Mercer Super Digital Experience l Mercer Australia

A New Digital Dawn

As technology rapidly transforms the way Australian’s engage with their finances, Mercer is at the forefront of creating best-in-class customer experiences for super and financial advice online, and advising government on regulating so-called ‘robo advice'.

A new online customer experience

To help grow their retirement savings, members are looking for ‘actionable insights’ that they can find at their fingertips - on their iPads, mobile phones/watches, or their desktop computers.

When they log into their super account, they want access to all their key account information on a single, at-a-glance screen that clearly displays their account activity, account balance, current investment strategy and insurance arrangements.

They want to be only one click away from tools and online advice to help them make informed decisions and gain deeper insights into their investment preferences, retirement potential and progress towards reach their financial goals.

Ultimately, members want a simple approach that provides them with the ‘facts and insights’ that enable them to take action on their own terms to change contribution levels, consolidate accounts, and update preferences. And they want their provider to make it super easy to do so.

Contact Mercer to discuss best practice in online customer experience.  If you’re a Mercer Super Trust employer, log in to experience it for yourself.

Why can’t I just get my annual benefit statement on my phone?

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Regulatory Guide 221 (RG221) encourages the use of digital channels to inform members of updates to their super accounts under points 7.6 – 7.9 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act). 

ASIC has recognised an important trend that you can see every day on public transport, in the street, in cafes and restaurants – more and more people turn to their smart phones to get information they need. Members of super funds are no exception, and RG221 facilitates the publication and notification of their updates sooner, in a more environmentally-friendly and convenient way. It might well even motivate them to link through to other online customer experiences beyond the initial RG221-driven update.

For example, annual benefit statements were once only sent in paper form. More recently, delivery of statements as PDFs attached to emails has become an alternative to that historic approach assuming email addresses are known. In paper form, statements are at best simply filed away and possibly forgotten; at worst, they might have been thrown in with the recycled newspapers! In email form, they might be filed electronically or again deleted into the trash. Under RG221, however, members get a link to their secure website login. Upon login, they can download their annual statement, which will always be stored there. We expect it will also prompt more and more members to explore and interact with aspects of their statements, such as changing contributions or investment choices and nominating beneficiaries.  

This RG221-recommended approach, where practicable, can also extend to other ‘regulated communications’ such as Significant Event Notices (SENs) and Product Disclosure Statements (PDSs). We believe it makes for a better member experience and is the way of the future.

Contact us to learn more about RG221 compliance.

Regulating digital financial product advice

ASIC has also been busy considering the subject of regulating digital financial product advice. You might know it better as ‘robo advice.’

Such advice is critical in this new digital dawn, and it’s even more critical that the regulations governing it are right from the outset.  Mercer’s been working hard to influence that through our submission to ASIC in May. Our submission was in response to ASIC’s consultation paper and associated draft regulatory guide on regulating digital financial product advice.

We endorse a regulatory approach that commits to what we call ‘technology neutrality.’ Essentially, we believe that the obligations applying to robo advice and traditional (non-digital) advice need to be the same; so far as that’s possible. In responding to specific consultation paper questions, Mercer’s submission elaborated on the following overarching themes:

  • The cost effective and practical role that robo advice plays in engaging customers who might otherwise not pay for face-to-face consultation and therefore miss out on the benefits of financial advice.
  • The limitations and constraints of the technology and algorithms that underpin any robo advice.
  • Flexibility to accommodate new technological developments and innovations.
  • The valuable intellectual property (IP) rights of algorithm developers, and the extent to which that IP must be disclosed. 

ASIC received 38 submissions, now being considered as ASIC goes through the process of settling its final regulatory guidance, expected to be published by the end of September 2016. Our submission will be published when ASIC publishes its final regulatory guide.

 Let us know if any of these issues are of interest to you.
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