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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 at CMSF 2018, Brisbane 14-16 March

Visit us and find out how we transform complex messages and data into clear, compelling communication that delivers results. Say g’day to Ian Taylor and Annika Raffay from the Transform team or follow us on #CMSF2018 #TransformTalks

5 ways to a winning Rem Report

Tempted to simply dust off last year’s Remuneration Report and update it with this year’s figures? After all, it got a ‘yes’ vote last time, so why not?

For one, shareholders and proxy advisor groups are increasingly looking for clear messaging around incentive pay structure and targets and how they link to business strategy. And they’re looking for evidence that pay aligns to performance, particularly for the CEO. And that’s not all.

If you’re looking to ensure your 2016 Remuneration Report stays on track for that all important ‘yes’ vote, here’s a checklist to help guide your efforts.

1. Evidence your remuneration strategy links to business strategy

Show how incentive pay measures and targets link to business strategy. You might, for example, list your strategic drivers and show how they are reflected to STI and LTI performance measures. Bonus points if you can show that incentive performance periods align with your strategy timeline.

2. How Company performance is reflected in reward outcomes

Performance down on last year? Then are remuneration outcomes for your executive team (particularly the CEO) down as well? Performance up? How has that translated into increased reward outcomes – and do the percentages tell a credible story? For example, if NPAT performance was 134% of target and the average STI award was 130%, you’re demonstrating strong alignment. What you’re wanting to show is that actual performance directly drives what executives are paid.

3. Rationale behind your reward structure and framework

Here’s where you might talk about what your marketing positioning is and why, what the mix is between fixed and ‘at risk’ reward, show how your approach encourages executives to build and retain shares (and have skin in the game) and how you have a multi-year focus.

4. Address changes in arrangements, potential hot spots and issues

Made changes – why? What’s the rationale – and how did those changes strengthen performance-reward linkages and/or benefit shareholders? What questions did shareholders or investors ask last year – and have you addressed them in this year’s report? Brainstorm what questions you’re likely to get. This is where you want to get on the front foot and pre-empt.

5. Clear messaging, infographics, tables and other visual aids

Graphics that show Average STI over 5 years mapped against operating earnings. Infographics that spell out the elements of your structure and how the align to key business drivers. Tables setting out your executive team and what they got paid for each reward element and the performance metrics that applied. There are many devices you can use to tell your story in a compelling way – the key is not to get stuck in complex technical language and fail to get a clear, consistent message across.

Get in touch

Phone +61 3 9532 8342
Email admin@transformcommunications.com.au
Mail PO Box 316 Elsternwick VIC 3185 Australia

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