L-R: Chris Cramond and Steve Travis

Aware Super has nabbed former AustralianSuper executive Chris Cramond to turbocharge the next stage of its digital transformation. 

Investment Magazine can reveal that Cramond, the former acting chief strategy and corporate affairs officer at AustralianSuper, joined Aware on Monday as head of member strategy reporting to group executive for member growth Steve Travis. 

The recruitment comes as Aware edges close to completion of Catalyst, the $150 billion fund’s digital transformation project. Its SuperStream contributions are now 99.9 per cent online, while non-SuperStream contributions are 91 per cent digital, the fund claims.  

Travis says he is “absolutely” confident Aware is the sector leader when it comes to member service and said a lot of other funds are still looking for solutions in the wrong place.  

“I think the industry is a better place than a year ago [on member experience],” he tells Investment Magazine. “But they haven’t made the large significant shift required to really accelerate them into the future.” 

“They’re probably still improving at a much slower rate than if they were to make this significant transformative investment.” 

In some cases, this is because third-party service providers haven’t yet made the investment, Travis said. But funds administering the transformation themselves tend to have another set of challenges.  

“Capital does have an impact, and you need board and executive commitment to that sort of strategy,” he said. 

“Yes, you can throw more people at the problem, you can train them, and you can think about process flows, which are old, traditional ways. 

“I think you could probably get away with not doing it [digitisation] in a world where what I would call the ‘old world of super’ where default was the predominant. 

“But ultimately, it comes down to making an investment in technology, because that’s the only way to do it at scale.” 

Travis says Cramond’s role sits at the intersection of digital, data and member experience. Aware now has an abundance of member data, and the next step is to utilise that and improve member experience in a way that will help the fund grow market share and retain members as many transition into retirement. 

“That’s really the broad mandate for Chris’ role,” Travis says. 

“He understood what it means to… work almost in collaboration with members to design the experiences that they want, and do that in a digital native way.” 

Rounding out the ecosystem 

The recruitment comes as many super funds attempt to ward off government and regulator criticism that member experience had been too low a priority, fueled by rising consumer complaints. Big industry funds have been especially singled out, with research by CoreData and Conexus Financial finding small and retail funds outperformed their large, not-for-profit peers on member satisfaction and retirement preparedness.

Aware Super CEO Deanne Stewart was present at a recent roundtable between profit-for-members funds and Minister of Financial Services Stephen Jones, initiated by the newly established lobbying body Super Members Council (SMC). The event was among the first public outings of the organisation’s chief executive Misha Schubert.  

She chose to reiterate industry super’s commitment to lift service standards and asked for supporting government initiatives to help speed up the claims process, signalling urgency within the sector to address the issue. 

As flagged by Aware Super chair Sam Mostyn at Investment Magazine Chair Forum last month, Travis says the fund is experimenting with artificial intelligence to pick some low-hanging fruit of member experience improvements.  

“The ones we picked at the moment is how AI can assist us in capturing sentiment, language and issue identification around the contact centre,” he says. 

“It allows us to react in the moment to, for example, an alert from the call centre that members are asking a particular topic. Then we can immediately build some training material and push back through the contact centre.” 

But this is established alongside strict AI governance and governance, he adds.  

As super funds are set to receive more advice scope under the Labor government’s final response to the Quality of Advice Review, Travis says Aware Super’s next goal is to optimise the technology ecosystem around the digital platforms.  

“When you’ve got an ecosystem where that richness of data is available to a fund, the question is how you bring that data and use it in a way that allows you to tailor, personalise, and improve the member experience,” he said.  

Join the discussion