WIS session overview: PAYING SUPER ON PARENTAL LEAVE

WIS session overview: PAYING SUPER ON PARENTAL LEAVE

Graduate Consultants, Courtney and Tana share their key insights from the third and final session at last week’s Women in Super event. This session was presented by Gemma Pinnell (Director of Strategic Engagement, ISA); Georgia Brumby (Director of Advocacy, ISA) and Steve Bracks (Chair, Cbus). Thank you to Women in Super for organising this event and for continuing to represent the voice of women in superannuation.

With more women joining the workforce every year, and more employers advocating for the importance of senior women in their organisation, why are females retiring with, on average, a third less savings than men?

Surprisingly, 68% of Australians believe that they are still getting paid superannuation whilst on parental leave, hence awareness is low. The inequality in superannuation outcomes means that, overall, females are worse off than males (mostly due to unpaid work whilst raising of children). The ISA’s 2021 report on ‘Paying super on parental leave’ shows that:

  • Older women are the fastest growing cohort for homeless in Australia.
  • Single women are most likely to live in poverty compared with males.
  • Women make up most pension payments.
  • Women older than 60 made up the biggest proportion of Job Seeker recipients before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • ISA analysis shows Australian mothers have missed out on 1.6 billion in payments, such as the Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay.

Additionally, other data shows that:

  • Taking 5 years off to look after children costs a woman (on average) $100,00 off their retirement savings.
  • If not changed, the super gap will still exist out to 2061 and beyond.

Changes required at all levels

Whilst these statistics are alarming, changes can be made at all levels, as follows:

Federal Government

  • Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay (CPLP) is the only parental leave available for the 1 in 2 Australians who work in the non-government sector, with over 99% of women taking up this scheme.  If the Commonwealth paid super on this scheme, a mother of two could be $14,000 better off at retirement.

State and Territory Governments

  • Enforce rules that ALL employees of the state are paid super on parental leave.

Private Employers

  • Taking it upon themselves to pay super on parental leave (putting pressure on governments to do so).
  • Women (with 2 children) on a median wage, receiving both the CPLP and employer funded parental leave, would be $26,500 better off at retirement.

Percentage of industries, that pay parental leave superannuation, needs to increase

The ISA analysis shows that:

  • Only 6.9% of enterprise agreements include a provision to pay superannuation on paid parental leave.  This means over 2.3 million employees do not receive it under their enterprise agreement.
  • If all employers were to pay super on their paid parental leave, around an additional 1.7 million women would benefit.

Advocacy required for awareness and policy changes

The following integrated advocacy strategy was proposed by ISA for advocating change at both Federal and State levels:

  1. Establish a credible policy evidence base
  2. Localise data
  3. Public relations in local media markets highlighting how many women have missed out
  4. Targeted government relations, including MP briefings
  5. Advertising campaign using real members to highlight the inequity
  6. Positive legislative change for members.

As the evidence shows, considerable improvement is required to improve gender equality for women in regards to their employment and superannuation benefits. Whilst both Federal and State/Territory Governments have an important role to play, employers have an opportunity to lead the way in this space – both in terms of paying super on parental leave but also advocating for gender equality generally.

Summary provided by Courtney Andrews and Tana Pasipanodya, Graduate Consultants

WIS session overview: WHO CARES?  A FAIR SHARE OF WORK AND CARE

WIS session overview: WHO CARES? A FAIR SHARE OF WORK AND CARE

Graduate Consultant, Tana, shares her key insights from the second session at last week’s Women in Super event. Here is her overview from the presentation by Julie Fox (National Assistant Secretary, SDA). Thank you to Women in Super for organising this event and for continuing to represent the voice of women in superannuation.

The outbreak of the highly infectious COVID-19 virus over the last two years has generated excessive lockdowns, school closures and irregular work activities, meaning female-dominated industries have suffered. There are 1.5 million people working in the retail industry in Australia. This accounts for over 10% of all working Australians and they are predominately women.

The SDA, in partnership with the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of NSW, commissioned the first ever study into the ‘Challenges of work, family and care’ in the retail industry. The study received almost 6,500 employee participants, providing an insight into the daily lives of retail workers. It presented a pattern of female employees being swamped – grappling with irregular work, concerned their hours are negatively affecting their children’s’ lives and feeling punished for having care responsibilities and for relying on parents or neighbours to look after their children because of sudden shift changes.

Female workers are impacted by the following (key themes):

Financial distress

Insufficient hours and short shifts, resulting in a lack of uncertainty and control.

  • 55% of respondents live in a household with a post-tax income of less than $1,000 per week (32% of coupled parents and 80% of sole parents live in households with incomes under $1,000 per week).
  • 10% of parents do not have a regular work day.
  • 2 in 5 workers always work the same shifts each week.

Fear of repercussions and punishment

  • Cultural and systemic discrimination has impacted the careers and opportunities for women due to a lack of inadequate gender equality policies and procedures in organisations.

Access to opportunities

Access to opportunities has declined because of caring responsibilities as parental leave does not support those who need it.

  • Discrimination and return-to-work issues continue to fester within the retail industry as 14% of mothers took no form of paid of unpaid parental leave and a staggering 20% of mothers (and nearly half of all fathers) missed out of employer-funded parental leave.
  • Access and affordability of formal childcare is avoided, largely due to the cost (e.g. charging of fees in blocks as most childcares don’t accommodate non-standard hours).

Gender equality in Australia

This research has allowed for sound evidence that will help guide thinking for institutional investors as it goes into the heart of hard work and gender equality. It has played an integral role in understanding the current environment faced by women in Australia. Studies such as this allow for a voice beyond the boardroom.

Findings were also presented from the World Economic Forum’s latest ‘Global Gender Gap Report’. This shows that Australia has suffered a huge decline over the past decade and is currently ranked 50 out of 150, across gender equality indices.

[Source:  World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2021, page 103]

Working towards a solution

In order to resolve these issues, it is essential that, as a society, we recognise and value carers and that structures are created within industries to support those people who are caring for others. Care needs to be managed where workers are provided with stable, predictable and secure work to sustain a good quality of life. Furthermore, access to affordable childcare is important as it enhances participation and decreases barriers. Care needs to be recognised as a ‘critical social infrastructure’ and must be assigned a fair economic value.

****

As a young woman in the superannuation industry this information was both inspiring and concerning to me. It was extremely confronting as it reaffirmed the importance of understanding my position as a woman in this world, and the positions of so many other women in Australia. Regardless of an individual’s socio-demographic background, it highlights that we all have something in common, that is … wanting a dignified career and a dignified retirement. I hope to one day see more financial literacy and educational opportunities for young women within the Australian community. It is clear to me that further work needs to be done in this area to give women a fair chance at a dignified retirement.

Summary provided by Tana Pasipanodya, Graduate Consultant

WIS session overview: WOMEN, WORK and ECONOMIC SECURITY: COVID-19 AND A GENDER EQUAL RECOVERY

WIS session overview: WOMEN, WORK and ECONOMIC SECURITY: COVID-19 AND A GENDER EQUAL RECOVERY

Graduate Consultant, Courtney, shares her key insights from the first session at last week’s Women in Super event. Here is her overview of the presentation by Professor Elizabeth Hill (Department of Political Economy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Sydney) and Professor Rae Cooper (The Women, Work and Leadership Research Group, The University of Sydney Business School).  Thank you to Women in Super for organising this event and for continuing to represent the voice of women in superannuation.

While all Australian’s social lives, education, exercise, and work routines have been turned upside down due to COVID-19, there is a facet that has been hit the hardest. Not surprisingly, it is Australian women. Exacerbated by excessive lockdowns, home schooling, and everything else that comes with managing health, children, and well-being, it has been described as “a perfect storm” for Australian women. Whist all people have been impacted by COVID-19 in some way, it is important to note that the pandemic has exacerbated the pressing and concerning problem of gender inequality, where most women are proven to be ‘worse off’.

The main reasons why females, in particular, are struggling can be summarised as follows:

  • Structure of the Australian Economy: Australia has an 80% service sector economy which is highly feminised in specific industries. The three most female dominate careers are in education, health, and social service – which happen to contain the most important roles in a global pandemic!
  • Job growth: Women’s job prosperity grew 3% in 2019, compared to 1.6% for males pre-COVID-19. This means that organisations are hiring women more than men (women are valuable)!
  • Women’s participation in the labour market: Participation in the labor workforce is now at 60% for females. This is the highest in history.
  • Home responsibilities:  Underpaid, undervalued and overworked frontline female workforces are feeling the brunt of the pandemic and adding to the increased workload has been the pressure from home-schooling and child-care which has also grown for women.

To top this off, it has been suggested that in 2020-2021:

  • 1 in 10 women experienced domestic violence; and
  • 1 in 3 experienced abusive behavior.

So, what has the Government done?

The relief packages such as Job keeper, Job Seeker and Disaster payments have been deemed as successful, however most have ended. Additionally, it is important to note that more applications for these payments were from males not females when, surprisingly, more females lost their jobs.

The following ideas were suggested to tighten the gender gap:

A Gender Lens Response Recovery

  • look at helping women, not industries;
  • unlock women’s human capital;
  • support a low carbon economy; and
  • involve women in these decisions.

Good jobs and decent work

  • flexibility;
  • robust floor rights that include a living wage;
  • voice at work; and
  • working time security.

Fair Share Lucrative jobs

  • reduce gendered labour market segregations.

Investment in strong care infrastructure and workforce

  • close the gender pay gap.

As these are only a few suggestions that can help mitigate this striking problem, much more needs to be done. At present, Australian females are exhausted and discouraged with reduced savings and superannuation. The future may look bleak however it is never too late to change!

****

From a personal perspective, this presentation gave me more depth of understanding and exaggerated the importance of saving early in my career, not only to better prepare for the possibility of motherhood but to have the stability to overcome the struggles that inevitably come with life. Knowing where my money is going, understanding my rights regarding employment and investing in super, property, shares etc. might be small tasks now but they produce huge rewards later. With financial security, women (like myself) are less likely to feel ‘stuck’ in unjust jobs and/or relationships. In saying that, it has also highlighted the importance of helping women who are struggling. Volunteering for a charity that supports females, is one way I can help all women, regardless of their age, background or circumstances, to feel more empowered and in control.

Summary provided by Courtney Andrews, Graduate Consultant

[Information provided is from the session presentation only.  Refer to the WIS website for further information in regards to this topic.]

What makes a successful M&A?

What makes a successful M&A?

As the sun begins to set on 2021 and the world adjusts to living with COVID-19, there are some organisations that remain in the realms of constant change and potential volatility. The pandemic has arguably changed the way we work forever. Organisations are challenged with increased costs, and are being forced to develop hybrid operating models that keep their people safe and productive.

This era of transformation has produced just as many opportunities as it has challenges. Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are just one opportunity. M&A activity remains strong, due to the promised benefits of scale; efficiencies; cost reduction; increased performance; greater investment in R&D and elements of diversification. However, M&As require both a carefully considered long-term strategy and a discerning tactical approach to ensure each entity comes together as one, and remains competitive in a constantly changing environment.

IQ’s involvement with M&As continues to increase, particularly in the superannuation industry, through the provision of our advisory services, our expert delivery and our broad range of managed services. We play a vital role from consideration and planning through to making it happen, and here are a few things we’ve learnt along the way:

  • Successful M&As require clearly articulated plans and execution across several areas (no one more important than the other). Areas such as Strategic Objectives; Defined Measures, People and Culture; Operating Model; Governance; and Technology.
  • Within the M&A environment, each entity comes with its own history, current state of affairs and future thinking, so it’s important to define three things up front – the foundations, the enablers and the differentiators.
  • Recognising existing strengths across areas ensures the best opportunities are brought to fruition and that the process remains positive the whole way through.
  • The importance of culture cannot be underplayed. As a representation of identity, culture is crucial in realising both economic and social benefits for both entities and their customers alike, and should be well represented in the change management process.
  • Something that is often overlooked are the measures and motivators. Many organisations, understandably, find this a difficult area to work through. However, IQ have learnt that with clearly defined objectives, the right measures can be designed. Real value is gained through the ability to track progress over time and support decision making along the way, allowing for an efficient and productive process.
  • Customers are the common thread through all of these areas. They provide the vital external lens through which to view each organisation’s performance or social position. Implementing future-proof plans whilst improving the customer and stakeholder experience is no easy task. However, post Royal Commission, it is crucial that customers are well informed and clearly understand how changes impact them personally. Measuring how customers feel about interactions, and monitoring that at all levels of the business, goes a long way to making sound decisions that continue to deliver the required outcomes.

IQ takes great pride in supporting clients through mergers and acquisitions. Our depth of collective skills and experience combined with our chosen collaborators, helps us deliver top class results for our clients and ensure they stay on the right path and realise their long-term strategies.

By Trevor Govender, Head of Customer, IQ Group

The future of AML/CTF is about better use of technology

The future of AML/CTF is about better use of technology

Following a significant number of enquiries within the superannuation industry, the Government sought industry comments on an Inquiry into the Adequacy and Efficacy of Australia’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Regime. This poses the question “what will the future of AML/CTF in Australia look like?“

The legislation, requiring reporting entities (including regulated superannuation funds), to mitigate and manage the risk of money laundering and terrorism financing has been in place since 2006. There have been several reforms since, and most have been underpinned by:

  • reviews undertaken by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to assess Australia’s compliance with their recommendations; and
  • recommendations from the Report on the Statutory Review of the AML/CTF Act 2006.

Fortunately, we have not had a major terrorism event in Australia, however we have seen significant breaches of the law by two of our big four banks. Westpac admitted to breaching the law more than 23 million times in 2020, resulting in a record $1.3 billion penalty. This followed CBA’s $700 million penalty in 2017 for failing to report millions of dollars of suspected money laundering activity.

This year, FATF produced several publications to highlight emerging challenges in the AML/CTF space, including the Opportunities and Challenges of New Technologies for AML/CTF.

Technology is a common theme emerging from FATF analysis, and it is proving likely that this will be the key to mitigating money laundering and terrorism financing risk in the future.

In FATF’s view, the main challenges hindering the effective implementation of AML/CTF measures are:

  • a poor understanding of the threats and risks around money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF);
  • a lack of flexibility in risk assessments (based on static analyses of pre-determined data combined with human judgement);
  • decision making based on inadequate risk assessments and a heavy reliance on human input; and
  • the inability for data to be analysed at a large scale.

New technologies used in the identification, assessment and management of ML/TF risks, allows risk analysis to be:

  • more dynamic;
  • provide network analysis; and
  • operate at customer, institutional, jurisdictional and cross-border levels.

That said, optimal use of these tools requires a regulatory and policy environment that frames adequate pooling and sharing, or collaborative analytics, as well as appropriate access by law enforcement.

FATF analysis has found that the two most important preconditions, to enable adoption and use of new technologies in the AML/CTF space, are favourable regulatory frameworks or incentives and competitive costs.

So what can we expect from the inquiry? 

It’s reasonable to anticipate that we will have to change. The indications from the FATF findings are that to manage ML/TF, organisations need:

  • a robust programme that is not static,
  • to be capable of extensive analysis,
  • less reliance on human intervention, and
  • regulatory changes that support this approach.  

The enquiry findings are due to be published on 2 December 2021.

By David Hodges, Senior Consultant