Have you ever wanted to interview a consulting specialist?
We sure did – today we’re bringing to you transcripts of an interview with three of our specialist consultants, Elizabeth Blythe, Joe Strati, and Krupa Steffanoni.
1. Why do you love what you do?
Elizabeth: I love to help people, and I love to learn. Each new client brings opportunities for both, and I’m always so proud of a job well done.
Joe: I enjoy the variety of working in a team within different organisations to improve business outcomes and customer experiences. The teams form long-standing relationships and remain in contact well-beyond the end date of the project.
Krupa: I love solving complex and interesting challenges. In the world of Business Transformation you get to see that happen in a tangible way.
2. What was your favourite project and why?
Elizabeth: I led an end-to-end Digital Strategy rollout which changed the way the company engaged its customers and had a measurable, positive impact on my client’s bottom line.
Joe: I led an activity across an entire organisation to satisfy changes in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing legislation. I worked with a terrific group of people and the work resulted in compliance by all entities to the AML CTF Act.
Krupa: Mine was a corporate entity simplification at a Wealth Management firm – a great mix of regulatory changes, system changes and people changes.
3. How is consulting different from other roles you’ve had?
Elizabeth: Unlike other work I’ve done where the only brand I represented was my own, I’m now a representative of IQ Group. It has both another layer of responsibility, but also a sense of support, identity, and belonging.
Joe: Consulting differs as it requires me to develop a deep understanding of a client’s organisation and their needs. I draw upon my knowledge and experience to provide an unbiased recommendation to help clients resolve problems or exploit opportunities.
Krupa: As a consultant, I need to be able synthesise a lot of information about the client and their needs very quickly. Additionally, I need to understand culture and dynamics of the organisation and work out the most effective method for style of delivery.
4. How do you believe IQ Group makes a difference to clients?
Elizabeth: IQ Group takes its responsibility to deliver to clients very seriously. We build partnerships and are responsible for ensuring client objectives are achieved, which is very different to, for example, hiring a PM through a recruitment agency. When I’m in the field, IQ Group as a whole supports our client and ensures the results I provide match their needs.
Joe: IQ Group brings value to a client with our specialist knowledge and experience. We are focussed on working with clients within the superannuation and wealth management industry. We are actively involved in the largest industry bodies and have demonstrated time and time again that our team delivers.
Krupa: IQ Group brings a unique blend of skills – superannuation industry experience along with technical and functional experience such as project management/change management together in a role to help clients achieve the best outcomes.
5. What trends do you believe will have the biggest impact on the Superannuation Industry?
Elizabeth: The philosophical direction that regulation is taking. The government is currently defining the purpose of superannuation, which will change how regulations are made, and what their purpose can be. Regulation is always expensive for the industry, but hopefully this will reduce complexity and increase synergy around regulatory requirements.
Joe: I believe that government initiatives to streamline super will have the greatest impact on the industry. Reducing the likelihood for multiple superannuation accounts, reduced administration for employers and automated reporting will impact both superannuation members, employers and funds.
Krupa: Digital disruption is changing the way funds and its members interact. From a fund’s perspective, business analytics will drive new business and retention. Changing demographics of members will mean that in order to for a fund to engage them, an important part of marketing strategy will be to increase online and digital interactions.
6. If you could have dinner with anyone past or present, who would it be and why?
Elizabeth: I’d go with Warren Buffet because I think I could learn a lot from him in a single sitting, both in terms of world view as well as a shared interest in Financial Markets.
Joe:If I had to pick only one, it is the exceptionally talented Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci had a brilliant mind, and his ideas were centuries ahead of his time. I am fascinated to know what inventions he would imagine possible if he could utilise today’s resources and technology.
Krupa: It will have to be Indra Nooyi who is the current CEO of PepsiCo. She is ranked in the World’s 100 most powerful women, and I would like to know what her recipe for success is.
Stay in touch with IQ Group here.
In 2017 we will be launching the Pat Baker Foundation in memory of a wonderful colleague. Instrumental in building IQ Group in Australia, Pat Baker was a kind, enthusiastic and a genuine man.We hope by starting this Foundation in his honour his memories live on.
The goal for the Foundation will be to help two charities, including one international and one national charity.
Nominated by ballot, our international charity is Hopes and Dreams™. Hopes and Dreams™ has two key goals – to provide clean water in remote areas in Africa and India and assist the poor in providing Micro Enterprise Development opportunities. The focus is on extreme poverty where people live on less than $2 a day.
Hopes and Dreams™ coach and train beneficiaries to run successful viable and independent micro businesses.
With the goal to change someone’s destiny, the concept is to teach small business skills to help women that would not necessarily be able to borrow funds to start a small business. With a small loan and a mentoring program women use their skills to generate an income that can in turn fund the next batch of stock for ongoing trading.
Our support of Australian charity, The Smith Family is another community-based initiative with a target for IQ Group to support five school kids receive a better education. Continuing the theme of breaking the poverty cycle, The Smith Family focuses on children and the belief every child should have the opportunity to an education.
By helping to provide this we are empowering these young minds to build a future for themselves.
IQ staff decided instead of donating Easter Eggs they collected money for The Smith Family.Together we collected $460.
I am proud to have been nominated as the Head of the Pat Baker Foundation.As a mother, I understand that a child’s education is very important and I want to be able to help make a difference.
On behalf of IQ Group and its staff we will be supporting our nominated charities, Hopes and Dreams plus The Smith Family and ensuring the legacy of Pat is never forgotten.
Head of Pat Baker Foundation
Consultant – Business Analysis
The Productivity Commission has released a draft report on the selection of default superannuation funds – how you are allocated to a fund if you don’t make a choice. Where it has received the most attention is for its apparent efforts to move the arrangements away from the industrial relations system. At the moment, unions and employers agree on the default super funds that are listed in each industrial award and enterprise agreement.
Reducing 90 Per Cent of Existing Default Funds
The report is also noteworthy in putting forward four models for a new default system, each of which is generally intended to reduce the number of default funds to between four and ten.All default funds must now be MySuper authorised and there 120 of these – so this means they are recommending the wind up or merger of over 90% of existing default funds.This would result in massive change regardless of the timetable for change.
These changes have to clear many political hurdles before they become a reality but this blog focuses on changes that will almost certainly take place regardless of what the Productivity Commission recommends.
Like every other report in recent times, the Productivity Commission recognises the role of technology and associated government initiatives in improving competition, but their report follows these developments rather than leads them.
Follow the technology work in progress
The draft recommendations read as if they are suggesting initiatives to build on the existing specs for Single Touch Payroll.In fact, they are mainly identifying work already in progress.
The report recommends allowing members to register online their choice to open, close or consolidate accounts when they are submitting their Tax File Number on starting a new job.It also recommended facilitating the carryover of existing member accounts when members change jobs.Both of these are already in the draft design principle for the new online forms for new employees.
An ATO forum held earlier this month presented the draft design principles for employee commencement, and these included:
“…the process should not encourage the unnecessary proliferation of multiple member accounts (e.g., including avenues to facilitate consolidation of multiples by a member and the simple selection of an existing account where required).”
The Commission recommended “universal participation” in these processes, suggesting compulsion.In contrast, the ATO is proposing to roll out these new online forms on a voluntary basis.I question why compulsion would be necessary if the online form can present such an overwhelming value proposition.There may be a comparison here with ATM’s and bank branches:ATMs may be voluntary but they have well and truly taken over from the use of bank pass-books.
Creation of a Central Payment Hub
It is also curious that the Commission has recommended looking at the establishment for a single centralised clearing house by the government – a payment hub by which employers would make contributions to all super funds.There are many stakeholders who would have supported this approach as part of the initial design of SuperStream some years ago, but I don’t know if they’re now recommending the dismantling of SuperStream, gateways and the gateway network or if they were not fully appraised of the extent of these things over the past few years.
It is hoped that the Commission’s approach can be used as a way of facilitating the further development of SuperStream and Single Touch Payroll, and that their understanding of some aspects can be addressed in the responses to their draft report
The take out from all of this is that the industry should just get on with it, implement new technologies, and work closely with enabling bodies like the ATO and gateways to make change happen and improve the member experience.
Like all super funds and administrators, the IQ Group has been involved in the design and implementation of SuperStream and other technology solutions from the start, and we work closely to help deliver efficiencies and solve problems.
Executive Superannuation Policy Advisor
Over 100,000 university students every year hit the job market and the race is on to secure a great job. There is a wide variety of graduate programs to choose from and here at IQ Group we continue to grow our graduate program to meet industry demand. We’re looking for the right candidates, and hopefully they’re looking for us too. For graduates wondering if they are the right fit for financial services, this blog is here to help.
How can you prepare yourself for a graduate program in Financial Services?
Practically every person in the modern world uses financial services, whether it be for daily banking, wealth management, or superannuation. With a major impact on people’s financial security, it is one of the most highly regulated industries in Australia. It also evolves constantly with new technology – digital currencies, data mining, mobile applications, and online customer engagement models are just the tip of the iceberg amongst current trends.
Thus, opportunities are diverse, and a graduate role is a springboard into a wide range of careers. Be prepared to pass both police and background checks. Read industry news sources and be aware of current legislative changes. Study various financial services products like superannuation, insurance, mortgages, and investments – you may even want to become RG146 accredited to better prepare yourself for this highly competitive environment.
What characteristics do I need to succeed as a graduate consultant in Financial Services?
Consulting is ultimately about achieving great customer outcomes whilst balancing the revenue needs of the organisation you work for. A consultant must learn to understand their clients’ needs and environment quickly, demonstrate expertise to earn credibility, build relationships to earn trust, and deliver consistent results. To achieve this at the graduate level, a prospective consultant must be extremely adaptable, present well, have excellent communication skills, and take the responsibility to represent themselves and their consultancy seriously. This takes self-motivated individuals with high degrees of independence and a proactive attitude. And don’t forget to be keen to learn – it’s all about learning, initially.
The career path in consultancy moves through phases broadly progressing from graduate to associate consultant, then consultant, then senior consultant, and potentially to principle consultant. This relies heavily on a consultant’s ability to create and add value, network, and eventually generate business directly by providing clients superior services.
What do graduates in consulting companies do?
The emphasis of the program is learning, of course, but graduates pass through three stages over a one-year period. The graduate program includes a mix of online and face-to-face training, including on boarding and ongoing accreditation requirements. When ready, a graduate consultant will be placed on client site with a senior consultant where they have a mentor-style relationship. Throughout the year, they’ll receive support in honing their skills, and perhaps choosing if they wish to specialise in the type of work they do.
Take the advice from Simran Kaur, a successful IQ Group graduate:
- “Be open to everything, experience the various roles and see what suits you best at the end of it.Everyone is here to help guide and mould you to succeed.”
- “Attitude is important – be positive and can-do. Go out there and try your hand at everything you can.”
- “Work on your communication and interpersonal skills constantly; if you’re a consultant, you’re going to need them.”
If you want to know how you or someone you know can become a member of the IQ Group graduate program drop us a line.
Senior Consultant at IQ Group
It’s a truism that the Internet and advances in technology have connected things as never before, and that these connections have enormous real-world implications. For the most part, this increasing interconnectedness has resulted in better, quicker and more efficient customer services, and it’s difficult to imagine a world without it.
SuperStream is something that has increased the interconnectedness of the superannuation system – and funds, employers and above all members have been the beneficiaries of faster transactions, fewer roadblocks, streamlined administration, and greater consistency and transparency.
There has been significant investment in SuperStream by super funds, employers, payroll providers, software developers, administrators, gateways and clearing houses, and – courtesy of the levy on APRA super funds – by the Australian Taxation Office. This investment is starting to pay off, and the year-on-year benefits can be measured in the billions of dollars.
Increasing reliance on ATO services
The ATO has been the primary driver of the implementation of SuperStream, consulting with stakeholders, preparing the timetable, and developing a wide range of enabling services. A panoply of acronyms – FVS, EPF, SuperTICK, EmployerTICK and SuperMatch – identify these enabling services that variously allow member, super fund and employer details to be obtained, checked and validated. These services are increasingly vital to the efficient operation of the superannuation system, and are increasingly built into superannuation fund processes.
It is paramount that the connection to these services is ‘always on’, because without them now the superannuation transactional network either stops, slows down or is potentially compromised. Some super funds may have alternatives sometimes and to some extent but these alternatives will progressively cease to exist as fund systems further develop and integrate, and SuperStream continues its onward march.
ATO system outages impact superannuation transactions
This is what happened with the ATO online services system outages in December 2016 and February 2017 as a result in a failure in their storage hardware (and not the result of a security attack). The outage affected all ATO systems including superannuation enabling services. In the first outage, there was a substantial loss of capability for up to eleven days.No superannuation information was compromised and client records remained secure and intact. Nonetheless, the outages sheeted home the increasing dependencies of the superannuation on the ATO.
A PwC review and an internal ATO inquiry is looking into causes, impacts and consequences of the outages.It is clear that they need to potentially look at this from a whole-of-system perspective, and move toward a possible risk management framework that covers funds, intermediaries and regulators.
I don’t know what the reviews will find but it is very difficult to step back from an increasingly integrated system.The ATO has played and continues to play a critical role in the technological evolution of superannuation, and has been innovative and forward-thinking.
Meeting the challenges of an integrated system
ATO enabling services in particular have helped strengthen the spine of integrity of the system.They and other services still in development will help them to collaborate with the industry to address issues as disparate as unpaid super, lost super and the unnecessary duplication of accounts.It is important the Government recognise and fund the ATO to undertake these vital activities, while also guarding against the downside risk highlighted by the outages.
IQ Group has been a participant throughout the SuperStream journey from the very beginning until the present day, and we remain committed to our goal to continue to play a role in helping funds map the way forward, meet their SuperStream obligations, leverage these changes to deliver efficiencies – and solve problems.We are working closely with funds to mitigate disruption and deal with disruption outcomes, as well as continuing to work with the industry and the ATO on day-to-day industry matters.
Executive Superannuation Policy Advisor, VIC