When you’re a new parent, enjoying a long, leisurely retirement seems a lifetime away. And, let’s be honest, who’s thinking about how to maximise their retirement fund when there is a crying newborn demanding their attention?
Superannuation funds were certainly the last thing on our minds when my wife Samantha and I welcomed our two children into the world. We were too busy getting to grips with feeding schedules, bedtime routines and the joys of parenthood. But, with Samantha taking maternity leave from her job as a firefighter (swapping saving lives for an even harder, more exhausting job as a mum), her superannuation contributions paused. We watched as my retirement pot continued to grow while hers stalled.
But this isn’t an uncommon experience. It’s a reality for millions of Australian women each year.
Women retire with 24% less super than men on average
Research by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work found that women earn $136,000 less in superannuation over their working lives than men, based on median income data. Alongside the impact of the gender pay gap, women are more likely to take longer breaks from full-time employment due to maternity leave and the ongoing demands of raising a family, with a 55% drop in earnings for mothers in the five years following childbirth.
Fewer earnings and less time spent in the workforce means new mums are saving less money in their super funds. When you factor in the impact of compounding interest, even a small reduction in contributions or a $75 fund fee paid unnecessarily can have a significant impact at retirement time. When you scale that up to the 300,000 women giving birth each year, it’s millions of dollars lost.
But the superannuation sector is working to address this issue. Fund providers recognise that a person’s employment isn’t static – it’s a journey with many stops, changes of direction and differing priorities on the way. To deliver the best services for their members, including women and new mothers, funds need to provide better access to information, advice and support to help their members every step of the way.
How technology is helping families to update their superannuation
One of the ways to better support members and deliver a better experience is to embrace digital transformation. Technology is often unfairly maligned as putting distance between people and providers; haven’t we all suffered from bad website chatbots and automated responses? But it can also help close the gap and make it easier for people to be proactive about their finances.
For example, women taking maternity leave are often required to update their employment status with their super fund provider themselves. This can be a time-consuming and arduous process, firstly finding out who to contact and how to contact them, then completing all the necessary steps to register the change. At a time when families have more pressing concerns – the imminent arrival of a new baby – it can quickly slip from the to-do list, leaving women being charged unnecessary fees or unable to access schemes to keep their superfund growing.
We have recently worked with Employment Hero, a forward-thinking Australian HR & payroll software provider, to give women better access to their super accounts when taking maternity leave. In just 12 weeks, our accelerator supported the creation of “Embedded Super” a simple integration for superannuation funds which allows members to easily manage and update their superannuation account without the hassle of having to contact their provider. It’s a low-cost, low-effort solution which can have a huge and immediate impact on super fund members and their retirement savings.
Join us at ASFA Conference to find out more
As a trusted superannuation partner, we’re excited to be sharing our work at the ASFA Conference in Adelaide on 28 – 30 November 2023. Taking a cue from this year’s conference theme – Inspiring Excellence – we’ll be demonstrating the embedded super solution and hoping to inspire more providers to embrace this innovation in their system so their members can begin to benefit.
We’ll also be sharing insights into how we’ve helped:
- Spirit Super to increase capacity and deliver improved digital services as it rapidly grew in size. Read the case study or watch the video
- Improve digital capabilities so a super fund can quickly respond to new regulations and discover new opportunities to enhance returns for its members. Read the case study
Visit us at the ASFA conference at stand 19 or contact me in advance to find out more.