Superannuation reforms research

In 2010, the Australian Government announced a range of reforms to improve the super system and better safeguard the retirement savings of all Australians. The reforms are based on the findings of two significant government reviews:

  • the Review into the governance, efficiency, structure and operation of Australia's superannuation system (also known as the Cooper review)
  • Australia's future tax system review (also known as the Henry review).

In 2011-12, we commissioned an independent research company, Colmar Brunton Social Research, to undertake comprehensive research about the super reforms. In total, 11 reports have been prepared.

Colmar Brunton Social Research undertook both qualitative (one-to-one interviews and focus groups) and quantitative (online and phone surveys) studies to examine the views and understanding of the super reforms across key stakeholder groups. This included:

  • individuals
  • employers
  • Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) regulated super funds and administrators
  • self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees
  • SMSF approved auditors
  • tax intermediaries, including tax agents, financial planners and BAS agents
  • payroll software developers.

Key research findings

The research revealed the following key findings:

  • While there is broad support for the super system as the key saving vehicle for retirement, many people continue to find super a difficult and confusing topic. Many do not have sufficient financial literacy to participate in the system in an informed way. Engagement with super has a direct link with age (existing research shows that engagement with super increases with age).
  • All employers saw the benefit of super for their employees and the nation, reducing the reliance on the age pension. Small and medium employers were mainly concerned about their business profitability and, in some cases, viability. Large employers were less concerned about the reforms. They felt the affect of the reforms could be minimised through changes to payroll systems.
  • Most SMSF trustees supported the introduction of the approved auditor registration. More than half of respondents felt that the formal SMSF approved auditor registration process and competency standards would improve the quality of the audits. Around three-quarters of SMSF auditors surveyed indicated they are likely to seek SMSF auditor registration.
  • Most software developers and providers interviewed were aware of the super reforms. Software providers emphasised the need for clear, factual information for employers regarding the super reforms, mainly to reduce the workload, but also to reduce the potential for administrative confusion.
  • For most tax intermediaries, super is seen as either a growing part of their business or a growth opportunity into the future. The majority of intermediaries are keen to be across all proposed changes to provide appropriate service and information to their clients.
  • APRA-regulated super funds had varied levels of preparation for implementing the super reforms. However, the research indicated a high-level of awareness of the super reforms and engagement with relevant peak industry bodies and government agencies.

How the research is being used

The exploratory super research undertaken by Colmar Brunton Social Research, on our behalf, included quantitative and qualitative research surveying a broad range of the community.

Findings from the research will be used to guide and inform the development of our strategic approach for the introduction of the government's super reform package. The findings will mainly help us:

  • design and implement new administrative systems and processes to support the government's super reform package
  • develop communication activities to assist and support the wider Australian community to understand the super reforms.

We continue to work with key super stakeholder groups to better understand community readiness for the government's super reform package.

More information

For detailed findings about the research conducted, refer to the individual research reports:

    Last modified: 18 Jun 2012QC 25935