Jeremy Duffield had a 30 year career at Vanguard between 1980 and 2010, and established the US indexing giant’s Australian presence in 1996.
Mr Duffield left Vanguard in late 2010 to co-found digital advice, education and member engagement fintech start-up SuperEd with former Westpac executive Hugh Morrow.
SuperEd received a $5 million funding boost in January 2018 from investors including former Macquarie director Mark Johnson and Shadforth founder Kevin Bailey.
The company offers digital member engagement services to super funds, including retirement income forecasts, member relationship management, education, and intra-fund advice.
“Personalisation is going to be a huge trend, because it's what people expect in everyday life now,” Mr Duffield told InvestorDaily.
He differentiated SuperEd from other ‘robo-advice’ businesses that are mostly calculator-based and “leave it up to the consumer” to interpret the results of the calculator.
“That's always been unrealistic – the numbers don't speak for themselves, members need more than that and they need the story. We're trying to work with super funds to tell the story,” Mr Duffield said.
SuperEd is the engine behind former Challenger executive Paul Rogan’s start-up Retirement Essentials, which helps retiring Australians apply for the government age pension.
SuperEd’s other clients include a corporate super advice group, group insurer AIA and “one of the large Victorian super funds”, said Mr Duffield.
Commenting on the industry’s transition to digital advice, Mr Duffield it is “disappointingly slow” – but it is happening.
“They're hiring digital chiefs, they're building up their web capabilities, they're investing in CRM - there are signs.
“But it does feel like starting Vanguard Australia all over again - I'm out there in front trying to get people to change the way they do things,” he said.
Having helped drive down the cost of investment during his time at Vanguard, Mr Duffield is looking to do the same for the advice process.
“I think there's more value to be added through advice than there is through product,” he said.
Mr Duffield said he is “fully confident” that the trend towards digital advice will develop over time.
“We might be early, but we're definitely in the right place. These changes that we're betting on just have to happen,” he said.