Completing the SuperStream vision

When SuperStream came into effect for all businesses from July 2016 it heralded a new era of simplicity for employers and super funds by creating an electronic, seamless flow of information between payroll systems and the superannuation industry.

Significant progress has been made in making it simpler for all parties but gaps still exist - resulting in the need for manual interventions and rework.

While the system works effectively in sending payroll information to super funds - the information flowing from super funds back to the payroll systems is not able to be fully leveraged for a number of reasons.

Employers send information to super funds each payroll cycle and the funds send messages back to the employer highlighting issues with the data provided but these messages are generally not acted upon. This results in data issues detected by the fund repeating every payroll cycle - the same data issues keep coming back.

What kind of data issues?

Contributions which break fund rules, money being sent to a fund that is unable to accept it and personal information which doesn’t correlate are just a few common ones.

We estimate about 5% of the data going through SuperStream requires manual intervention, largely due to recurring errors.

And given SuperStream’s transaction volumes, significant time is spent by both super administrators and employers investigating and correcting these data issues, pay cycle after pay cycle.

As part of our product development and research we regularly speak to employers about their pain points.

They’ve told us of their frustration using less intuitive SuperStream portals making it difficult for them to understand and correct data issues simply, with minimal effort.

Super funds are doing their best to help employers. They spot errors and fix them to prevent them being sent back to the employer. But the problem is, the same errors keep occurring.

We estimate about 5% of the data going through SuperStream requires manual intervention, largely due to recurring errors.

What’s the impact on members?

Firstly, any time there are errors relating to their super contributions their hard-earned retirement savings are effectively out of the market - potentially preventing them from earning returns.

Furthermore, precious resources are being spent on needless re-work. There’s no value to the member in this.

So what’s the solution?

We’ve developed a service we call SuperConnector. It is a reimagined SuperStream service that delivers on SuperStream’s goal of improving the automation between employers and funds.

SuperConnector improves automation by leveraging the data returned from the funds in prior pay cycles to improve the success rate of matching payroll information with the fund information. SuperConnector also remembers how employers and the fund corrected previous data issues, and based on these learnings, can automatically resolve data issues in future pay cycles.

We estimate we will move SuperStream automation from the current 95% level to 99.5% or more.

We estimate we will move SuperStream automation from the current 95% level to 99.5% or more.

We’ve also designed the SuperConnector employer portal to be intuitive and easy for employers to use to fulfil their SuperStream and Single Touch Payroll obligations.

Superannuation jargon has been removed, while regularly used functions and the history of prior submissions and calls to action are centralised on a dashboard landing page. Submitting SuperStream and Single Touch Payroll messages has been enhanced to make the process simpler, including intuitive validation and correcting of data issues, in bulk, through a single click, wherever possible.

We estimate that for super funds with 500,000 members, every 1% improvement in SuperStream automation equates to a reduction of between three and five full-time administration resources. The resources can be freed up to focus on value-added services for members and employers.

Clearly, this is a better outcome for members, funds, employers and the superannuation industry as a whole.

The vision for SuperStream was a vastly-improved superannuation back office which would significantly improve the productivity of our superannuation system; making it simpler and easier to use.

The legislation and associated reforms achieved part of this. Technology, such as SuperConnector, has the potential to fully realise the potential.