I headed to the AIST CMSF 2016 conference in Adelaide last week and once again a great event run by AIST. There was good representation from lots of players within the superannuation and wealth sector.

Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer opened the conference delivering her welcome message via video from Canberra. Given the release of a discussion paper last week seeking feedback towards the government’s commitment to maintain the underlying goals for superannuation savings, it was a well-received message.

“Enshrining the objective is not just about government, it is about framing our ongoing conversation about the purpose of superannuation and the value it retains and returns to an ageing Australian population,’’ O’Dwyer told the delegates at the conference’s opening.

This was a common theme of the conference and I had many conversations with my colleagues on how the super system needed to be sustainable and reliable, together with a view on how retirees could improve their living standards. The focus on better retirement outcomes was touched on by all themes of the conference, and in particular I enjoyed the discussions centred on innovating, the customer and the ‘just do it’ undertone of these conversations.

We are all seeking ways to deliver better outcomes to superannuation members, and during the conference there was lots of robust discussion on the intelligent design of services, product design, and investment strategy and policy participation.

The sessions that centred on financial advice demonstrated this thinking well. It is well accepted that financial advice is an important part of the equation when it comes to a better retirement outcome for Australians. The way advice can potentially be delivered is rapidly expanding given the introduction of new advice platforms, integration into existing advice models and the adoption of new technologies. Conference attendees experienced a great demonstration of roboadvice and face to face advice in one of the plenary sessions. This example really highlighted to me that there are many services available today for superannuation funds to extend the value being delivered, and it’s up to the funds to look at how and why these services will be integrated into the outcomes superannuation funds provide to its members.

The end result is that I also walked away from the conference with the belief that the ‘just do it’ approach to innovation is important. Starting to experiment and deliver on innovation starts with small incremental steps that involve changing the culture of an organisation, fail fast and fail quickly is a very real mantra that can support innovation and enable a new paradigm of technology, service and outcomes that we are seeking. The ‘Fear of Failure’ can override a great opportunity to do something brave, and this isn’t limited to technology.

I know I feel refreshed and have picked up some new ways of thinking and am looking forward to putting them into play with our clients on how to produce a better retirement outcome for their members.


Ron Mullins

Director – Business Development Network