The year 2020 saw (among many things) job losses, early access to super and retirees figuring out how to make their super balance work for them. It created a shift not only in the way members perceive financial advice and superannuation, but also how they engage with their super fund.

In her article “Take note: Your super will radically change in 2021” Charlotte Grieve discussed the early release super scheme that saw a staggering $35.5 billion withdrawn from super accounts nationally. She also points to the usual apathy towards super and how it dramatically shifted when people were “reminded they had ‘real money’ in super and members were forced to find their details and navigate the system.”

With a post-pandemic wake-up call—and a higher than usual level of member engagement—the time to invest in robo advice software is now. Members’ circumstances have changed, and for the first time in a long while, they are actively seeking advice and the need to understand their future financial position. Providing only holistic advice no longer meets market expectations—there is a need for a range of advice offerings to suit members requiring low, medium and high-touch advice. Robo can, and should in fact play a part in all three levels of advice.

Robo advice 101

Robo advice provides your members with a self-service online advice offering, accessible from any device 24/7. As a fund, it allows you to digitally engage with members via online advice journeys, targeting specific goals—enabling your members to execute strategies to achieve better financial outcomes.

Robo advice has the potential to cover a range of financial objective advice journeys—such as retirement adequacy, insurance needs or savings goals. In addition, it can include educational content to help members both understand and navigate their financial wellbeing.

Done well, robo advice delivers scalable financial advice and education to super fund members with a deeper, personalised advice experience relevant to their specific circumstances. And from the perspective of a super fund, real success with robo advice software is achieved by understanding where to start, what to leverage, and how to evaluate it.

Getting started: finding the right tech partner

To get started with robo advice, you need a technology partner. One that will be committed to your business. And since this is going to be a long-term relationship, it’s good to know who you are getting involved with:

  • Do they have the expertise to help your fund navigate the complexities of the superannuation and financial advice industries?
  • Do they invest both dollars and resources into enhancing your software and member experience—and evolve with you over time?
  • Does their software support open API architecture enabling the flexibility to integrate with other apps?

The real value of robo advice: creating easy and intuitive digital member interactions

Discover what your members, and subsequently, what your fund needs. Start small, test the waters, tweak, measure, and test again.

Member research and testing are critical to avoid investing heavily in overly complex software only to discover it’s not what your fund, nor your members, are after. It’s worth taking a look at the analytics from your website and linked systems to see how members are using your website and digitally interacting with your fund. While you’ll likely discover that the majority of your site visits are from your existing member base, there’s actually more information to be found. A bit like an online shopping cart that gets abandoned because of high shipping costs or a difficult checkout process—as a fund, you too may find common member drop off points. Once you know these, you can devise the right strategies to ignite re-engagement, encouraging members to return to your site and continue their financial advice journey.

It’s not just about existing members, however, it’s about potential ones too. Research shows that once someone lands on your site, you generally have 20 seconds, or less, to provide them with exactly what they’re after—and if they find what they need, they’re more likely to come back, enquire, and ideally, convert. This notion is achieved through the creation of effective and strategic user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. Is all about setting the right expectations and then meeting, or even exceeding them.

A website without a strategic design interface is akin to lining up for ice cream and reaching the front of the line only to realise they’re selling doughnuts—sure, doughnuts are nice, but you really wanted ice cream. UI/UX is your safeguarding measure to ensure what your visitors are expecting from your site, is what they get once they arrive.

A successful robo advice implementation: learning from parallel industries

As the super industry converges into the mainstream, it’s worth looking at how other financial services providers (think banks) approach brand awareness, customer loyalty, and engagement. How do they encourage repeat purchases or interactions on their site? There are gold nuggets waiting to be found if super funds are willing to dig deep enough.

Banks have done this for decades, they use their data and analytics to tailor banking products to specific demographics or regions. Whether it’s credit cards, student loans, home loan refinancing or even life insurance—they have enough information to know when, where and how to offer these products, and more importantly, to whom.

So, discover what your members like about your super fund, how they want to be communicated with, and the type of information they’re seeking. That’s where you’ll find the low-hanging fruit to up the ante on member engagement—the opportunity to diversify, target and cross-sell additional financial services digitally.

The added value: building trust and empowering members

We know that a large portion of people today want to self explore online—from insurance to mortgages, internet providers to smartphones—no matter what it is, we’re all doing at least one search before entering our credit card details or signing on the dotted line.

When it comes to robo advice, this concept is mirrored—your members are going to want to get comfortable with your online presence to start trusting in your brand. Tailored online advice journeys provide members with the opportunity for self-lead exploration and discovery. Furthermore, our experience also shows that in many cases, members also want to reach out and validate with a real person (an expert) before taking further action.

This is why it's important that your financial advice technology follows the journey from self-serve, to scaled, through to full advice—and then back again. The whole journey should be captured via one source of truth, so, at any point in time, member support teams or financial advisers can jump in and help members take action if and when required.

So, what next?

Remember, the implementation of robo advice and online digital engagement tools are not a point-in-time project. It’s an evolution, and somewhat of a moving target, so it requires ongoing investment and attention over time.

If you allow your robo advice technology to complement your traditional phone-based or face-to-face advice service delivery, your end result will be one that is far more trusted, flexible and reliable.

With realistic expectations and the right resources, you’ll attract both loyal and engaged members, because put simply, they found what they were looking for.