Australian Retirement Trust (ART) and AustralianSuper are understood to be working together on how the two largest super funds can best help their members with advice.
Speaking to Super Review, Anne Fuchs, executive general manager for advice, guidance and education at ART, discussed how the super fund is working on providing advice to its membership.
Earlier this year, Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones made recommendations in the government’s formal response to the Quality of Advice Review that super funds could be a source for retirement income advice.
ART has around 2.2 million members, while AustralianSuper has 3 million members, representing over $500 billion in retirement savings.
While ART has opted out of providing comprehensive advice, Fuchs said it would help members with simple and intra-fund advice on areas such as their home, Centrelink entitlements such as welfare payments and Age Pension, and their super.
Fuchs said: “Stephen Jones believes super funds should be there for the simple advice needs of most working Australians.
“ART [has] been working really collaboratively with AustralianSuper on advocating that funds like ours should be able to help our members with personal advice, under the confines of intra-fund, or on their household situation as it relates to the super, any Centrelink entitlements and that advice meets the majority of Australian needs.
“It won’t meet all the needs, and that’s why I don’t believe we are in competition with financial advisers, as there will be a role for them to provide that more complex advice.”
She likened the advice provided by ART to that of a chemist or a general practitioner, while a financial adviser is a specialist.
“The simple stuff can and should be provided by us as most people have simple advice needs. But there is a growing number of members who have more complex needs, and that’s where external financial advisers come in,” Fuchs explained.
“People go to a chemist where they can get some simple information and self-serve, but the moment we, as a super fund, see complexity, then we must refer them to a specialist because that specialist expertise is required, such as for estate planning or setting up or unwinding an SMSF.”
However, Michelle Levy, lead reviewer of the QAR, has cautioned she feels super funds already have enough work to do without adding in providing financial advice in the way envisaged by Jones.
“It’s going to be really hard. Superannuation funds are being asked to do so much and solve so many problems, and it does worry me that this industry issue only has to sit with superannuation funds to solve,” she said.
Super Review has reached out to AustralianSuper for comment.