A life insurance tele-underwriting deal with TAL will enable UniSuper to provide more risk advice outside super, says executive manager of advice and employer relationships, Jack McCartney.

He says tele-underwriting will create greater efficiencies, enabling the advice to be offered under the super fund’s overarching fee-for-service model. “We want to bring our fee down as much as possible…there’ll be no commissions, so the members are going to get a much better deal price-wise.

Creating the arrangement has been simplified through UniSuper’s existing group insurance relationship with TAL.

“They’ve come back and given us some tools to make the underwriting service very cost-effective…through this integrated tele-underwriting, we’ll be able to do that on a fee-for-service basis.

“They know our claims experience, they know who we are and how we operate, so we’re just rolling out this system now so we can provide more insurance outside of super…[and] the client’s going to get a much better deal price-wise,” McCartney says.

“We know we can do this [within regulations]…we think the scope to providing that advice, and by having a more relationship-based service, people know who we are and are more likely to come back.

This is part of its strategy to retain more members inside the fund, while meeting best interest obligations to members through its intra-fund advice and private client advice teams. It will start by adding trauma insurance outside super.

“Retention in the fund has gone from 64 per cent to 74 per cent [in 12 months]…and this year we want to get it to 80 per cent,” McCartney says.

Growth of member advice

Catering for university employees and their families, UniSuper is among the top five industry super funds, with around 340,000 members and more than $50 billion in funds under management.

Funds under advice has jumped significantly, growing by around $1.6 billion in the 12 months to July 2015 to $5 billion, up from $3.4 billion in July 2014.

Increasing the fund’s contact with members by conducting more superannuation investment reviews has been a key driver of this growth. These have jumped 48 percent year-on year.

High standards for planners

To support this growth in demand for advice, including both intra-fund and holistic, McCartney says it requires more financial planners, but sets a high barrier to entry.

UniSuper’s full investment service team comprises around 100 individuals, which includes paraplanners, compliance, investment management and advisers. Of these, 26 are private client advisers, which are all required to hold the CFP designation.

“We want to attract the best of the best…we would find out of five people see, only one we would seriously talk to, we’re very fussy,” McCartney says.

“We pay very well, it is more salary-based, and there is a bonus. It works well for us, and as a result, since I’ve been here, we’ve had no turnover in advice. You can honestly give best practice advice in an ethical manner, every time.”

Join the discussion