Examples of successful digital transformations always make for great stories. Digital initiatives, when done right, can improve customer engagement, spur new business models, improve decision-making and drive efficiencies. When such a project also results in helping a disadvantaged population save for a more secure retirement, that makes for a super story.
Consider the Australian approach to retirement savings. Australian employers are required by law to make regular contributions of 9.5 per cent of their employees’ total salaries toward retirement in a superannuation fund (aka super fund). In addition to that, super funds are always looking for ways to incentivise their members to make personal contributions above the employer contribution to benefit both the member and the fund.
Guild Trustee Services (GTS), an Australian trustee for retirement funds, has established a superannuation fund called GuildSuper. It offers superannuation products, insurance coverage and services designed for those working in the pharmacy, veterinary and allied healthcare industries. GuildSuper’s current membership exceeds 75,000 and helps over 16,000 employers meet their superannuation obligations.
One characteristic of GuildSuper is its member base, which is overwhelmingly female. Accounts in the fund also average lower balances than accounts in other super funds. Women in Australia, like women in other parts of the world, are more likely than men to leave paying jobs to raise children and address family needs. Unfortunately, these periods with no income cause women’s super balances to be lower on average than men’s super balances. Even when they are working, members of these caregiving professions may earn less. This combination of factors poses a very real risk that these super fund members could retire without sufficient retirement savings.
GTS had been looking for ways to prevent such a scenario for its low-earning members. The concept that GTS arrived at was to leverage loyalty rewards to boost members’ super fund contributions without increasing costs to the members.
The solution GTS devised works as follows: A member buys a retailer-specific loyalty rewards card and spends its full amount. In return, the retailer contributes a percentage of every dollar spent toward the member’s super fund balance. Super fund balances grow simply by members doing their everyday shopping. The program increases the contributions of members and helps them to save for retirement even during periods when they are not working.
This program is the first of its kind in Australia, and possibly the world. No other super fund has offered the integration of loyalty rewards into super fund contributions before. GTS knew they were on to a really good idea. They also knew that launching the innovative offering, dubbed SUPERSUPERTM, would be a complex endeavor and high risk.
GTS enlisted Protiviti in 2017 to help make their vision a reality. Planning got underway in October of that year and by the year’s end GTS and Protiviti had a blueprint ready. To take advantage of the new product, members would need a web portal and a mobile application to register for the program, purchase vouchers and check balances.
Designing the solution started in early 2018. The work required negotiating with several vendors to deliver on various workstreams and managing their deliverables to budget. The all-new financial service also called for specific tasks related to regulatory requirements. Protiviti ran the program management office (PMO) for this complex effort, uniting multiple vendors to deliver on a single schedule. Protiviti also provided guidance in an advisory capacity to the GuildSuper executive team.
When the project team needed to augment available technology and development resources, Protiviti leveraged its relationship with its parent company, Robert Half International (RHI). Secondment resources from RHI assisted the Group IT team with solution design and solution development, including the coding of key interfaces. These resources were fully integrated with the Group IT team.
The innovative nature of SUPERSUPERTM was a risk in itself. To mitigate the risk, the team budgeted ample time for testing of the new solution. A variety of user personas and customer experience journeys needed to be tried out, both on the web portal and the mobile application. And of course, the team had to deliver all components early enough to allow sufficient time for extensive testing of the fully integrated solution.
The blended team of GTS, Protiviti and several vendors required greater-than-average coordination and management. This was accomplished successfully by leveraging the unique strengths of all participants. GTS provided leadership, along with deep business knowledge and market and customer analysis. Protiviti managed the overall program, provided development resources, interfaced with vendors and planned and led the test effort. The close relationships fostered between the parties resulted in a high-performing team that worked cohesively to deliver a solution that brought a crucial social benefit to a specific community of disadvantaged Australian wage-earners.
SUPERSUPERTM went live in October 2018. GuildSuper members are now able to contribute more to their super funds without additional strain on their budgets. By shopping for their daily needs, members add to their super savings. Offering this particular benefit is a first among superannuation funds in Australia. It’s unique to GuildSuper, and free for all its members, who can save not only on what they earn but also on what they spend.
The solution is growing in popularity and has received acknowledgement and accolades in the local media. “A new scheme lets you earn superannuation while you shop,” proclaimed The Sydney Morning Herald, adding that “It can sometimes be a fine line between gimmick and something of value when it comes to the funds’ marketing, but this falls in the latter category.”
For his part, Greg Everett, General Manager of GTS, said “Our company would not have been able to achieve this result without Protiviti.”