Since its launch in 2017, Optimum Pensions has been spreading the word that retirement income is the outcome that matters to superannuation members.
It was over 4 years ago that new pension and annuity standards were included in the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994, and simmultaneously a cross-agency process for innovative retirement income stream products was announced. It is only recently, however, that the approaching introduction of the Retirement Income Covenant seems to have finally stirred APRA and ASIC into action.
Trustees must focus on the retirement income needs of members
On 22 November 2021 at the Australian Financial Review Super and Wealth Summit, APRA Deputy Chair Helen Rowell gave a speech raising the relative imbalance in focus between pre- and post-retirement planning.
From the presentation title, “Hatching a plan for better post-retirement outcomes”, to her final call-to-action for “a much stronger focus on delivering for retirees in the retirement phase is needed,” Rowell urged superannuation fund trustees to offer better retirement income solutions for their members.
At the same event, ASIC Chair Joe Longo echoed Rowell’s message to trustees: “Trustees must challenge themselves to focus on the overall retirement needs of their members, not just the accumulation of a superannuation balance.” So why has it taken so long?
A wicked industry and societal challenge
“A wicked industry and societal challenge” are the exact words used by APRA Executive Director, Superannuation Division, Suzanne Smith, to describe the challenge to help Australians efficiently consume their retirement savings in her remarks to the 29th Annual Colloquium of Pensions and Retirement Research. This challenge is to balance maximising retirement income whilst managing risks and having flexible access to savings.
Smith pointed out that the Retirement Income Covenant is an opportunity for superannuation fund trustees to develop innovative offerings for their members as they reach retirement and that this innovation needs to be undertaken in a thoughtful and considered way. It has been very positive to watch the industry start to respond – QSuper and Challenger have launched new retirement income products this year alongside our own Real Lifetime Pension via Generation Life .
Getting the calculations right
ASIC recently released a consultation paper on superannuation calculators and retirement estimates with ASIC Commissioner Danielle Press affirming that, “Superannuation calculators and retirement estimates can help consumers think ahead about what role their superannuation can play in their retirement income.”
Retirement calculators can be helpful, but will only be effective if appropriate assumptions are used—especially life expectancy assumptions. This is where the Optimum Pensions Lifespan Calculator can be helpful.
Retirees will be the winners
Optimum Pensions are encouraged that both APRA and ASIC are turning their attention to what happens to superannuation members after they leave full-time work and challenge superannuation trustees to do the same. We look forward to continued progress in 2022.
In retirement, income is the outcome. ~ Helen Rowell, APRA Deputy Chair