Why I started a superannuation fintech business

In January, if someone had of asked me how much I had in my super account, I probably would have sheepishly mumbled something under my breath and tried to change the conversation.

The truth is, I had no idea.

How embarrassing. For someone who worked in financial services, why was I so disengaged with the money that was ultimately going to fund my retirement? It was as if 9.5 percent of my monthly pay packet was simply vanishing into some ‘super’ ether. What was happening to it? Who was using it? I was clueless.

Statistics paint a bleak picture 

I wasn’t alone in my hapless, super state – and right now, neither probably are you. According to research from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), a staggering 40 percent of young Australians don’t know how much money is in their super account. What the?

Research also shows these same people are likely to have more in super than what’s in the bank. Crazy talk. So with that being the case, I couldn’t help but wonder, given super is literally our money, why is it so super uninteresting to most of us?

Blame it on your brain

Science and the way we relate to the future explains a lot of the reasons why. Our brain is wired to primarily survive the present. In fact we care as much about our 70 year old self as we do a stranger walking past us on the street. So why the heck would we care about saving them money?

And let’s not forget once upon a time we were lucky to live to 30 (I can hear some of you breathing a sigh of relief – you made it). While it might strike you as odd, the fact is our grey matter simply hasn’t caught up with today’s expected lifespan. We’re just cave people with better clothes and smarter gadgets.

Behavioural scientists have some great, smart sounding phrases for this and other sleights of our neural synapses. Terms like optimism bias. This is when you naively believe that at some unknown point in the future, all your finances will miraculously work out. Perhaps that twice removed, childless cousin on your father’s family tree who owns that country estate in Derbyshire will leave you a tidy sum. Don’t bank on it would be my advice.

Or defaults. Chances are if everything is done for you – choice of super fund, contribution amounts, investment choices – then research shows you’ll never change out of them. Which means you could be missing out on all the benefits non-default options give you.

What is interesting about defaults is that the science shows many of us perceive a default as an authoritative recommendation, which you would assume would be in your best interests, right? But with some employer nominated funds charging upwards of 2 percent per annum on your super balance – far in excess of lower cost options – it would seem this isn’t always the case.

Oh and the list goes on. There’s functional fixedness, hyperbolic discounting, framing… all in all it’s fascinating stuff.

Zuper. Extremely super superannuation

The good news is, once you’re aware of all the ways your brain works against you, you can start to do something about it. You can start to reprogram your relationship with money and your future. Enter stage right Zuper.

In January I met two awesome guys – Jon Holloway and Eran Thomson. They’d been working on Zuper for 6 months and needed someone to join them to help steer the ship. That’s where they suggested I come in, as co-founder and CEO. Another ‘what the’ moment – but a good one. In fact it was them that asked me the question I started this article with – they had their pitch down, and it worked.

As many of you who know me well will know, leaving a company as awesome as Tyro was a hard decision. But the Zuper mission – to help make Australian’s care about super, align their passions with how their money is invested and ultimately democratise the ability for everyday Australians to build wealth – well, it was an impossible opportunity to turn down. At the end of the day, isn’t that what fintech is all about – helping the little guy? In my mind, it should be. We’ve got enough of the big ones.

To put it simply, Zuper is extremely super superannuation. Which means it’s all the things superannuation currently isn’t today. We don’t want you to obsess about your future, we just want you to care about it a little more than you currently do. And super is a big part of that.

Zuper will also let you compare your super balance with others like you, and top up if need be, straight from your phone. We even have a behavioural scientist on our team, to help us ship awesome product that will overcome that outdated wiring I mentioned earlier. That’s right, we proudly geek out so our customers won’t ever have to. As a chemistry graduate, I’m not ashamed to say I lead that pack.

But best of all, Zuper will take away the anxiety of not knowing whether you’ll have enough to retire on by helping you ensure you do. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?

So while superannuation might never have got you or I super excited about our money in the past, in the future Zuper definitely will. Namely because the aim of the game is to help you build more of it. And who doesn’t want more cash money?

I’d love to have you on our Zuper journey. So visit our website and sign up for early access to stay updated on our launch. Oh, and check your super balance while you’re at it. You might be surprised.

Curious about my other co-founders?

Read Jon Holloway’s: Why I jumped out of advertising & into superannuation

Read Eran Thomson’s: Why I started a superannuation company

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