The most difficult job in the world must surely be marketing financial services to the general public. Although money is fundamental to our very existence, almost as soon as the topic of finance is brought up, many of us simply switch off. Our eyes glaze over and we start mentally planning our weekends.
Statistics appear to back this up. Despite the introduction of the ground breaking legislation giving genuine choice of fund to Australia's superannuation public, few Australians have taken advantage. According to a recent report from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, a mere 6 per cent of Australians have actively made the choice to change or consolidate their superannuation accounts since the introduction of choice in July 2005.
Research conducted by the Australian Consumers' Association in November showed there were still over 30 million superannuation accounts in Australia, or 2.6 accounts per member of the workforce. So why aren't Australians exercising their right to plough their own superannuation furrow? Is it because they aren't interested, or is it because super funds simply make it too hard?
Rice Warner Actuaries favours the latter opinion. It says the superannuation industry's archaic paper-based bureaucracy has led to unnecessary and expensive barriers to members who wish to swap accounts. Superannuation funds must therefore reinvent themselves.
This week's feature shows there are huge opportunities for those funds that can transform their 'archaic' ways and appeal to a wider Australian public. They can do this through effective marketing; by creating a brand identity that will retain existing members and attract new ones at the same time. But this is easier said than done.
The Australian public needs to be tuned in to the potential benefits of moving - or not moving - their savings. This is no easy task. The first job must be to convince them to shift their funds in the first place and the second job must be to make this an efficient, smooth and preferably non-paper-based process.Heading to the Arctic with a sackful of ice might just be the easier option.
The most important marketing tool for super funds, however, remains high returns on their investments. This week's feature examines whether domestic equity markets are finally reaching full value after four years of double-digit returns. More and more funds are looking outside Australia's borders for next year's alpha returns, particularly towards Asia. The Asian bull market is in its ascendancy, but how long can this last and have investors become a smidgen too euphoric?
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