The Blog

Member onboarding – are you making an impact?

First impressions count and sadly there’s no do-over when you don’t quite hit the mark. We know this, yet still so many super funds send out, as their first bit of communication, a lengthy, text-heavy welcome letter or email that does nothing to inspire and welcome the member.

The letter may tick the compliance box, but it fails to engage members and certainly doesn’t act as the first step in establishing yourself as a ‘fund for life’. So, what can be done to engage members from the start? In this article we provide insights into how you can review and refine your current member onboarding strategy to establish a relationship with your new member and begin the lifelong journey of engagement.

From working with our super fund clients, we know the onboarding program is an opportunity to:
• Provide a memorable introduction to your fund and what it stands for
• Encourage key actions that benefit the member and the fund
• Educate and explain super in simple, jargon-free communications
• Provide a user-friendly, personalised experience.

Working towards a better member onboarding program

We have worked with a number of super funds over the years to establish a new member onboarding program; featuring a series of engaging, personalised communications for members during their first 6-12 months with the fund.

From this work, we’ve put together a road map, demonstrating how you can elevate your new member onboarding program to new heights and drive key member conversions through its implementation.

1. Map your existing process

You can’t move forward with a new whizz bang strategy without knowing the current state of things.
The first point of call is to get a clear holistic picture of what your members currently experience when they join your fund. This includes the online join process, letters, emails and other communications plus anything they receive via their employer.

You’ll also need to find out where the data for your current program comes from, what the various (or not various) mailing triggers are and who owns it within your fund – is it your operations team, administrator or other area of the business?

This will give you a complete picture of your new member onboarding journey, including process, content and responsibilities. It may take some time, but it’s a crucial step.

Important: Check whether you have metrics on existing new member communications such as open rates, responses and conversions. These can help you identify the weak spots and provide opportunities for improvement.

2. Work with your administrator

The development of a new onboarding program is a collaborative effort between key divisions of the business: marketing, operations, member services, risk and compliance, etc. But there are also external stakeholders to consider – your administrator being at the forefront. It’s likely they’ll be responsible for issuing the Business as Usual (BAU) welcome materials as well as workflow processes and CRM systems.

It’s imperative you understand how the administration system works, what you can change and how, its limitations and opportunities. You should be able to refresh the existing letters, emails and documents your administrator sends out, but you may not have the ability to send a series of personalised emails and mailings that are data driven with multiple variables.

This was the case for some of our clients. To work around these limitations, we developed the series of personalised campaigns that formed the new member onboarding program and sent them out directly from the Fund, effectively overlaying the administrator’s existing BAU communications. Overlaying the program meant clients achieved the level of personalisation and flexibility they wanted and enabled them to be more agile: tracking, reporting and refining the program as they needed.

On the flipside, while that level of agility is hugely beneficial, not having the new member onboarding program integrating with your administrators CRM and/or marketing cloud platforms (if they have them), means member conversions and actions aren’t recorded in real-time. Due to the manual work around, you may experience a delay in member actions being represented in the administrators CRM where all of your member data is located. You will need to ensure you’ve accounted for any delays and/or manual data collection into your program.

Important: Work closely with your administrator to explore your options. Some changes to workflow may take time to implement and may need to go through a series of approvals.

3. Check in with your default employers

You work hard for your default status, but are you making the most of it? Do your employers understand the default process or who you are and how you can benefit their employees? Are they providing their employees with all the information they can about you and superannuation? While you can’t control how your employers communicate super to their employees, you can give them the tools and information needed to be sufficiently equipped to communicate your fund and super effectively.

An employer engagement program is likely to already be in place, but the implementation of the new member onboarding program presents an opportunity to speak with your default employers to identify new opportunities to communicate with their employees. Ask whether you can add material to their letter of offer pack, run information seminars for staff or attend pre-employment events.

Where possible, track metrics – how many employees join your fund from the prospective pool of new employees? This information can be used to help set some goals for acquisition.

Important: Never assume! Ask the questions and find out how your employers talk to new employees about your fund.

4. Determine your key messages, actions and timing

Determine your key messages, the resulting member actions you want to encourage and how and when you want to communicate them to members.

Superannuation funds have a tendency to lump ALL of the key messages and actions into the one piece of communication. This neither engages nor drives actions from members. It makes for an overwhelming and confusing communication piece and doesn’t allow for an ongoing journey of communication and education with the member. We recommend one key message per communication; for example, one piece might discuss finding lost and/or other super accounts and another insurance through super. Focus on simple, easy to understand communications that clearly explains why members should care enough to take action.

For many super funds, the key activities for new members include online account login, growing super through member contributions, finding lost and/or other super accounts, learning about the various investment options, understanding insurance through super and whether it is right for them, accessing financial advice, ensuring contact details remain up-to-date and nominating beneficiaries. You can explain these topics using a variety of methods, including case studies, examples and videos – with clear calls to action.

Personalising the communications is an incredibly effective way to engage members and add value to their experience. Using member data to communicate tailored messages and timing the communications strategically, demonstrates an understanding of the individual member and their situation. This type of data-driven communications enables you to communicate the right messages at the right time and provides the member with valuable content.

While not all funds will have this capability, it’s worth exploring your options around personalisation. For smaller funds, a personalised approach may mean picking up the phone and talking to new members.

Lastly, make sure the medium fits the message – for example, online login lends itself to email rather than hard copy. You can use AB testing to determine which delivery methods gets the best results.

Important: Think outside the box when it comes to ways you can improve your member experience. Try personalised videos and/or outbound calls to welcome new members to the fund and encourage engagement.

5. Review. Report. Refine. Repeat.

Once you’ve locked down your new member onboarding program, you need to track its ongoing performance.

There are a range of measures you can use, and the first port of call is to track how your members are engaging with the initial communication. The beauty of digital communications is the ease of tracking member engagement. You can track the email open rates and call to action click throughs. Then follow through to tracking how members engage with any landing pages, digital portals or website pages that formed the call to action. This digital tracking provides you with insight into how your new members engage with your communications.

Diving a bit deeper, it’s important to assess whether new members took any of the actions highlighted in the communications. This is where you’ll be able to articulate a tangible Return on Investment (ROI) result to executives and the board when reporting on the program. Again, how it’s set up – whether through your administrator or as a fund driven overlay – will determine the way in which you gather this information.

To capture and collate this data, it’s beneficial to flag campaign activity and action on an individual’s record, but this is something not all funds have the ability to do. In other instances we have worked with clients on submitting robust data/reporting requests based on the members targeted in the communication. It’s worth exploring how you can track this data in your own fund. Regardless of what works for your circumstance, it’s a good idea to become best buds with one of your internal data / business analysts to assist with this sort of reporting. They are one of the best assets you can have in determining the metrics, developing the report, finding the gaps and refining for improvement.

Important: Don’t fall into the set and forget trap! Identify and keep track of your key metrics. If something isn’t working, switch things up and refine your approach.


An effective new member onboarding program will evolve over time as you factor in new means of communication, technologies and personalisation techniques.
The digital world is forever evolving and there are always new and exciting ways to engage with your members. As digital solutions become smarter and increasingly intuitive, we see this area of communications further refining it’s targeted and personalised approach, ensuring the best user experience.

Having an engaging and effective new member onboarding program is good for members and funds. It’s a valuable opportunity to educate members and encourage them to make good choices about their super. Plus, it’s the first step in a lifelong relationship between you and your members.

Communicate to capture fund merger value

If you’re a super fund Chair, Trustee Director or CEO then fund merger may well be high on your strategic agenda. While sealing the deal is no easy matter, the next priority is ensuring the strategic value stays intact by retaining existing members and participating employers.

You may have heard it’s all about stakeholder communication. But what does that mean? Experience from working on five of Australia’s largest fund mergers shows it pays to follow a seven step process.

Step 1: Prioritise Stakeholders

First, ensure you have a complete list of all relevant stakeholders. Ask yourself, who is potentially impacted if we merge? Then prioritise according to how important that stakeholder is to the success of the merger, and how they will view the proposed merger.

If you have individuals or stakeholder groups who are critical to success but not expected to be in favour, it becomes essential to ‘woo and win’ them with extra effort.

Typically members will sit at the top of the list. Consider segmenting your members. Active members and pension members may view a merger differently or you may want to give extra attention to your high account balance members.

Next on your list is likely to be participating employers, again segmented, usually by number of members. Many funds use an account structure so that their largest employers get special attention.

Ensuring the ongoing support of your sponsoring bodies – both employer and union – can be critical to preserving the value of the deal. Board members who have relationships with those sponsoring organisations can play a key role with one-on-one, targeted efforts.

Step 2: Set Success Measures

One communication goal may be to ensure members understand how the merger is in their interests, feel positively or neutral about it, and ‘do nothing’. In this case your success measures may be 100 per cent member retention, no loss of members beyond natural attrition, and achieving positive or neutral feedback through the contact centre and field staff.

Step 3: Consider Relevant Risks

Steps 1 and 2 will typically highlight communication risks. These can be integrated into your overall merger risk plan and assessed according to likelihood and severity, with appropriate mitigation strategies put into place.

Suppose you’ve identified the potential loss of union support, putting in jeopardy the fund’s default status in an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement that is about to be negotiated. Your risk management strategy may include targeting specific individuals within the union and having the CEO and sponsoring body’s Trustee Board members visit.

Step 4: Develop Compelling Key Messages

Your topline merger story needs to spell out the high level benefits the merger
will deliver and why you have chosen that particular partner. Part of the merger story is inevitably about how members win. It needs to be simple to work across all your stakeholder groups. Your topline story then gets ‘topped’ and ‘tailed’ according to the interests of each stakeholder group. For employers, will there be more client managers, improved administration systems, duplicate members merging accounts? Maybe your participating employers already have employees in both funds, so the merger will make their lives easier.

Step 5: Identify Tactics, Tools and Channels

Sometimes this will be about tapping into existing tactics, tools and channels such as your website, contact centre, next scheduled mailout or eDM. For employers, it may be about leveraging your existing account structure and contacts. You may also need to add new tactics, tools and channels such as a specific merger mailout or targeted print or radio advertising or utilise social media channels. If you are the successor fund and not a lot is changing for your members except the fund will grow in size, your announcement won’t need as much effort as it would if your members are merging into a larger fund they don’t know much about.

Step 6: Complete Your Activity Plan and Rollout

If you’ve done your planning thoroughly, everyone involved in the communications effort should be clear about the activity, who is accountable for it, when it happens, the key messages, and any supporting communications pieces required. The most critical part of the rollout is sequencing: who gets told when and ahead of which other stakeholder groups and what do you tell them? You need to balance this with the risk of a leak. Don’t forget that your managers will want to know ahead of their people and they’ll need to be equipped to deal with questions from their direct reports.

Step 7: Refine Ongoing Efforts

This last step is simple but powerful. Don’t forget to include de-briefing on activities and to gather feedback and measure effectiveness as you go during implementation. That way you can refine ongoing communications, improve the effectiveness of your communications and act quickly to adjust as required.

Talking fund merger? Contact Transform CEO and Director, Chris Dvoracek, directly for a confidental conversation about your communication needs on 03 9532 8342.

Transform Communications welcomes Nicole Farrell to the team as a Senior Consultant

Joining Transform in October, Nicole brings a strong background in superannuation communications, with over 14 years’ experience at TelstraSuper across a broad range of marcomm activities. This includes the development and delivery of strategic communication plans; end-to-end management of communication projects; development of complex digital tools and calculators; website development; direct marketing; integrated campaign management and insurance/compliance communications.

Nicole is passionate about delivering quality communications that drive engagement and an enhanced member experience. She brings a focussed, results-oriented approach and, with many years of project team experience, enjoys collaborating with stakeholders from across the client’s business to deliver optimal communication outcomes.

Nicole is excited to join Transform and utilise her insurance /compliance expertise and broad base of communications experience to add value to a range of client projects. Since commencing with Transform, Nicole has been busy with insurance and PDS communications and is fully expecting more to come with Putting Members Interest First (PMIF) communications front of mind for many clients.

Nicole holds a Bachelor of Arts with a Double Major in Communications and prior to working in super held three different roles at ANZ, including PR Manager for their Rural Banking division.

Nicole is a dedicated animal welfare advocate and outside of work is the current President of Oscar’s Law, Australia’s key volunteer organisation fighting to abolish puppy factories. She also enjoys travelling and is a bit of a foodie.

Putting Members Interests First – Annoyance or Member Engagement Opportunity?

It’s been quite the year for super funds. We’ve all felt the crunch industry wide as we’ve scrambled to meet the Protecting Your Super (PYS) requirements and deadlines. And now we’re looking down the barrel of the Putting Members Interests First (PMIF) reforms with the added burden of significant regulatory fatigue.

But does it have to be all panic and mayhem? Could we not flip the reform on its head and look at it as a significant member engagement opportunity? Here at Transform we enthusiastically say yes and here’s why.

Member Retention and Education Opportunities

PMIF presents us with a unique member retention campaign opportunity, as well as a significant member education piece that may have otherwise been skimmed over in the past. It gives us that much needed nudge to really think about the members impacted by the PMIF reform, look at how we communicate to them, with what messaging and through which channels.

Targeted Messaging

The under 25 cohort provides an opportunity to engage and educate a traditionally disengaged audience. The PMIF reform has a direct and immediate impact on them, unlike retirement, which is a lifetime away. It is our job to ensure we effectively reach and engage these members to drive the best member outcomes.

The same goes for the group with an account balance under $6,000, which will be most members on joining, unless they roll in funds. Another great chance to engage and educate them around insurance in super with relevant and targeted messaging, as well as position other relevant calls to action around the communications. Consolidation anyone?

Strategic Forward-Thinking

There’s also the need to look ahead strategically. Specifically around your new member onboarding journey and how you educate members about insurance in the post PMIF world come 1 April 2020. Super funds can build on their already established new member onboarding journey with additional segmented touch points, that incorporate targeted messages around insurance and supporting educational articles and/or videos. Or build a new member onboarding journey with the added PMIF complexities in mind – thinking about what differing messages go to which groups that ensures members are adequately educated and informed to make decisions that best suits their individual needs.

ASIC’s Expectations

ASIC has been doing their own work around PMIF and a recent ASIC media release and letter to trustees stresses their expectation of Funds to improve the standard of their communications to members about the reforms. The expectation being that communications be developed with the member’s best interests as the number one priority.

It’s a big piece of work and there’s a lot to consider, with a number of internal and external stakeholders to engage. Plus there’s more to the picture then what’s mentioned above, you’ll also need to implement PDS updates and Insurance Change SENs.

Based on our experience across a number of funds, we’ve done the groundwork developing a high-level Marketing and Communications Strategy for the PMIF reforms that takes into account the complexities of the compliance requirements. We believe a robust, yet flexible communications calendar is needed that includes a variety of tools and mediums to maximise reach and better engage and educate your members around PMIF and insurance in super. Your current new member onboarding program needs to be assessed and the new variations to the segmentation identified and their targeted communications developed and implemented. All while you action the required updates to your PDSs and the Insurance Change SENs.

The key communication focus across all of these elements being the requirement to provide members with the most balanced and factual communications, allowing them to make informed decisions that best suit their needs, while at the same time ensuring it’s engaging and educating.

10 ways to make your employee share plan work harder

Remuneration executives have long appreciated the value of employee share plans in driving improved business performance by creating a direct link between employee and company performance. That’s because when employees own shares, they think and act like owners.

As Andrew Porter, President of Group of 100, explains, “when an employee can directly see how improvements in the bottom line of a business can benefit them, they become more motivated – generally speaking – and the business improves.”

Research has shown employee share ownership can increase productivity by up to 5% when combined with employee engagement and involvement. But to drive engagement you need to build awareness, understanding and commitment – and that’s where employee communications come in.

Here are 10 ways to improve the effectiveness of your share plan communications:

1. Explain where your share plan fits into your company’s vision and strategy.
2. Reduce the complexity of your plan design, especially if your company is global.
3. Remove as much tax, legal and compliance jargon from your communications as you can.
4. Support employees with investor education – don’t assume they understand how shares work.
5. Update employees regularly on the plan, using a mix of tools and channels, from face to face to digital.
6. When the share price falls and rises, use it as a chance to talk with your employees.
7. Make your plan part of your value proposition to attract potential employees.
8. Ask executives to endorse the plan and equip managers with consistent messages about your plan.
9. Establish feedback loops to understand employee perceptions, misconceptions and information needs.
10. Create a culture where employees are advocates of the plan.

There are several advantages to giving your employee share plan a bigger role in your performance and rewards framework. For example, employee owners are more likely to:

• be an advocate for your organisation
• be loyal to its products and services
• participate in company decision making
• pay closer attention to financial targets, ongoing results and waste
• seek out issues and problems to improve and fix
• continue to reinvest in your company through the share plan over time.

Lifting engagement isn’t as easy as changing a logo and adding a tagline to your plan. If the plan is poorly designed in the first place, no amount of lipstick will make it more attractive.

Optimum results need effective plan design and effective employee communication to drive awareness, understanding – and ultimately – behaviour change.

So why not take a look at refreshing your share plan communication and engagement strategy – you might just be surprised by the number of lights it turns on right across your organisation.

How can super funds better meet senior members’ needs?

Increasingly funds are positioning themselves as a fund for life, offering members the ability to save for retirement and then to draw down on those savings as pension income in their post-work lives.

But how well are super funds catering to the needs of members in their post-work lives to ensure they truly are a fund for life? Here’s some of the trends we’re seeing that are set to shift how funds communicate with, and meet the needs of, their older members.

Retirement has retired

Retirement is now viewed as a ‘second act’ where personal growth, expansion, learning, socialising and contributing to the community are important in ensuring a happy (and long) retirement. It’s no longer just about recreation. The concept of retirement as ‘slowing down’ (and sometimes viewed as ‘retiring from life’) is dead.

So too is the idea of being in full-time work one day and retired the next. Now the journey into retirement might mean transitioning through part-time or contract work, a late in life career change, starting a business, volunteer work or taking up further study.

The new retirement changes what funds communicate, the methods of delivery and the supporting services they offer to members. Increasingly, there is emphasis on planning holistically, taking into account relationships, health and wellbeing, and finances. Retirees want a fulfilling and meaningful post-work life, not a permanent holiday.

Not one homogeneous group

Ageing members are incredibly diverse. Think about the needs and lifestyle of someone in their 60s compared to someone in their 90s. Then add in the complexity of personal circumstances. Someone in their 60s bringing up teenage children in a blended family with a mortgage and school fees has a completely different set of needs and interests to a debt free 60-year-old with adult children and grandkids.

The importance of segmentation and tailored, personalised communication is just as important in the post-work phase as in the accumulation phase. Member profiling and segmentation based on life stage and behaviours rather than physical age is important. And its importance is only going to grow given Australia’s ageing population.

Fear of outliving savings

One of the biggest fears of retirees is outliving their retirement savings. With rising lifespans, members can now look forward to up to 40 years in retirement. At the same time, more and more retirees are still paying off a mortgage, many are still supporting adult children, the divorce rate amongst retirees is increasing and many are forced to retire earlier than they would have hoped.

The role of property as a retirement asset is also undergoing generational change. Some lucky retirees own prime land or inner-city property and they’ve had strong capital growth since 1992 – giving them the choice of downsizing or leveraging that asset for retirement income purposes. Others are in a different position. Retirees who are renting, particularly in capital cities, face rent taking a large chunk out of their superannuation savings. Funds can assist members in addressing both a shortfall in savings and ensuring available funds last for as long as possible.

Age is about mindset, not physical age

The concept of ageing is being reinvented. Good health is viewed as something that can be maintained for longer and so, if you’re living a healthy lifestyle, age is more about mindset than physical age. Most 60s do not consider themselves old – it’s the new 40s and 70 is the new 60. Unfortunately, 80 is pretty much still 80 because of declining health but the point is retirees don’t see themselves as old until declining health plays its part. Leading funds recognise this by engaging members with lifestyle-based communications that talk to members’ interests rather than communications that are triggered primarily by regulatory change.

Three phases of ageing have different needs

Research suggests there are generally three post-work stages of life – an active phase, followed by a sedentary phase and then a dependency phase. The active phase is usually the early years of retirement, the sedentary phase is when health starts to decline, and the dependency phase involves a need for aged care or assisted living.

These phases don’t apply to all and vary in length across individuals, but research tells us that expenditure levels vary at each stage. This has implications for the products and services funds offer to members. Funds can assist members to prepare for and navigate each stage with flexible products and services that cater to changing circumstances.

Fresh ideas on reshaping services and communications

A fund for life means engaging with members, no matter what their life stage or circumstances. Leading super funds will be those that expand their focus from the accumulation phase and retention at retirement to identify the needs of their ageing members and delivering services and communication to match those needs.

Find communicating insurance a challenge?

These 5 insights will help you connect more effectively.

With Protecting Your Super and now Protecting Members’ Interests First, communicating insurance has been big for super funds in 2019. If you work in the super industry and find it challenging, you’re not alone. In a live poll at the 2019 August Group Insurance Summit, 44% rated communications above pricing, claims handling and services as their greatest challenge.

Here are 5 insights that will help you connect with your members more effectively.

1. Focus on what matters to members

Different demographics have different concerns. For younger members, insuring their ability to earn a living is likely to resonate more. Older members with financial commitments and a family have more to protect but may be struggling to work out how much and what kind of cover they need.

A 2017 MetLife survey of 1,500 working Australians found three key benefits had the greatest appeal to members:
• the tax advantages of premiums being paid from super
• lower costs resulting from bulk purchases of policies
• automatic acceptance without the need for a health check.

Yet these same benefits have low levels of awareness. The same survey found 56 percent were not aware of the tax benefits and 61 percent were not aware that insurance is bulk purchased as a group life policy. Some 52 percent were not aware that many super funds automatically accept people for insurance cover without requiring a health check.

You can instantly improve your communications by focusing on what matters to members – not what you think they should know or care about.

2. Dispel myths and misinformation

If you’re working in super you probably won’t be surprised by MetLife’s 2019 PMIF research finding that many younger members don’t know they have insurance in their super, let alone what type or how much they’re covered for. This reinforces the need to repeat the basics to generate awareness.

What may really surprise you, though, is that most think life insurers pay around 50 percent of claims when in fact APRA and ASIC statistics show 92 percent of finalised claims on insurance through super were paid in 2017.

Basic education around what cover is provided, what it’s good for, your fund’s claims payment history and how to make a claim can help bust myths and build trust. So too can using member stories to bring dry information to life and make it meaningful.

3. Show value for money

The same PMIF Metlife research indicates that if you ask members to estimate their cover and the cost, they’ll get it wildly wrong. Most grossly underestimate how much they’re insured for and over-estimate the fees. So give them the facts: what cover they have versus what they pay. Don’t rely on them getting details of their cover amounts and fees off an annual or twice yearly benefit statement – instead incorporate that information whenever it’s relevant. Even better, make it something they can relate to – for example, insurance cover for “the cost of a couple of cups of coffee”.

4. Use personalised content + multiple channels

Digital and data make it easier than ever to serve up content that’s tailored to your audience. Use those data insights to decide how best to segment your membership to make your messages relevant and reduce complexity.

Ways to segment include age, type of cover (default vs tailored), life stage, how long they’ve been with the fund and more. Personalised content makes it easier to simplify your message whereas a ‘one size fits all approach’ leaves you having to incorporate content for all kinds of cover variations. Anything that simplifies your message will improve understanding.

Providing information in more than one channel allows people to access information in a way that suits them and helps to build product literacy. Everything from your regular benefit statements to text messaging, emails, letters, your website and outbound calls can carry content about insurance. All those communications can include a call to action about contacting the fund for help deciding on the right level of cover, with reassurance the fund is there for them. MetLife research indicates 7 out of 10 members believe it’s the role of their super fund to assist them with insurance cover – don’t let them down.

5. Deliver the right message at the right time

Life changes such as getting married, having a baby, changing jobs or buying a house are all triggers for getting or increasing insurance cover. Big changes like this are opportunities for engaging members around their insurance cover. The challenge for super funds is to identify these trigger times. This is where data analytics comes in, based on indicators such as change of name, address change or beneficiaries being updated. Smart use of your member data and the insights it provides can lead to better outcomes – for your members and the fund.

We hope you find these insights helpful. If you’d like to find out more about how Transform Communications can help with your insurance communications contact our CEO and Director, Chris Dvoracek.

Transform’s brand story

15 years of Transform

Who we are and what we do

We’re the communications agency for super, reward, employee and change communications. Being specialist is what sets us apart.

Our areas of specialist expertise have evolved over the years, as you’ll see in our brand story.

Our current logo, launched in April 2017, was created by the design agency U-bahn. The tagline The expert by your side is all us.

We aspire to work in partnership with our clients as their trusted advisor – to walk by their side. Credibility, reliability, building a genuine connection and acting in our clients’ best interests are core for us.

Specialist expertise is half our story, applying it to deliver measurable results is the other half. We’re all about motivating behaviours and generating outcomes.

Turning complex information into clear communication. Cutting through complexity to deliver compelling content. Bringing clarity of thinking to complex situations.

Those things are as true now as they were back in 2012 when we came up with Complex to clear for our tagline. The talented Karen Rumley from ID Yours designed this logo, complete with accompanying squiggle.

We started off life in 2003 as Transform Consulting, with a focus on employee communication and change and organisational development (OD) consulting, Which is why Business success through people was our very first tagline – but one we dropped in 2005.

That was the year we added our first superannuation client, CONNECT Super (since merged with Cbus). Strategically we shifted our business to be a specialist communications agency, moving away from OD consulting and became plain “Transform”.

Karen Rumley designed our first logo, refreshed it in 2012 and continues working closely on many of our client projects. Which makes me reflect…

While some things change, others stay the same

Our core values from 2003 are the same today, continuing to underpin our brand and our behaviours.
* Client satisfaction – practical solutions our clients own and value.
Results – measurable or demonstrable business value.
Quality – our clients are entitled to our best work.
Relationships –we value people and relationships.
Innovation – we’re “expert learners” actively learning and growing with our clients.

We continue building on these in line with our brand values – retaining our focus on clients, results and quality but with increased emphasis on our people and sustainable growth.

An enduring vision

Delivering quality work, benchmarking against the best globally, producing measurable results, working with a talented team – including an extended team of expert communications suppliers – and having some fun along the way… that pretty much sums up my vision when I founded Transform.

While not everything’s gone to plan, I’m grateful that much of the time we’ve been able to live that vision.

If you’re reading this, chances are you helped get us to where we are today.

You have my wholehearted thanks for being part of our journey.

Oh yes and stay tuned: there’s more to come!


Christine Dvoracek

Director & CEO, Transform

High water mark in insurance

The Insurance in Superannuation Voluntary Code of Practice is helping to focus funds’ attention on insurance benefit design and communication to members.

We look at how adopting parts of the Code could be good for members and a market opportunity for funds.

It’s been a long road for the Insurance in Superannuation Working Group (ISWG). After nearly 18 months, five discussion papers and more than 70 submissions, ISWG’s Superannuation Voluntary Code of Practice comes into effect from 1 July 2018.

Funds adopting the Code have three years to comply with its requirements but a number have commenced work already. In this article, we focus on three key standards that could be good for members and may give adopters of the Code a competitive advantage, as well as help them avoid member complaints:

* Ensuring automatic insurance cover is appropriate and affordable for your membership
* Better insurance cessation arrangements
* Clear communication principles.

While industry stakeholders have raised the Code’s implementation cost, potential inconsistency with regulation and its non-enforceable nature, the standards highlighted above could be good for members and represent a market differentiator for funds.

Making insurance ‘appropriate and affordable’
A key objective of the Code is to ensure that insurance offered on an automatic basis in super is appropriate and affordable, and must not inappropriately erode retirement income.

Section 4 of the Code includes standards to assess a member’s insurance needs based on specific criteria and states that cover costs should not exceed 1 per cent of an estimated aggregate level of salary. For young members, the levels of cover or premiums will likely be lower.

Opportunities for super funds
Section 4 of the Code represents an opportunity for funds to make their insurance offer more competitive and more closely aligned to member needs. It is also an opportunity to re-engage with members on insurance cover in super, particularly younger members. Funds must communicate any changes to their insurance design and publish their insurance strategy to help members determine whether cover is right for them, as well as details on how the fund determines cover for young members.

If funds can get their messaging right and empower members with clear choices at an early age when they join, this can help establish a strong fund-member relationship for future years.

A changing landscape
AustralianSuper has signed up to the Code and is already working to implement the Code across its membership base. AustralianSuper is also reducing its insurance premiums and, from November 2018, new members under age 25 will not receive default insurance, but have the option to purchase it. Although these initiatives are separate to implementation of the Code’s requirements, they are in accordance with the requirement for automatic insurance cover to be appropriate and affordable.

The fund’s head of insurance, Richard Weatherhead, chaired the ISWG’s technical committee and has guided AustralianSuper’s thinking on the Code. In our past discussions with Weatherhead, he shared the following insights into AustralianSuper’s experience and the potential benefits for adopter funds and their members:

“The key thing for the member is that they have confidence when they join. That they are going to have a robust insurance package that’s designed to meet their needs and doesn’t unduly erode their account, and secondly, when they change jobs they won’t be stranded with multiple insurance policies. And finally, and most importantly, that they have confidence through the claims process; that their claims will be handled fairly and in a timely manner.”

Better insurance cessation arrangements
Section 4 of the Code also introduces consistent standards to improve the cancellation and reduction of cover. The Code steps out methods, access to instructions, specific information to communicate, and time frames.

Standardisation equals a better experience
In our experience, the approach taken by funds for cancelling or changing cover differs significantly. Some funds make it very clear how members can increase their insurance cover but not so clear how members can reduce or cancel their cover. For example, it is often hard to find instructions on a fund’s website. The Code states that clear instructions must be provided and lists where it must be provided.

Similarly, some funds are happy to receive a cancellation request by email. At the other end of the scale, some funds prefer various request forms to be lodged. The Code should help remove any confusion for members and protect both parties.

Superannuation Complaints Tribunal tips
The Tribunal suggests a range of tips for funds to help improve consumers’ understanding of insurance:
1. Clearly communicate the insurance offering upfront, including the level of cover provided, what the premiums are and how they are calculated and charged, and any opt-out provisions
2. Clearly communicate any changes in the payment of insurance premiums and/or related advice
3. Where possible, include the impact on the member, using examples and/or calculations that clearly demonstrate the differences in the calculation of premiums and the level of cover
4. Provide clear instructions for opting out of or cancelling insurance cover, and advise members when you have not been able to act upon their instructions.

Less confusion, less risk
Adopting the Code’s standards could help trustees avoid disputes, such as case D16-17\087 brought before the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal. In this case, the member wrote to their fund requesting the cancellation of their death and disability cover. The fund replied with a letter and a form to sign and return to confirm the instruction. The member read the letter as confirmation of cancellation, however, and did not return the form. The Tribunal noted that the fund’s letter did not state that the member needed to return the form for cover to be cancelled, and highlighted various instances of unclear wording. The Tribunal set aside the trustee’s decision and substituted its own, resulting in the trustee refunding nine months’ worth of premiums.

Clearer communication principles
Section 5 of the Code is designed to help members make informed decisions by providing easy to understand information. This includes using plain language, testing insurance concepts with members, providing key fact sheets with welcome packs, using standard headings for definitions and adding more information into annual statements. (Section 5 aside, standards for improving communications are contained throughout the Code.)

Complaints and enquiries
Over the past two years, Transform has produced the Tribunal’s Annual Report. As published in the 2016-17 report tabled last October, total complaints and complex enquiries were up 17 per cent on the previous year. We think adopting aspects of the Code may help funds to avoid some of the insurance-related, complex administration complaints and enquiries.

A chance to improve understanding
We note that insurance premium deductions were a popular area for complaint last year. The Code’s key fact sheets should make it easier to interpret and understand product features up front. Clear and consistent details about premiums should help members. Other sections of the Code, such as 5.11 to 5.16 on insurance definitions, may also improve member understanding. While the non-enforceable Code seems broadly in line with the Tribunal’s tips for better communication (see box), success will hinge on the extent of industry uptake and the capabilities of individual funds during adoption.

The Tribunal’s chairperson, Helen Davis, shared the following observations:

“The Code presents an opportunity for trustees to address communication with members. Complaints about the deduction of insurance premiums often come down to how clearly any changes have been communicated, including any opt-out or cancellation provisions.

“While all good communication pieces are compliant, not all compliant communication pieces are effective. In addition to meeting disclosure requirements, trustees should think about the member experience, and ensure they’re communicating in a way that their members understand.”

Transform’s insurance checklist for trustees
1. Transform’s insurance checklist for trustees
* Engage your people
* Implementation of the Code will involve most of a fund’s operational areas, so ensure sufficient resourcing
* Set aside time for informal conversations and formal feedback
* Develop a clear position and strategic direction.

2. Audit your existing insurance
* Review your existing insurance products
* Map insurance messaging through your member touchpoints
* Audit your communications channels against the Code.

3. Engage your members
* Communicate proactively about the Code and your fund’s position
* Be ready to answer questions about your compliance with the Code
* Tailor your communication to segments, such as under 25s.

4. Make small improvements now
* Explain concisely the value of insurance through super
* Adopt a clear, approachable tone of voice.

5. Make longer term member experience changes
* Cut technical, legal and compliance jargon from your communications
* Focus on creating a smooth, end-to-end insurance experience using human-centred design
* Regularly test products, communications and processes with real members.

Want to hit the ground running with the new Code? We can help. Contact Ian Taylor, Principal Consultant , Transform Communications or Christine Dvoracek, Director.

Get in touch

Phone +61 3 9532 8342
Mail PO Box 316 Elsternwick VIC 3185 Australia

Stay in touch

Sign up for useful tips, news and ideas.