#1 fund for weathering market ups and downs3
SuperRatings' Pension of the Year three years in a row4
Extensive research and effort went into the creation of QSuper’s new Lifetime Pension product, which offers confidence for retirees they will have an income for life.
QSuper's Head of Product and Services Ben Hillier delves into the key questions behind the development of the industry-first Lifetime Pension.
Q: What inspired QSuper to create this product?
BH: The thing that really piqued my curiosity early on was doing some analysis and finding out how much money super fund members were leaving on the table when they passed away. It was realising just how many people took the minimum from account-based pensions and were then leaving quite substantial balances, close to 100% of their starting balance. There were plenty of people who had grown their balances substantially, and there was a lot of people who had run out of money. It’s a wicked problem that’s impossible to solve yourself, to efficiently spend that money on yourself. And so you spend conservatively and you invest conservatively and then leave behind a substantial amount.
Q: Were people concerned they were leaving so much money behind?
BH: People weren’t really articulating this as a concern. But that’s because people didn’t know how much better it could be. I’ve spoken to well over 2,000 members over a number of years in researching and preparing this product. The inefficient use of capital wasn’t being perceived as a problem, but that’s not to say you can’t educate people that there’s a much better way.
Q: What did you find retirees are worried about?
BH: In going through the research, we uncovered quite nuanced concerns. Most people aren’t worried about longevity in a strict sense of living to a very old age. That’s not a risk that people think applies to them. Yet, conversely, they are afraid of running out of money.1 Their fears aren’t because they may live too long, it’s because they may spend too much or the market returns aren’t good enough. Many people are afraid of running out of money even though they don’t necessarily think they are going to live a long time. As a result, they are living on less than they need to.2 An example is that at QSuper about half of our eligible members take the minimum payments for super income streams. Of those, about 75% took reduced minimums when temporary reduction in drawdown rates were offered by the Australian Government during the global financial crisis and more recently in response to COVID-19.
Q: How does Lifetime Pension create better retirement outcomes for Australians?
BH: The main purpose of QSuper’s Lifetime Pension is our aim to pay people a higher income with less risk. It’s for people to have the confidence to actually spend that amount of money they need and feel comfortable that the money is not going to run out.
Q: Is there anything in the world similar to this product?
BH: Other people have been working on similar things to address this issue in Australia and internationally. The real lightbulb moment for us came when we learned about a product in Canada from the University of British Columbia called the Variable Payment Lifetime Annuity. It’s not the same as what we’ve got, but the annual indexation adjustment process where we transparently and simplistically adjust incomes based on the performance of the core option on an annual basis is what we borrowed from them. There’s a real temptation to try to solve for too much, but that creates risk. The one in Canada is devilishly simply, it’s transparent, it means your income goes up and it goes down, but it is always 100% funded.
Q: Do you have any examples of how the Lifetime Pension has benefited Australians?
BH: One of the first people to start a Lifetime Pension is a great example. This member jumped on our website straight after attending a QSuper retirement seminar and applied for a Lifetime Pension the next day. His income went up from $45,000 to $65,000 overnight. He gets higher income from a product plus a big boost to his Age Pension. He says that he is financially happier, and hopefully he’s now got the confidence to draw above the minimum and do even better than that. Obviously, this was the right decision for this member, but everyone’s circumstances are unique and we recommend reading the Product Disclosure Statement before making an investment decision.
1. National Seniors Australia, 2020. “Retirement income worry. Who worries and why?" (January 2020).
2. Actuaries Institute, 2019. “Spend your age, and a little more, for a happy retirement." Actuaries Institute media releases.
This information and QSuper products are provided by the QSuper Board (ABN 32 125 059 006, AFSL 489650) as trustee for QSuper (ABN 60 905 115 063). This is general information only, you should therefore consider the appropriateness of this information in light of your own objectives, financial situation, or needs before you make any decision. Consider whether the product is right for you by reading the product disclosure statement (PDS) available on our website or by calling us on 1300 360 750 to request a copy.
Find out about our new Lifetime Pension: a retirement income stream that never runs out
Find answers to your questions about our new Lifetime Pension
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