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The impact of projections on superannuation contributions, investment choices and engagement

Elderly couple researching pension options

George Smyrnis, Hazel Bateman, Isabella Dobrescu, Benjamin R Newell, and Susan Thorp

This industry report investigates the impact of retirement income projections on superannuation contributions, investment choices and engagement from fund members.

Executive Summary:
Australian workers rely on information from their superannuation funds to ascertain if they are saving enough for retirement. Until recently, most funds gave members only their current balance to go on, leaving to the member the tough problem of translating that balance into a future lump sum or income stream. In 2013, Cbus sent approximately 20,000 members a retirement income estimate (RIE), along with their current balance, for the first time. The goal of the RIE trial was to help members grasp the implications of their current superannuation savings pattern for their retirement wellbeing.
The impact of this new message on members’ contributions, engagement, and investment choices was remarkable. We measure this impact by comparing carefully matched groups of Cbus members – a group who received the estimate and an (observationally) identical group who did not. The matched sample groups each include 15,273 Cbus members. Our analysis shows what members did up to end-June 2014, after receiving the RIE for the first time in September 2013.  This method allows us to draw inferences about the causal effect of the new communication.

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