New data from researcher Investment Trends suggests superannuation members who directly interact with their fund are both more satisfied and more confident with the service they are receiving, which could be a silver lining for the industry after it’s frantic efforts to facilitate early access during the pandemic.

The vast majority of members – 68 per cent – have sought some kind of guidance from their super fund, according to the 2020 Super Fund Member Sentiment and Communications Report, on issues such as fees, insurance and balances.

“Those who sought guidance tend to be more satisfied with their funds’ efforts to help them feel confident about the future,” the report states, noting that those who reached out had a “composite satisfaction score” of 72 per cent compared to 65 per cent among those who have not sought guidance.

“It is vital that super funds continue promoting and facilitating their member guidance services, given its positive, tangible impact in lifting member engagement and confidence,” said King Loong Choi, senior analyst at Investment Trends.

“Confident, well-supported members are more satisfied with their super fund and empowered to take steps to improve their situation in retirement,” Choi explained. “After seeking guidance from their super fund, three in four members are driven to take action, most often to compare super funds (23 per cent), make voluntary contributions (20 per cent), consolidate their funds (19 per cent) or change investment options (19 per cent).”

The correlation between engagement and satisfaction is welcome news at a time when Australians are paying closer attention to their super.

“The global pandemic and its resulting market volatility have prompted Australians to pay closer attention to their super. Their engagement with their super investments is growing, meaning that super fund members are now more active stewards of their money,” Choi stated.

The message for funds – many of whom have been focused on liquidity issues and facilitating the stream of early access requests – is that fruitful engagement should continue to be encouraged.

“As members scrutinise their super balance and performance more closely, it is important that super funds continue keeping members informed, educated and confident in weathering heightened market volatility,” Choi said.

“At present, just 61 per cent of members believe their super fund’s range of investment options is sufficient to meet their needs while 31 per cent say they are unsure, further highlighting the need to alleviate members’ knowledge gaps.”