INVESTING

Gym memberships, travel insurance: what you want from your super fund

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From gym memberships to health insurance discounts; from home loans and term deposits to credit cards; and from computer deals to travel insurance, super funds offer extra benefits to compete for your membership.

New Rainmaker Information research tells us that almost one-quarter of millennials would be willing to switch super funds based on what benefits they can access now rather than in retirement.

And it's no wonder this cohort constantly seeks a better deal - prior to the Protecting Your Super package, the researcher says millennials generally paid twice the average fee levels of other fund members and up to eight times the average insurance rates.

super fund perks

Where millennials invest their super money (and use extra benefits) is important because they represent one-third of all super accounts in Australia. Rainmaker Information head of superannuation research Jason Ross says it's a large reflection of super's future.

He says it's also clear super funds are tailoring their apps to suit millennials. However, improvements to these services are useful to most members regardless of age (e.g. alerts when your super guarantee isn't paid; or simplified investment choices).

On top of offering an increased variety of extra benefits, super funds have increased their social media presence by 60% in the past three years, the research shows.

What benefits your super fund should offer

At a minimum your super fund is expected to have a website with online account access, the ability to choose your investment option and the offer of basic financial advice, Rainmaker says. These features are available in more than 90% of funds.

An example of an extra benefit at the periphery of super fund offerings is health insurance partnerships. The report says 24% of super funds currently partner with a health insurer and "these associations are likely more opportunistic".

This is where a super fund has to think greatly about what benefits you as a member will value most.

One benefit that has seen great member engagement among super funds is an online chat facility. A preliminary Rainmaker survey shows one-third of super funds operate online chat.

Ross says it's important to remember that super is there for retirement and while these benefits seem great now, in the long term "getting the best possible net return after all fees is even more important".

Benefits in retirement

Extra benefits that may be appropriate for super members in the accumulation phase (i.e. before retirement) don't necessarily convert to life's later stages.

Some of the additional benefits offered among pension products include the ability to tailor pension payment frequencies, member education and the availability of financial advice.

"Simply having an account based pension and Transition to Retirement option is now just the baseline," says Ross.

"Variants include annuities and longevity pensions. The surprise, in our view, is how few high performing super funds offer these flexibility features."

Rainmaker Group is the publisher of Money magazine

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Darren Snyder is the managing editor of Money magazine. He is a former editor of Financial Standard, where he had worked as a journalist, predominantly covering superannuation. Previously a mining and wine industry reporter at the Mudgee Guardian, Darren was awarded the Sir Harry Budd Memorial Award for Australian Country Journalism in 2012.
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