Suncorp Wealth Management has overhauled its communication strategy to help members better understand super, starting with a new communications guide for internal staff and a new look and feel to at least 100 types of letters it sends to members each year.
The government-backed Financial Literacy campaign gets a big leg-up from Suncorp after it decided not just to simplify its member letters but also to instill a "plain English" culture internally - starting with a 'style guide' that staff can refer to when talking to or emailing clients.
The guide, if used faithfully, can turn staff into better wordsmiths and communicators as they include writing and communication techniques taught in journalism courses. For example, it recommends staff to use "active" as opposed to "passive" sentences and make emails sound like a day-to-day conversation, not a legal document.
The changes - such as writing "If there's anything else we can do for you..." instead of "If you require further information in relation to this matter" , may sound like a small thing but speaks volumes on why people just don't like reading documents from their super fund.
"As an industry, we have collectively clouded information with the 'dialect of super', disengaging customers from their super, their money, their future," said
Vicki Doyle, executive general manager in super and investments at Suncorp.
In response, the group has launched the new communications policy to coincide with the launch of WealthSmart, the group's new superannuation platform and product suite.
Besides the writing style guide, the group also reduced the size of its product disclosure statement (PDS), limited the number of letters it sends to members yearly and took the time-consuming task of re-writing 100 letter templates to make them more reader-friendly, said Doyle.
Suncorp's latest initiative will go down well with superannuation minister Nick Sherry, who has long advocated that super fund communications should pass the Burnie Pub test and not sound like Latin to everyday Australians.
Doyle has since submitted a white paper on how to help demystify super. She has called on the government to investigate the use of standard, single terms - or a common language - to describe super.