Gen Y engagement rests on meaning


By Daniel Paperny

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Building superannuation engagement with a burgeoning millennial customer base meant making Australians care more about their retirement futures by helping drive meaningful conversations about the role of super and the importance of regular saving habits, according to a panel of industry representatives.

Speaking at the Financial Services Council Leaders Summit 2017 in Sydney on Tuesday, Challenger senior manager of retirement income policy Amara Haqqani said the prospect of saving for retirement was often a “nebulous notion” for generation Y Australians and super funds had struggled to truly resonate with that growing customer base.

“You’re very much talking about a generation at the mercy of the economic time and what they’re going through [at the moment], it comes down to values and trust,” Haqqani said.

“When you’re engaging on a values-based system as opposed to thinking about digital engagement and something a little bit more cursory, I think [superannuation] becomes a little bit more meaningful for millennials.”

Grow Super co-founder and director Mathew Keeley said it was important for advisers and super funds to strip away the jargon when it came to discussing super with a generation Y audience.

“Superannuation is a bit like planting an apple tree … it’s your salary in retirement. When you look at it that way, the government thought about it in the early ‘90s and said that basically most Australians are going to do a great job, but they can’t do it on their own so we’re going to help them,” Keeley said.

“When you think about how we work at the moment, at age 55 you’ll go and see an adviser … and say that fundamentally you want to know when you are going to retire, but for the past 35 years, you’ve gotten out of bed five days a week, 48 weeks a year, and you’ve never known where the goalposts are?”

Haqqani said super funds could learn from the model put forward by micro-investing start-up Acorns Grow Australia, where the concept of saving was presented as an incremental habit situated in daily transactions, which made it a far more tangible and compelling prospect for millennial customers.

“I question a lot of the digital engagement conversation that we’ve seen taking place because super is the kind of thing that the current 25 year old is going to be looking at for the next 50 years and more,” she said.

“Engagement is a conversation you need to talk about carefully [and] over-engagement on your superannuation might not necessarily be great for your retirement outcomes either … I think it’s very much about the right type of engagement [in terms of] how do we make it incremental and meaningful.”

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