Our super isn’t good enough. Here’s what needs to change.

Our superannuation system could do so much more to help Australians. Too many of us are finding ourselves retiring with too little, too late.

Thankfully, somebody is willing to lead by example and show the industry how it’s done.

Ian Silk, AustralianSuper’s chief executive, has just taken a stand for Australia’s retirees, challenging the whole industry to up its game; to give us what we signed up for: a fair deal.

All retirees want is to be able to afford their retirement years – in sickness and in health. This is what the superannuation industry promises. Yet many consumers who depend on the super industry are still left to wonder how they’re meant to sustain a future.

In a powerful speech delivered to super industry members all across Australia, Mr. Silk said super funds should not be congratulating themselves on making the most money, nor having the most members.

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He said a super fund should have two simple goals: “our customers, our members, having the best shot we can give them at a comfortable life, and their absolute confidence in the industry”.

“What we do isn’t just about money, it’s about people. Providing a solid foundation for people to build their lives and futures. It’s about their success, not ours”.

This is the least that should be expected of us given we manage two trillion dollars’ worth of the hopes and dreams of working Australians”.

Isn’t it enough for us to do what we are required to do by our Boards, by the regulators, by the Government?”

“No, it’s not. Not even close”.

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He challenged the industry to have a bigger, better ambition: to help as many members as possible reach a comfortable standard of income in retirement.

They should only consider this goal achieved when every Australian has this privilege.

“And that means everyone. Women, people with broken work patterns, the low paid, casual workers, indigenous Australians”.

“When working Australians trust and believe us, we will have landed”.

“And, just by going on the journey, we will deliver better environmental, social and governance outcomes. We will have changed our culture so we spend as much effort researching and helping people through their retirement years as we do on early childhood years”.

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By putting members first, Mr. Silk believes the entire country can prosper as a result.

“Success will help millions of Australians and the national economy. The benefits will last for generations”.

“It will restore the other great challenge we face – ensuring super fund members, and the community generally, have absolute trust and faith in the super system and the people and organisations in it”.

“If we fail to deliver, the consequences are dire. Australians will feel uncertain about their futures and confidence will wane. What a failure that would be given our industry was explicitly created to help alleviate worry for working Australians”.

But words are not enough.

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“It’s not about words. Not anymore. We’ve turned good words into clichés – integrity, sustainability, responsibility”.

“Volkswagen was apparently all about responsibility and sustainability – until we discovered that actually they weren’t. They were irresponsible and unsustainable”.

How, then, can these changes actually begin? Mr Silk suggested three goals every super fund should advocate for:

  1. Policies that will generate 12 per cent superannuation savings from the average wage
  2. Policies that address or compensate for broken work patterns (which has a particularly huge impact on women)
  3. Policies that encourage people to save for the long term.

“These three simple actions, when underpinned with confidence and trust, would create a thriving future for millions of Australians”.

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Do you agree with these powerful words? Should super funds be doing more to ensure a comfortable retirement for all Australians? And do you feel like your own super fund is doing enough?

This article has been sponsored by AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788, the Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898. The views expressed are those of Starts at Sixty and not necessarily Australian Super. For more information, please visit the AustralianSuper website.


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