By Angela Ashton
Managing individual data is paramount within the intricate financial landscape of Australian superannuation, where failure can erode a member’s economic future and cost organisations millions of dollars in penalties.
In this blog, we’ll explore how accurate, consistent, and streamlined data helps superannuation organisations avoid adverse outcomes — including being a focus of the harsh public spotlight from lawsuits.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) recently opened a lawsuit against AustraliaSuper, alleging that the fund failed to consolidate 90,000 member accounts, costing AustralianSuper members ~$69 million over ten years.
ASIC’s former deputy chair Sarah Courts’ keen insight sheds light on a pressing issue within the superannuation industry. Duplicate accounts jeopardise members’ financial well-being, leading to various complications, from unnecessary fees to diminished returns. This erosion of economic stability can diminish the hard-earned savings of individuals diligently preparing for retirement.
This is when data synchronisation across the organisation comes into play, ensuring individual data remains accurate regardless of its entry point. Superannuation companies can — and should — centralise and harmonise their data, creating a single ‘golden record’ as the definitive source for individual information and eliminating duplication or orphaned records. This guarantees data accuracy, consistency, and integrity across various systems and platforms. In summary, it provides these member-facing applications with a trusted data source and enhanced experience.
But a single golden record doesn’t just happen. It requires data pipelines that exchange data freely while eliminating duplication and ensuring data accuracy.
Ensuring Exceptional Individual Experiences
At the core of any superannuation company lies its commitment to its members and customers. Consistent data guarantees seamless service, confirming transactions and communications proceed without a hitch.
Over recent years, superannuation funds have become more custodians of their customers and member data, eliminating reliance on third-party intermediaries. This has increased emphasis on superannuation organisations to manage their data securely, and, in turn, their members’ finances, amidst the complexities of the changing industry landscape.
Super Mergers & Acquisitions
Moreover, the superannuation industry is witnessing ongoing consolidation through mergers and acquisitions. As highlighted in KPMG’s Super Insights 2023 report, five new mergers were announced in 2022, and at least thirteen mergers were completed between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.
To achieve a single view of the new organisation and establish cohesive business processes, mergers and acquisitions must integrate data to connect essential business applications and facilitate information sharing across the newly formed organisation. Funds recognise that their future sustainability hinges on providing members with optimal retirement benefits while minimising costs.
Regulatory Compliance and Building Member Trust
Compliance with industry standards and government regulations is paramount within this tightly regulated financial sector. Stringent regulations necessitate prompt data access to facilitate auditing and reporting. Data synchronisation plays a pivotal role in meeting these demands while enhancing the organisation’s reputation for reliability and trustworthiness among its members. It underscores the organisation’s dedication to transparency and responsible financial stewardship.
Operational Efficiency and Cost Reduction
In addition to compliance benefits, data synchronisation delivers tangible operational advantages. Duplicate accounts often lead to redundant processes, driving up operating costs. By eliminating these inefficiencies, superannuation companies can achieve significant cost savings. Streamlined data management enables teams to work more efficiently, enhancing overall organisational performance.
Learning a Hard Lesson From AustralianSuper
The lawsuit against AustralianSuper is a stark reminder of the dangers of neglecting duplicate accounts. ASIC’s legal action against the superannuation giant sheds light on the need for robust data management practices and underscores the real-world impact of inadequate data governance.
According to the Australian Financial Review, ASIC contends that AustralianSuper’s failure to eliminate duplicate accounts resulted in members paying unnecessary fees, which eroded their superannuation balances. This further highlights the critical importance of proactive data synchronisation and management.
Generative AI Is a Game Changer in Superannuation
Every industry is in the process of being reshaped by AI. Superannuation funds are no exception. As this technology evolves, enterprises recognise that embracing AI is not just about implementing new tools; it requires a fundamental mindset shift — a holistic approach encompassing people, processes, and platforms.
So, how could AI benefit an individual superannuation fund while introducing innovation to the industry? One example would be more accurate and effective customer targeting and segmentation via machine learning analysis of customer and generic demographic data. AI could also analyse and support investment decisions, contributing to higher rates of return.
But as previously pointed out, accurate data feeding into AI models is crucial for generating actionable and reliable insights. Otherwise, the hope-for results, optimising retirement benefits while minimising costs will never materialise.
Data Synchronisation Helps Safeguard Superannuation Members
Duplicate accounts are not a trivial matter. They’re a pan-industry issue with highly detrimental cumulative effects. By wholeheartedly adopting data integration and automation solutions, superannuation firms can safeguard their members’ interests, bolster operational resilience, and strengthen regulatory compliance. In the future, providing precise, accurate data can fuel AI models, enabling them to deliver the actionable insights vital to sustaining and improving performance.
In a landscape where trust and financial security are the pillars of industry reputation, data synchronisation emerges as an indispensable tool in the arsenal of superannuation companies.
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