HESTA members increasingly using digital technology for retirement planning


Debby Blakey

Women are increasingly using digital tools to help plan for their financial futures with industry fund HESTA reporting more than 300,000 of its members, 80 per cent of whom are women, have used digital technologies to engage with their super.

The $83 billion industry fund for health and community services has seen strong demand from members for digital tools to help them plan for retirement. Nearly 100,000 members have used the Funds’ new App since launching in July last year, while 200,000 have used Future Planner.

An online digital tool, Future Planner, helps members examine how different actions, such as increasing contributions, adjusting investment options, or changing retirement dates, might affect their retirement outcomes. Members can then choose further advice and support to help them plan and progress towards their long-term financial goals.

“We’ve seen a real shift in how our members want to engage with their superannuation,” HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said.

“Our members are often shift workers and are balancing busy lives and want to access support on the go, 24/7 and in the palm of their hand.”

The superannuation industry expects a wave of baby boomers to retire in the coming years. HESTA anticipates 13 per cent of its more than one million members will retire within the next five years.

More than 33,000 members have used Future Planner since it was enhanced in October 2023 to help more members nearing or in retirement. Almost half of the members using the tool request further in-person advice.

“We’re seeing members really build their confidence. Like their retirement savings, confidence compounds, leading to more positive actions as members are encouraged by the progress they’re making towards a better long-term financial future,” Ms Blakey said.

Ms Blakey said that the industry needed to shift its mindset if it was to help women better navigate the retirement landscape.

HESTA member research shows that conventional support approaches, such as ‘education and improving financial literacy’ and ‘financial advice,’ can trigger barriers for women accessing financial expertise and support.

“Our members are amazing problem solvers, managing often extremely tight household budgets,” Ms Blakey said.

“But what they’ve told us is that they want support to plan long-term and to gain confidence by building on the clear skills with money they already have.”

KPMG analysis found that Australian workers are expected to retire at their oldest age since the early 1970s. According to the report, the average age at which people expect to retire has steadily increased from 63.3 to 66.2 for men and 61.6 to 64.8 for women. [1]

However, on average, HESTA members with an Income Stream product retired at 68. Aged care and childcare workers retired even later, at 68.5 years on average, demonstrating that our members often work longer to continue building their retirement savings. 

“We know women will have a different experience of retirement. They are going to live longer and have broken work patterns, and our research shows that one-in-four of our members will finish work earlier than expected for various reasons,” Ms Blakey said.

“So, it starts with listening to women and understanding their retirement needs.

“Digital technologies help us to start that conversation. So often, women who access trusted financial expertise discover they have more choices than they thought and can make a real difference to their financial position.”

HESTA continues to assess opportunities to further enhance its support for members arising from the Quality of Advice Review reforms.

The Fund wants to see the Government prioritise the release of tranche two of the Quality of Advice Review reforms released for consultation as soon as possible. 

“We believe these proposed reforms can better support super funds like HESTA to provide more holistic financial advice, which considers a couple’s Age Pension eligibility and financial position, including assets held outside of super,” Ms Blakey said.

“Our members often need advice tailored to their needs as they have smaller account balances and typically work in lower-paid industries. These reforms can provide better access to the benefits of financial expertise and support, potentially improving retirement outcomes at scale.”

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