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Calls to rebrand superannuation education for employees as professional development ‘a huge opportunity’

Media release - 01 November 2022

Professional financial advice and superannuation education should be offered to employees as part of their workplace professional development, Australian Retirement Trust (ART) has heard.

At a virtual employer roundtable hosted last week by ART, one of the largest super funds in the country, employer representatives discussed their role and duty of care in their employees' preparations for retirement.

Dr Linda Colley, Queensland's first Special Commissioner for Equity and Diversity, told the panel that super education is “a huge opportunity” for both employees and employers.

“In general, [employers] are scrupulous about meeting their financial obligations to superannuation, and pay attention to employee wellbeing while at work, but I'm not sure if we're doing enough in terms of wellbeing in retirement,” Dr Colley said.

“Describing superannuation education as professional development [in this ART employer roundtable discussion] was a real lightbulb moment for me.

“It would be great to move from superannuation being a financial obligation to being an opportunity,” Dr Colley said.

Esme Strydom, the Director of People and Culture at Brisbane Grammar School, said it is important for staff to be given time set aside to talk about their super.

“It does go across wellbeing and professional development,” she said, “I don't want to call [superannuation] an obligation, because the moment it is - it becomes a tick sheet.

“I want to look at everything for employees, what is it I can do to make their lives better,” Ms Strydom said.

She called on super funds to offer direct support to employers, including the provision of financial planners, to host education sessions with employees.

"It can almost be a little bit of a broad-brush approach and then people get a feel [for financial advice about retirement] and if they need further individualised advice then they can make an appointment."

One in five businesses with staff in Australia currently have ART as their default super fund or use the fund's services.

“With this level of scale, increasing our members' financial knowledge, skills and confidence would help improve their financial wellbeing and future,” ART National Education Manager Joshua van Gestel said.

“This is why education, including in workplaces with our employer clients around Australia, and the provision of advice, often at no cost, are so important to ART - alongside increasing the engagement of our members through relevant communications and tangible digital access.”

BlueScope's Australian People Manager, Charlotte Flower, was also among the panellists, and said she loved hearing super education rebranded as professional development.

With around 7,000 employees, Ms Flower said supporting employees in their journey to retirement was incredibly important.

“For example, the pension part [of retirement] is like a dark art. When we talk to some of our employees, they're surprised that they're eligible for [the age] pension as they're well paid and have good super schemes.

“Showing them all the opportunities available to them is important, along with that education piece on what they can do in retirement and from a psychological perspective,” Ms Flower said.

“With an increasing focus on cost of living, employment and an ageing workforce in the federal Budget, this discussion could not come at a better time,” Mr van Gestel said.