Peter Hogg

Aware Super has 1.2 million members, and at any moment any one of those members could turn to the fund for advice – but what advice that member might need is really anyone’s guess.

Since a super fund can’t really control who becomes a member in the first place, it also can’t really control the type of individual who may one day seek advice. The bigger the fund, the more disparate its membership is likely to be. As a matter of principle, but also under the terms of the Retirement Income Covenant, it must be ready to meet the needs of them all.

Financial advisers, on the other hand, are able to pick and choose who they will take on as clients. They can turn away clients they don’t want, and can focus on the lucrative ones, or those that fit a particular profile. They can finely tailor an advice offer that closely fits the needs of a clearly defined cohort of clients.

But a super fund needs to develop its services to accommodate a potentially wide spectrum of financial situations. It’s no small task to develop an intelligently joined-up offer that caters for low-balance members and those with low financial literacy right through to members who have high account balances and those who are financially literate.

Aware’s services encompass on-demand videos, seminars, webinars for employers, general advice, intrafund advice and comprehensive advice. There’s also a strong digital underpinning to the services it offers.

“It’s really incumbent on us as a fund to make sure we’re designing our advice and help services around that [retirement] wave coming for us,” says Peter Hogg, business lead at Aware’s Super Helpful member guidance and advice service.

“We have a strategy that we put in place a few years ago, which is really about building out affordable, accessible help, and a really broad spectrum of that.”

Hogg says Aware is supportive of the so-called “qualified adviser” unveiled last week by Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones as part of the government’s response to the Quality of Advice Review.

“This will enable more of our members’ simple help and advice needs – things like contributions and investment choice – to be answered efficiently and with personalisation, not just generally,” Hogg says.

“We also think that this will really complement our digital advice tools. We know that members sometimes will need some human reassurance, and we see this group supporting hybrid advice, really leveraging the digital tools for efficiency and quality.”

Aware has 25 employed advisers providing intrafund advice, and 75 employed advisers providing comprehensive advice.

“In addition to that we’ve got some specialists, like an estate planning lawyer, and some aged care specialists as well,” Hogg says.

Aware added a digital tool to its line-up in July this year. The My Retirement Planner now has 1000 members a week using the tool.

“That shows the level of demand that our membership has into accessing help, and even safely testing and playing themselves,” Hogg says.