SDT: planting the seeds of transparency and accountability

The seeds of APRA’s Superannuation Data Transformation (SDT) project have been sown, and while the industry continues to work hard developing its fields of data (pun intended), we pause to reflect on this challenging, multi-year project and what it will harvest.

Just as our resilient Aussie farmers perform through increasingly complex and accumulating economic, social, environmental and institutional shocks and stresses … so do our super funds. However, we are aiming for more data to prove it!

IQ Group continues to support clients in meeting SDT requirements and navigating one of the most challenging projects that the industry has faced in its history. The project, aimed at driving continuous improvement, addressing underperformance within the industry and ultimately delivering quality outcomes for members, is a third of its way through.

Phase 1 – Complete
The bulk of Phase 1 (which covered the highest priority data issues around choice products and investment options along with expense reporting, insurance arrangements, member demographics and asset allocation classifications) was implemented in September last year.

Phase 2 – In progress
Currently being implemented, the second phase of the project explores new and better approaches to data reporting, across all areas including governance and risk management. The granularity of data collections will increase in order to understand the needs of stakeholders. Also, any issues around duplication, or redundancy of data, will be addressed.

Phase 3 – March 2023
The last phase of the project will review and address any issues with quality and consistency, or unintended consequences of the reporting framework already implemented.

Like other significant projects, the SDT requires a lot of hard work and here’s some of the challenges that the industry is facing:

  • Little capacity to engage with consultations, particularly over the August to September 2022 period due to a number of regulatory changes (such as the expanded performance test).
  • Collecting data from insurers is not directly accessible by funds. Also, the interpretation of insurer details can vary with differences in the default employer data received from insurers.
  • Collecting data from custodians, such as Asset Allocation, is also not always available or may not go to the detailed level expected. Also, custodians are reliant on fund managers for such information.
  • Some data is viewed as ‘confidential’ by funds. For example, expenses incurred in operating the fund.
  • Collecting required data from legacy systems can be difficult as it usually requires the co-operation of other entities.
  • Multiple databases storing data may need to be amalgamated with registry system data and then converted into the required format.
  • Increased pressure to improve practices, keep a low fee base as well as providing adequate returns on member investments – given the scrutiny on improving outcomes for members.

“The data being demanded by regulators is extensive and is only going to grow. APRA is starting to know more about Funds, Trustees, and the products they manage than they do about themselves. If the Trustee/Fund hasn’t already, they need to consider this data as core business, they need to get very good at sourcing, managing, reporting, and analysing data to enable informed decisions for their business and members”.

– Peter McDonald (Principal Consultant – IQ Group)

The SDT initiative is demanding (particularly for an industry that is undergoing increasing mergers and significant change) however, it’s critical for the Regulator, along with all industry stakeholders, to effectively assess the performance of an industry that holds over $3 trillion in member assets and increasing importance in the Australian economy.

With such a large scope, extending to all products and across a wide range of reporting areas, it will be a while yet before members will reap what the industry sows and the project proves it has successfully increased the scrutiny, analysis and accountability of super. However, APRA intends to use the data in MySuper and Choice heatmaps, super fund performance assessments, the YourSuper comparison tool, publications, and prudential supervision and this goes a long way to creating a transparent industry that acts in the best interests of members and also helps government make informed decisions when it comes to changes to super.

With all this considered, perhaps we shouldn’t judge the harvest (from this particular project) by what it reaps, but rather by the seeds that it plants?

By Jocelyn Adolphe, IQ Senior Consultant

The Super Horizon

IQ Group is always on the lookout for what might change in the future. For the most part, superannuation was not a major talking point during the election. That all changed with the Liberal announcement of their Super Home Buyer Scheme.  As the final results are still coming in, we pause to consider the ‘super horizon’ under a Labor Government.

Already on the road (for 1 July)

The following measures, legislated under the previous government, are not going to be changed by Labor:

  • SG increase to 10.5% (with continual increases to 12% in 2025);
  • scrapping of the $450 per month wage threshold;
  • downsizer contribution minimum age drop from 65 to 60, as a measure to increase housing stock for families (Labor will also legislate to drop this further to age 55 in line with election promises); and
  • removal of the work test for those aged 67 to 74 years (inclusive).

Labor election promises to be implemented:

  • extend eligibility for the senior card (matched Coalition promise);
  • freeze pension deeming rates (matched Coalition promise); and
  • review benchmarking tests of the Your Future Your Super performance assessment.

On the horizon

The Labor government may also consider:

  • super for paid parental leave (not likely for a while yet as Labor currently cites budgetary repair concerns as a reason);
  • improved access and fairness of the superannuation structure for women; and
  • various protections around eligibility, unpaid superannuation benefits and contractual arrangements (that perhaps fall more into the industrial relations bucket but have an impact on the super industry).

Ruled out

  • Liberal’s announcement of a Super Home Buyer Scheme allowing first home buyers to invest up to 40% of their super (up to a maximum of $50,000) – criticised by Labor during the election. Labor had an alternate policy to promote home ownership that did not involve superannuation.

We are yet to see how the independents and other parties will influence (or not influence) the superannuation landscape under a Labor Government. However, given super has not been a significant focus during the election, its horizon looks relatively unchanged.

The industry will continue to undergo significant mergers and acquisitions and be challenged to implement the many legislative changes post the Royal Commission. However, it may just be able to take a pause, and be given a little more time to focus on consolidation of existing processes, remediation and operational efficiency rather than continued legislative change.

IQ Group look forward to continuing to support and advise our many superannuation clients on the journey ahead and making sure that the super horizon is a bright one .. for the industry and, most importantly, the millions of members that it serves.


By David Atcheson, IQ Consultant

Building Super Talent for the Super Industry

Building Super Talent for the Super Industry

HIQ Change and Learning Services (HIQCLS), powered by IQ Group, is proud to introduce you to the inaugural participants of our HIQ Academy. The HIQ Academy provides the superannuation industry with the ‘perfect match’ of skills, experience and knowledge. Participants are chosen based on their existing skillset and experience, and receive tailored training to upskill in either superannuation or business disciplines. It is the ideal solution to current recruitment challenges faced by superannuation funds and providers, and our first round of participants are a fine example of the high quality that HIQCLS can offer the industry now and in the future.

Emma Doyle (Melbourne)

I have over 20 years of business analyst experience across various domains including education, not-for-profit and business franchising. Being part of the HIQ Academy is a fantastic opportunity to deepen my knowledge of superannuation with training and mentoring from the leading consultancy in the super industry.

Having recently completed an Advanced Diploma in IT Business Analysis, the HIQ Academy builds on this training by providing insights into how best to help super funds meet current challenges and the exciting opportunities that new technology offers for improving the member experience.

My new colleagues have been very welcoming and supportive. Being part of the HIQCLS team and having access to the extensive knowledge, skills and experience of IQ Group consultants, is for me a key differentiator.

I’m excited to participate in the HIQ Academy and be given a head start in helping clients with their transformation and change journeys.

Ashley Blackburn (Melbourne)

I come to the HIQ Academy with 4 years’ experience in data analytics, data management and data integrity, as well as the creation, design, and maintenance of reports. After completing my Graduate Certificate of Data Analytics, I have chosen to continue my studies and am now working towards my Masters in Business Analytics at Deakin University.

Participating in the HIQ Academy has given me an incredible opportunity. I am offered the support I need to learn everything about the superannuation industry and connect with a wide range of skilled people. Having this huge support network and the ability to join different clients in a range of roles is perfect as it gives me a balance between a singular structured workload and a variety of projects that I enjoy and thrive in.

My first week as part of the HIQ Academy has really given me a great foundation for the industry and a refresher of concepts I already knew. I am amazed and incredibly grateful for the time taken by everyone, to ensure that we have the best foundations and support. We know we can make the connections we need to succeed no matter what role we take on. The team and culture within IQ Group is unlike anything else I have experienced, and it is clear that this has been driven from the top down through all levels of the organisation. Thanks to this support and guidance, I am really excited about what the future holds.

Lynne Kennedy (Brisbane)

I’ve spent many years in the superannuation industry gaining experience and developing valuable knowledge and skills in super and insurance. I’ve worked for super funds and administrators, all with different cultures and values.

Our introduction to the HIQ Academy has shown me that the IQ Group culture is unique and everyone is willing to offer support and assistance to each other. This collaborative approach has reassured me that I will be able to learn and grow within my new role.

While we are experiencing ‘information overload’ at the moment, I know that there will always be someone there to support me along the way. Accepting this unique opportunity to step into a consulting role, with the help of the HIQ Academy, has been one of the best decisions I could make – not only for my career but for enabling me to pursue the life I want to live.

I’m excited to be part of a company that has the respect and trust of an entire industry, to step out of my comfort zone, and to help clients navigate the complexity of an ever-evolving landscape.

Dave Enders (Melbourne)

Over the last 10 years, I’ve held a number of different roles within the superannuation industry in the administration operations space. The HIQ Academy has been the perfect next step in my career as it introduces me to a variety of new skills and experiences.

During my first few weeks in the HIQ Academy, I have refreshed my superannuation fundamentals and been introduced to business capabilities such as Business Analysis, Project Management and more. I am completing a tailored learning pathway and achieved a BABoK certification. I feel ready for my first client engagement and look forward to gaining even more experience in the industry and, in the future, becoming an IQ renowned consultant.

The support and encouragement from all the team members I’ve met so far has been great, and I’m confident I’ve got the experience, skills and support to succeed.

The new year welcomes new IQ Graduates

The new year welcomes new IQ Graduates

IQ Group takes great pride in developing young talent and kick-starting people’s careers in the finance industry. Here we introduce you to this year’s Graduates who, as per our previous Graduates, have been carefully chosen from an impressive talent pool to be just the right fit for IQ and our clients.

Tennille Christian (Brisbane)

I recently joined IQ Group as a Graduate Consultant after completing a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Management. I have previously gained a wealth of knowledge and experience through project coordination and administration roles within varying industries, and I am thrilled to now take the plunge into the world of consulting with IQ Group.

Following the completion of my degree, I sought to further my career and learning opportunities in business by joining a graduate program. The program offered by IQ Group stood out for me as it provides the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge across all aspects of both consulting and the superannuation industry. The program initially involves an intensive three-week training program, before stepping straight out into the world of superannuation consulting.

My fellow graduates and I have received a very warm welcome from IQ. We have had the pleasure of spending time with key personnel and executives, all of whom are more than willing to provide support, guidance and encouragement. I am equally excited and grateful to be given the opportunity to be a part of this program and can’t wait to continue my development journey.

Andrew Saba (Melbourne)

I am a recent graduate of Monash University with a bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Economics and Marketing. After completing my degree, I spent the next year filling a variety of different roles both in-store and behind the scenes at Dan Murphy’s. During this time, I looked forward to finding my next challenge, and I have now found this in the IQ Group Graduate program.

There were a variety of factors drawing me towards IQ Group, their reputation within the superannuation industry; the ability to work with a large variety of clients, all with differing requirements and expectations allowing me to utilise my problem-solving skills in new and creative ways; as well as the opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone while growing and enhancing my skill set.

As early as my second day at IQ Group, the team here had already given us a good feel of their values and what they are about. The time taken out by senior team members to show us the ropes and introduce us to the business has been a great look into how the team here operates. Team leaders have already taken us through some of the key requirements and expectations of our role, as well as highlighted the ways that IQ Group can assist us and our learning. The supportive culture and attitude towards personal and professional development makes me excited and I’m looking forward to the next stage of my career.

Abigail Dineen (Melbourne)

I am currently finalising a Bachelor of Information Technology degree at RMIT, majoring in Project Management. I have found during my studies that communication, and working well with peers, have become situations I thrive in and I actively seek opportunities to do these throughout my major studies. While studying IT, I’ve found many opportunities for further development due to its diverse and growing nature and I have been drawn to many avenues in this field. I thoroughly enjoy the many aspects that technology has to offer, its ever-changing nature and how influential it can be to everyone.

IQ’s graduate program will provide me with the opportunity to shadow my degree, where I am able to experience different avenues of the superannuation sector, find my feet in this growing field and learn where my strengths and weaknesses lie. My peers, as well as leaders within IQ, are already encouraging me to bring out the best in myself and my work and I am excited for the opportunities the next 12 months will hold.

IQ Group provides graduates with their career ‘head start’ through training and career development. We provide the right tools and training to ensure our graduates can achieve career success through mentoring, support and e-learning. Our graduates receive:

  • a structured program with an initial intensive skills development training boot camp, providing Business Analysis, Project Management, Data and Change skills, as well as RG146 qualification;
  • 12 months of formal mentoring by a Principal Consultant;
  • great exposure to a variety of work environments and a network of professionals within the industry; and
  • valuable experience on a wide range of engagements working with a great IQ Group team and clients.

21 years and still empowering clients to continued success

21 years and still empowering clients to continued success

This year marked IQ Group’s 21st year of operations in Australia. It’s a significant milestone and we recently toasted to our company’s growth over the last two decades with all employees.

21st birthdays are a grandiose affair for many and IQ group wanted to celebrate its symbolic ‘transition into adulthood’ with all our staff at events around the country (see some of our happy snaps below). We have taken the time to reflect on our past successes and acknowledge how IQ has matured over the years to be the successful company that it is today.

Just like a young adult turning 21, we look forward to taking the knowledge and experiences we have accumulated over these years to branch out even further. IQ has always focussed on looking for opportunities and making the most of them and we will continue to do this with supreme enthusiasm, professionalism, and support for the superannuation and wealth management industry.

The last couple of years has seen an unprecedented amount of change for financial providers in Australia. It’s been a challenging time and we are very proud of the work both IQ and our clients have done to adapt and to continue to grow during these times.

We’d like to congratulate and thank all of our clients – not just for their dedication and commitment to their customers – but for showing incredible business resilience and ultimately helping the Australian economy stay strong over the past 12 months.

The key, commonly a symbol associated with turning 21 for young individuals, represents a sense of freedom and earning one’s place in adulthood. It signifies an ‘unlocking’ of the future.  IQ has well and truly earned its place in the super and wealth management industry and as we turn 21, we continue to unlock the futures for our clients and empower them to be the best they can be.

By Katherine Forrest, Head of Consulting




YourSuper Comparison tool: a great way to compare products … or is it?

YourSuper Comparison tool: a great way to compare products … or is it?

The government’s new YourSuper Comparison tool serves the purpose of making MySuper product performance clear, simple and comparable but most importantly, it calls out underperformance against APRA’s benchmark testing.

I am a fan of online calculators and tools which make planning and decision making easier for the everyday person. Overall, I think the tool is a great initiative …. for those that invest in a MySuper product.

Features that meet the brief

Fund performance:  The tool itself provides 3, 5, and 7 year returns and fees, for products with information tailored to a member’s current super balance (provided they log into the personalised version through MyGov). The user interface requires little effort to obtain some useful, easy-to-digest performance and cost indicators. A lot of people will find the tool easy to use and compare the performance of funds, and ultimately decide whether or not they’re getting a good deal.     

Multiple funds:  Another feature that can work well towards improving member retirement outcomes is the indication of more than one super account. Consumers can choose to consolidate multiple accounts within the tool, after deciding which of their funds performs the best. All super simple stuff.

The missing piece

Once I started playing with the features and comparing funds, it prompted me to check the product performance for both myself and my wife.  And this is where the tool begins to fall short.

We don’t invest in MySuper products, so the tool doesn’t provide insight into whether our products are performing against APRA’s benchmark, nor does it provide the ability to directly compare our products against other products in the tool. This leaves us, and many others, in a position where comparability will remain relatively difficult. Given that only around 30% of superannuation assets are in MySuper Products*, I believe that member engagement will remain low.

That said, if I was in a MySuper product, the tool would be a catalyst for me to investigate products based on performance and cost. Many Australians will likely go through the process of changing funds if the tool shows their product coming up shorter than others. The problem is, I only became aware of the tool because I work in the superannuation industry. If I didn’t, in all honesty, I would be blissfully unaware of its existence and the potential benefits it holds for my retirement. More is required to create awareness and use of the tool.

Of course, the biggest benefit of the tool is that it calls out whether a product is an underperformer. An absolute fantastic feature if you are in a MySuper product, and actually use the tool. Whether people will find their way to it is the big question. The fact that funds were required to write to their members in September if they had an underperforming product, and direct them to the tool, is something that really struck me. Letters were sent to a million people. At present, approximately 70,000 of those have closed their accounts and moved to better products …. a 7% strike rate! If these members can’t be engaged in the tool, then what are the odds of anyone using it? And not to strain the point, but again this is only MySuper product members.

At the end of the day, super members who invest in a MySuper product and make their way to the tool will likely end up with a better deal and that’s something … which is always better than nothing at all.

By Paul Armstrong, IQ Consultant

* 2112 – Super stats (