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‘A real shift’: Women flock to digital to improve super outcomes

Patrick Buncsi4 June 2024
HESTA Women superannuation digital

Women are increasingly making use of digital tools, including retirement income modelling, to manage their superannuation and plan out their retirement, data from industry super fund HESTA reveals.

More than 300,000 members of the super fund – around one-third of its total membership, and of whom 80% are women, in line with the super fund’s broader demographic spread – have used digital technologies to engage with their super, HESTA reported in a recent survey report.

Nearly 100,000 members have also made use of HESTA’s recently updated app since its launch in July last year, while 200,000 have used its Future Planner function, an online scenario modelling tool to help members determine how different actions (such as adjusting investment options or increasing contributions) might affect retirement outcomes.

More than 33,000 members have used Future Planner since its upgrade in October 2023 (two years after its initial launch), with nearly half of the members using the tool requesting further in-person advice.

“We’ve seen a real shift in how our members want to engage with their superannuation,” HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said.

“Our members are often shift workers and are balancing busy lives and want to access support on the go, 24/7 and in the palm of their hand.”

Formed in the late 1980s as the Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia, HESTA was built specifically for workers in the health and community service sectors, covering nursing and midwifery, aged care, community services, disability services, allied health and early childhood education and care – the vast majority of whom women.

Today, the fund counts more than one million members, with an average account balance of $73,000.

According to HESTA research, conventional support approaches, such as ‘education and improving financial literacy’ and ‘financial advice,’ can trigger barriers for women accessing financial expertise and support.

“[What our members have] told us is that they want support to plan long-term and to gain confidence by building on the clear skills with money they already have,” Blakey said.

Data from HESTA shows that its members with an income stream product retire significantly later – between two and four years – than the Australian average, due to gaps in their professional career (in many cases due to maternity leave) that need to be made up for in their later years.

Accessible digital portals and interaction tools, HESTA argues, can be used to begin the conversation with members to ensure their superannuation can meet their retirement needs.

“We know women will have a different experience of retirement. They are going to live longer and have broken work patterns, and our research shows that one in four of our members will finish work earlier than expected for various reasons,” Blakey said.

“Digital technologies help us to start that conversation. So often, women who access trusted financial expertise discover they have more choices than they thought and can make a real difference to their financial position.”

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