A successful launch of its digital advice offering earned VicSuper the gong for Innovation and Transformation at the 2018 Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards.
Conexus Financial head of institutional content Amanda White presented the award to VicSuper chief executive Michael Dundon at a black-tie gala dinner held at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney on March 8.
Dundon said it had been a “long hard road” since the fund first embarked on building its new robo-advice tool three years ago.
“Looking back, probably what I am most proud of is that we took the time at the start to really listen to members about what they needed first,” he said.
Since the robo-advice advice offering was launched, more than 13,000 VicSuper members have used it. Many of them went on to produce a Statement of Advice and took actions to improve their retirement outlook, such as initiating additional contributions or updating their investment options.
Dundon said work was ongoing to further enhance the platform.
“We’ll be nudging people back in and so we want to make sure they can jump back in where they left off,” he said. “It is also a priority to make sure people know they can call us if they don’t want to use the online tool”.
Other finalists in the category were: REST Industry Super, Russell Investments Master Trust, Statewide Super, and Sunsuper.
White, who chaired the judging committee, said the award recognised the fund deemed to have demonstrated the greatest innovation or transformation within its operations, structure or products, designed to underpin improved outcomes for fund members through better performance, lower costs, enhanced services or a combination thereof.
“Each year, we receive many fantastic entries for this award and it is so positive to see the industry grappling with issues and trying to solve them,” White said. “At the core of the Conexus selection criteria for all of these awards is the member. This year, in Innovation and Transformation, VicSuper stood apart by building an industry-leading advice engine entirely for the benefit of its members.”
White noted VicSuper had spent many years studying the requirements of its members and creating a framework to best engage with their needs and encourage better decision-making through a friendly and accessible interface.
“The implementation of this innovative product has created engagement with members far beyond initial expectations and can only be described as a runaway success,” she said.
About the awards
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked all the winners and finalists for their contribution to making Australia’s superannuation system “even better”.
“There are few industries that have such significant and far-reaching effects on people’s lives,” Turnbull said. “One of the important ways we can build a better superannuation system is by encouraging and awarding innovation and excellence…Tonight’s awards do just that.”
While there are many other awards nights on the industry calendar, the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards are unique in that they are not aligned with a research or ratings house, and do not charge funds to participate. Actuarial and consulting firm Rice Warner assists with quantitative analysis.
The judging committee comprises California State Teachers’ Retirement System chief investment officer Chris Ailman, Fund Executives Association Ltd (FEAL) chief executive Joanna Davison, CHOICE chief executive Alan Kirkland, Financial Services Council chief executive Sally Loane, Rice Warner chief executive Michael Rice, and former minister for financial services and superannuation, the Hon. Bernie Ripoll.
Australian Prudential Regulation Authority deputy chair Helen Rowell is a special adviser to the judging committee, which remains the only truly independent awards panel in the sector.
“APRA views sound governance practices as fundamental to the delivery of value for money outcomes for members,” Rowell says. “I was, therefore very pleased to see the steps taken by the judging panel this year to enhance the approach to assessing governance and give it more weight in determining the winners in various categories.”
The 2018 Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards are produced with thanks to platinum sponsor AIA Australia and event partner FEAL.
“AIA is honoured to sponsor the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards, because we feel this is a great way of recognising the important work funds do, looking after millions of members,” AIA Australia head of corporate and master trust clients Anthony Clough said.
“As a purpose-led organisation, AIA has a partnership philosophy at the heart of our business, and funds are amongst our most important partners in the industry.”
Nearly $50,000 was raised on the night for the event’s charity partner The Wayside Chapel. Conexus Financial would like to thank guests for their generosity. If you would like to add to the tally, you can still donate via The Wayside Chapel website.