16 December 2020
Surge in demand strong evidence that digital tools are key to closing the advice gap for young and female super membersRest experienced a surge in demand for its digital advice tools during the past financial year – particularly among younger members – highlighting the strong potential for online offerings to address parts of the growing advice gap.
Interactions with Rest Advice more than doubled year-on-year in the 2019/20 financial year. Overwhelmingly, this was due to interactions with Rest Online advice, which increased by 252 per cent.
While there was an increase in demand right across Rest’s membership base, there was a particularly significant take-up from younger members and female members – demographics who have traditionally been less likely to access advice.
Interactions with 22-29-year-old members nearly tripled, while interactions with 30-39-year-old members more than doubled. The increase in interactions with female members in these age bands was even more profound – 226 per cent for 22-29-year-olds and 153 per cent for 30-39-year-olds.
“This level of increased engagement with financial advice simply wouldn’t have happened if our digital tools weren’t available. This is clear evidence that people who traditionally don’t engage with advice will do so if you make it convenient and accessible for them,” said Rest Chief Executive Officer Vicki Doyle.
“We believe all Australians should have access to advice, no matter what their financial circumstances are. This is especially the case with so many more people facing financial insecurity thanks to current economic conditions. Given the structural changes to the advice market, there is a very real concern that advice will become inaccessible to lower- and middle-income Australians.
“With ASIC and the industry looking to digital tools to ensure more Australians can benefit from financial advice, these results should provide encouragement that there is a strong appetite for these services.
“Many of our members wouldn’t be able to access simple advice about their investment options or the ideal level of contributions if it wasn’t provided as part of their super at no additional cost.
“Offering this advice digitally allows us to provide this to members at scale, and it allows members to take control of their super whenever and wherever it suits. It’s such an effective way to help more of our members make informed decisions about their super and achieve their best-possible retirement outcomes.
“Intra-fund advice has a limited scope and these tools are not intended to substitute for full advice. They’re designed to provide simple advice on particular topics – such as choosing the ideal investment option – in a convenient and understandable way.”
Rest began rolling out digital tools in July 2017, and now offers three digital intra-fund advice services: investment choice, insurance needs, and contribution optimisation. There are also two other tools – Retirement Health Check and Super Health Check – designed to provide key introductory information to members who don’t know where to start.
The most recent launch was the Super Health Check tool in September 2019, which corresponds with the beginning of the spike in demand.
“In the nine months from September 2019 to June 2020, our digital tools were used more times than they had been in the previous two years combined,” said Ms Doyle.
“In fact, 40 per cent of all Rest Advice interactions since our service began – over the phone or digitally – came in that nine-month period.
“There are a number of environmental factors that will have helped drive this demand, such as the extreme market volatility earlier this year and legislative changes to insurance cover, but the growth in online advice has been uniform since September last year.
“We are now looking at ways to reach even more members with these tools and maximise their value. This is a great platform to build on.”
Rest Advice interactions in 2019/20 financial year
- 12,806 Rest Advice interactions
- 9,790 Rest Online Advice interactions
- 3,016 Rest Advice interactions over the phone
- 57.5 per cent of Rest Advice interactions were with female members
- 55.7 per cent of Rest Online interactions were with female members
- 51.7 per cent of Rest Advice interactions were with <40-year-old members
- 60.5 per cent of Rest Online interactions were with <40-year-old members
Usage of Rest Online tools:
- 38 per cent Investment choice
- 29 per cent Insurance needs
- 15 per cent Super Health Check
- 11 per cent Retirement Health Check
- 7 per cent Contributions optimisation