A Rainmaker study of extra benefits and features being offered by super funds in Australia reveals that technology and communication-oriented features are the most active area of product development.
Rainmaker noted the results show that funds realise "not all features and benefits are valued equally, and simply adding to the number of features may represent development activity but not necessarily more [member] value."
Rainmaker categorises the 50 features it assesses into broad groupings spanning member services, investment flexibility, account flexibility, insurance options, financial advice and ancillary services.
Member services is currently the most active area of fund development, the researcher said, as these services include technology and communications features such as funds having mobile websites and apps, social media presences and the ability for members to join online.
These areas have experienced phenomenal growth, Rainmaker noted in its report.
Illustrating this, the proportion of funds with mobile websites and apps doubled to 50%, the proportion with the ability for members to join online jumped nearly as fast from 13% to 24%, and the proportion with social media presences jumped almost two thirds to 41%.
Extra platform capability is enabling these feature expansions, explained Rainmaker: "these changes reflect the improvements in administration platforms and the functionality that they provide for funds to engage their members."
In contrast, investment flexibility, often conflated with de facto member engagement, experienced only marginal growth notwithstanding these features are starting from a much higher base.
Rainmaker said it was surprised to observe that ancillary features like shopping discounts actually fell even though more funds now offer discounted health insurance.
The study, released as part of the latest edition of the Rainmaker Superannuation Benchmarking report, analysed more than 500 superannuation products and 5000 extra product features. Research conducted for the Benchmarking report underpins Rainmaker's SelectingSuper product assessments.