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Mergers push member positivity

The recent merger activity in the superannuation sector is received positively by members but engagement is still underwhelming, new research shows.

The latest Investment Trends Super Member Engagement Report showed nearly a third of members see merging with a larger fund as a positive outcome compared to 11% that see it as negative.

Despite this, the majority of members remain indifferent to the outcome.

Of the 11% who believe it is a negative outcome are mainly concerned with the potential impact on higher fees and lower returns as well as changes to customer service.

"There is a general view that engagement between Australians and their super fund is underwhelming, but our research shows that super fund members are very much engaged with current events, having strong opinions about their super fund's strategic decisions," Investment Trends senior analyst Bailey Hao said.

"Super funds that are in the process of merging, or thinking about doing so, will do well if they alleviate their members' top concerns of potential increased fees and underperformance. But our research also highlights that branding plays a key role."

The majority of members (78%) are indifferent as to whether their super fund plans to change its name and branding post-merger, 18% oppose this.

Hao said this is due to members believing the existing brand represents the member base well and a rebrand would be a waste of resources.

"To limit member attrition, super funds must ensure some semblance of their current identity and values is retained before rebranding to appeal to a wider member base," Hao said.

A recent report by KPMG found that increased merger activity in the superannuation sector will see most of Australia's retirement savings managed by just 12 funds.

The most significant is the QSuper and Sunsuper merger which will create a roughly $200 billion fund when it completes in September.

The executive line-up for the post-merged entity was named earlier this week.

LGIAsuper will scale up to a $28 billion fund after impending merger with Energy Super, and purchase of Suncorp's superannuation business.

The $61 billion Hostplus has entered a partnership with Maritime Super.

Last month, Club Plus signed a memorandum of understanding with AustralianSuper to create a $207 billion fund.

Read more: Bailey HaoClub PlusEnergy SuperHostplusIntrustInvestment Trends Super Member Engagement ReportKPMGMaritime SuperSuncorp