Rest sees sharp uptick in digital advice adoption

19 October 2023
| By Rhea Nath |
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As super funds contend with how to open up advice capabilities to their individual members, Rest has reported a 25 per cent increase in its digital advice tools in the last financial year.

Nearly 90 per cent of its total advice interactions came through its digital tools, which were used over 35,000 times, the fund said.

Speaking to Super Review, Rest’s chief member officer, Deborah Potts, explained the fund’s digital advice tools have been “very effective” at expanding the scale and reach of advice to its more than 1.9 million members.

“Our digital tools have also helped us meet a sustained increase in demand for simple advice over the past five years from members who traditionally have not sought financial advice, particularly young people and women,” Potts noted.

Almost 60 per cent of the fund’s members are female, with around half aged 30 years or younger.

Potts added: “More than half of our total advice interactions in 2022/23 were with members under the age of 40, and nearly all of them used our digital tools.” 

The $75 billion fund has also bolstered these digital advice capabilities with a new appointment, welcoming Esther Moseley as head of advice technology on 9 October.

Moseley made the move from Iress, where she served as a client solutions delivery manager for over a year and a half.

Her vast experience in financial services and technology also includes over six years at Midwinter, including head of professional services for over a year and a half and leading enterprise digital advice and implementation for three years.  

Potts observed: “Esther has strong expertise and experience in digital advice and will be a valuable addition to our team as we look to build on the results so far and expand our reach to more members.” 

Recently, QAR reviewer, Michelle Levy, hinted that advice from super funds could be given by a digital advice tool following the government’s adoption of 14 of the 22 recommendations of the Quality of Advice Review (QAR). 

In an op-ed for The Australian, she discussed the ‘phase 2’ proposals in the QAR that will see super funds giving financial advice to their members in order to improve access to retirement income advice.

Levy said: “The licensee responsible for the advice – in phase 2, the trustees of the superannuation funds – is best placed to decide what training staff needs and how advice should be provided.

“In some cases, the nature of the advice may mean the advice should be given by a financial adviser. But in other cases, the nature of the advice may mean it can be given by a person who is trained to follow a script. Increasingly, advice might be given by a digital advice tool and not by a person.

“Even where a person is involved, they might be merely an intermediary between the client and the algorithm. In that case, a degree in psychology or social work might be more valuable than a degree in financial planning. 

“In any case, in 2023 the law should not continue to assume that financial advice is given by a person.”

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