One of Australia’s oldest financial services companies, IOOF, recently announced it had taken a minority stake in young digital service innovator GROW Super to develop new technology “engagement and empowerment” for superannuation members and advisers.

The multimillion-dollar deal puts an IOOF representative on the GROW Super board. It is the result of six months of talks, during which the companies found a common philosophy, says IOOF group general manager, wealth management, Renato Mota.

Digital strength

GROW will initially work with the $3.6 billion wealth management firm’s licensees and financial advisers to further develop a digital capability across a range of engagement points, Mota says.

“Anyone can engage, but helping people make better decisions is about empowering,” he explains. “[GROW] has a certain tech that we admire and we think that’s best in class. It’s a standout and we want to leverage it.”

The partnership will start with enhancing the wealth manager’s 200,000 corporate super members, including from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and Flight Centre, which have an average age of 37.

“GROW believes in helping people make better financial decisions,” Mota says. “We believe this is entirely aligned with our focus on financial advice and look forward to exploring this space together.”

Better service

GROW Super chief executive Josh Wilson says the collaboration will initially empower advisers to better service their clients.

“We’ve got our own product in the market and I’d say that has some features in it,” Wilson says. “Some of the storytelling talks to contextual life and goals they can understand in real-world terms.”

GROW’s Tinder-style insurance app allows super members to swipe left or right to customise their insurance needs in real time, solving the problem for younger super members who may be charged 80 basis points a year for premiums.

It also has predictive tools that “close the gap” between current and future savings and a factional investing app that invests small change from discretionary spending.

GROW did not have legacy software systems that prohibit development of new platforms and “had the advantage of moving very quickly to build something from the ground up”, Wilson says.

“Having a leader in the advice industry like IOOF partner with GROW Super is a testament to what we have created in the last 12 months and we’re really excited about being able to work together to help empower Australians to better superannuation, and ultimately life, outcomes,” Wilson says.

It’s been a busy six months for IOOF, which acquired ANZ’s OnePath pensions and investment business for $975 million in October.

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