2019 is the year that superannuation funds got a lot better for Australian women.
According to research house Chant West, at least four of its top ten performing funds this year have introduced member services and initiatives aimed at helping women become more financially secure.
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Ian Fryer head of research at Chant West thinks the focus on female members is desperately needed given the gender gap in retirement savings.
“I think most funds could be doing more in catering to women’s different work patterns and engaging with women,” he said.
“Many funds are trying to help women understand how they can grow their super but it is not that effective due to lack of interest in super.
“We would like to see funds be more creative in ways they communicate with female members to grab their attention and use what they know about each individual member to identify what is likely to be the next thing each member could do to grow their super, so what a fund says to each member is much more personalised rather than using a scatter-gun approach.”
The latest superannuation data captured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and analysis for the Financy Women’s Index, shows that women face a lifetime superannuation gender gap of 28 per cent, which is down from 34 per cent two years ago.
Helping to boost female balances are improved workforce participation as well as various tax strategies and larger contributions limits prior to July 2017.
So what super funds are doing good things for women?
Mr Fryer says that if you’re looking for a super fund that is good for women, then you want a fund that has the highest quality investments, regardless of your gender.
But that’s not all.
“You need to have your investments growing to have a quality retirement outcome but you also need to look at whether the fund is going to provide member services that helps in your specific circumstance,” he said.
Among the top ten super funds of the year, as awarded by Chant West, are: CareSuper, First State Super, QSuper and Hesta.
“These funds are using all the data they have on members to understand how they can best help each member and focussing more on how they can help their female members,” said Fryer.
Most recently Hesta, which has 80 per cent female members, has started investing in affordable housing developments given that women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing cohorts of homeless in Australia.
But despite these funds being in Chant West’s top ten, not all of them have achieved returned that outperformed over the past financial year.
For instance CareSuper returned 6.7 per cent over the past financial year, compared to 7 per cent for the median fund, while First State super achieved 7.7 per cent for its members and Hesta 7.3 per cent
QSuper was the standout in this top ten, alongside UniSuper with a 9.9 per cent respective annual return.
That said, all of these funds outperformed the median growth fund’s 8.8 per cent returns in the 10 years to June 30, 2019, according to Chant West data.
Other super funds that are using data smarts to better understand and help their female members, include Sun Super and AMP.
The newly launched women’s ethical fund Verve Super is also offering very targeted services to help its female members including financial coaching and pausing fees for members with low balances.
GuildSuper is another fund which has changed to better support its female members.
It’s released SuperSuper, which is a shop-and-save super rewards program after recognising that many of its members have low incomes and lower than average superannuation balances.
The rewards program aims to provide members with added benefits for being with the fund, though rewards for the everyday shopping they do.
Bianca Hartge-Hazelman is a women’s money columnist and founder of Financy and The Women’s Index.
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