earned them a place on the shortlist for best technology honours in the 2018 Conexus Superannuation Awards.

The category is in its second year and highlights funds making the best use of technology to support members in managing their accounts and optimising retirement outcomes.

Finalists for the 2018 award, to be announced in Sydney on March 8, are AustralianSuper, BT Super, Cbus Super, HESTA Super Fund, QSuper and Russell Investments Master Trust.

BT, the inaugural winner in 2017, has again been shortlisted for its integrated wealth-management platform, which gives trustees and advisers access to self-managed super funds. The platform has been integrated into Westpac’s banking system, allowing customers to transact across all accounts. It has been a mobile app since 2016.

Also going mobile was AustralianSuper. More than 104,000 users have downloaded its app, which expanded this year to include pension and transition-to-retirement members, along with accumulation members.

Australia’s largest industry fund states that the app allows members to transact and allows the fund to send push notifications when an employer’s contributions are made, helping members follow up with their employer if payments are late or unpaid.

Cbus, one of the nation’s oldest and largest industry funds, states that the retirement spending planner calculator it launched in 2017 is an industry first and allows members to estimate how long their income will last at current drawdown levels under given scenarios.

“The planner recognises that real life is dynamic and that expenditure can be lumpy and unplanned,” Cbus chief executive David Atkin says. “It allows Cbus members to do up-to-the-minute ‘what-if’ calculations about their household retirement income.”

Health industry fund HESTA uses artificial intelligence to better understand its vast and varied membership.

The organisation has created a cloud-based analytics and AI platform called Ada, which helps determine what members want and what’s important to them, in order to make better decisions, manage data and offer a more efficient personalised experience.

Ada has drawn on the fund’s 830,000 members to help HESTA workers better understand existing customers and leverage this knowledge to attract new ones, the fund states.

HESTA marketing strategy executive Lisa Samuels says the fund focuses on putting member needs at the heart of any technological innovation.

“It’s been an exciting year for HESTA with the ramping up of our data capabilities and the launch of initiatives like ‘Liz’, our chat-bot, that’s allowed us to answer a range of standard queries, freeing our people to have more high-value conversations with members,” Samuels says.

Queensland public-sector fund QSuper has offered members a new way to contribute to their super by partnering with micro-investing platform Acorns, which takes change from every dollar purchased on members’ credit cards and invests it in their super.

The fund also highlights the use of its Money Map online wealth-aggregation tool, which provides a dashboard, creates budgets, sets goals and shares data with advisers and planners.

QSuper chief of member experience Jason Murray says the fund has reduced its administration fee by a further 10 per cent, the fourth cut in three years, as a result of technology investments.

“This fee cut comes at a time when our net promoter score [a measure of member engagement and satisfaction] has hit an all-time high, proving that efficiencies and cost savings don’t have to come at the expense of member experience.”

Finalist Russell Investments’ iQ Super launched its Super App 12 months ago, to give members engagement at a deeper level and make transactions easier.

Its popular “retire ready” simulator personalises members’ transitions to retirement, the fund states.

The 2018 Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards are sponsored by event partner AIA Australia. All the winners will be announced at a special black-tie event on March 8 at the Ivy Ballroom, Sydney. Tickets are now available. To book, click here.

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