WIFS: Leading the charge on engaging super fund members

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry crystallised what many superannuation funds, financial advisers and consumers had all already been thinking – funds need to do better in gaining trust and engagement from members.

2018’s Money Management/Super Review Women in Financial Services Awards’ Super Executive of the Year and Aon Hewitt principal, retirement and investment, Jenny Dean, was making headway in achieving this long before the Commission, overseeing Aon Master Trust’s rebrand to smartMonday in 2017.

What’s in a name?

At its core, the rebrand – which Dean says went beyond just a name change to deeper cultural reform – was driven by a desire to make the brand more approachable, engaging and member-centric.

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“Aon Master Trust wasn’t the most exciting name in the world,” Dean says. “It’s a legal name … it had no resonance or cut-through with members.

“Our clients are the members, and a super fund needs to have a business to consumer brand, [whereas] Aon is a business to business brand.”

There could be lessons for funds looking to increase member engagement here.

Since smartMonday launched, unique log-ins on the member portal have jumped, with members entering the portal showing heightened engagement with the fund. General satisfaction from members with their relationship with the brand also grew, going from 45 per cent positive/very positive ratings before the relaunch to 54 per cent 12 months after.

Perhaps most interestingly for an industry renowned for struggling to engage members in the present (there’s no need to rehash the realities of future discounting), ambivalence from members toward the fund also dropped. Sitting at 40 per cent before the rebrand, it was down to 33 per cent a year later.

From an employer default perspective, Dean says they’ve also been getting “some great feedback” from corporate clients.

Putting members first

Dean also cites cultural change through the smartMonday transition as key to improving members’ experiences with the brand.

“It’s easy [for staff] to get stuck in a complaints and compliance cycle and that can be worrying,” she says. The fund worked to make sure staff better understood what superannuation, at its core, tries to do, however.

“Now staff understand more how their job impacts the members,” Dean says, pointing to insurance claims as an example. “They know superannuation helps members take action and control of their financial futures, and funds help them do that when they don’t have to.”

More than just improving staff morale, this then taps down into how members are treated. Dean cites a well-known Richard Branson quote in explanation: “If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your customers. Simple.”

Even service from call centres has improved – monthly surveys of those members who’ve had experiences with a contact centre that month have recorded on average 80 per cent satisfaction ratings for the last year.

It’s not just those in the contact centre who deal with members’ problems, either. Cuts from call centre calls are played to the wider smartMonday staff so that they can get more of a sense of what members are worried about.

Part of improving customer-centricity has involved delving into an area most funds are traversing: understanding member behaviours.

And understanding the motivations and behaviours that drive members attitudes toward and decisions around money has wrought some surprising results.

“For example, we’ve seen that our learnt behaviours have an even bigger impact on our behaviours with money than our life stage,” Dean says. Family attitudes and cultural background are two such factors.

“So, it doesn’t make sense to send a blanket email for transition to retirement to all 55-year-old members. We’ve stopped segmenting on that … and now we may need four or five emails to different types of member, for example.

“We’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve come a long way, but we’re still dipping our toes into what members what from their super and their finances.”

While the transition to smartMonday is still a work in progress, Dean believes that above all, its success depends on not just doing things the way they’ve always been done.

For an industry experiencing a trust deficit from its members in a time of industry upheaval, there could be a lesson in these words from the 2018 Super Executive of the Year. 




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