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Super fund members increasingly going digital to plan their retirement

As a growing number of baby boomers prepare to leave the workforce, funds are enhancing their technology to better inform members about their retirement income options.

Two large industry funds – the $83 billion HESTA fund and the $80 billion REST fund – are finding there is a growing appetite by members either approaching or in retirement for their digital technologies.

HESTA, which has more than one million members across the health and community service sectors, has had nearly 100,000 use its new app to help them plan their retirement strategies.

Its online digital tool, Future Planner, helps members examine how different actions, such as increasing contributions, adjusting investment options or changing retirement dates, might affect their retirement outcomes.

  • Members can then choose further advice and support to help them plan and progress towards their long-term financial goals. 

    Since the app was enhanced in October 2023, another 33,000 members have used it, with nearly half requesting further in-person advice.

    HESTA CEO Debby Blakey (pictured) said women – 80 per cent of the fund’s members are female – were increasingly using digital tools to help plan their financial futures.

    “We’ve seen a real shift in how our members want to engage with their superannuation. Our members are often shift workers and are balancing busy lives and want to access support on the go.”

    A wave of baby boomers will retire in the coming years with HESTA anticipating 13 per cent of its more than one million members will retire in the next five years.

    “We know women will have a different experience of retirement. They are going to live longer and have broken work patterns, and our research shows that one in four of our members will finish work earlier than expected for various reasons,” Ms Blakey said.

    “So, it starts with listening to women and understanding their retirement needs. Digital technologies help us to start that conversation. So often, women who access trusted financial expertise discover they have more choices than they thought and can make a real difference to their financial position.”

    REST Super, which is approaching two million members of which many are in the retail sector, brought its advice service in-house in mid-2017 and launched its digital tools later that year. Although interaction with its digital technology remains low – about 30,000 a year in 2023-24 financial year – it is growing.

    REST General Manager, Advice and Retirment, James Webb, said: “Our older members nearing retirement are the heaviest users of digital advice tools on a per member basis. Over the past three financial years, about 20 per cent of digital tool use was by members aged 55 and over, despite those members making up only 11 per cent of our membership.

    “What this reflects is a desire by members to receive simple, convenient advice on single topics. Many people want financial advice, but often don’t know where to start.”

    REST’s advice service offers three distinct layers so members have a starting point and can then progress through the layers:

    • Education, information, and calculators (including general advice)
    • Digital advice tools (intra-fund advice)
    • Personal advice provided by phone-based advisers

    Webb concluded: “Our focus is on delivering education and advice to our older members, so we are looking to broaden the suite of digital advice tools to drive greater uptake among this membership cohort.”

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