Between the exceptional amount of superannuation members who are applying for an early release and those who are concerned about what to do with the volatility in the markets, call centres are being overwhelmed.
Depending on who you talk to, the number of people who have requested early release due to the COVID-19 emergency is anywhere from 300,000 to nearly a half-million. Likewise, the eventual total drawdown amounts vary wildly as well. Treasury estimates it at $27 billion while Rice Warner thinks it’ll be closer to $50 billion.
Link Group CEO John McMurtrie told Industry Moves, as of late March, member queries were up 400% and calls had increased 50%. “These have ranged from questions about the investment strategy and asset allocation of their portfolio, queries regarding the early access policy, and an increase in members seeking financial advice through their superannuation fund.
“We are prioritising particularly urgent services such as requests for access to superannuation under hardship, increasing insurance coverage, and pension payments.”
McMurtrie says that, despite Link Group having experience in quickly implementing regulatory changes, this has been a challenge because everything is so fluid.
“We are currently working with super funds and the ATO to understand the best solution to manage both the volume and the speed at which this needs to be implemented. There is already hardship access available today however, the current processes do not lend themselves to large volumes and there will need to be some adjustments to both technology and processes to accommodate.”
He says they’ll try to manage the load with their current resourcing, made all the more impressive because they’ve pivoted to a largely remote workforce. “We expect to be able to load balance across our teams, and if needed we will increase our workforce.”
With the increased focus on the superannuation system both from legislators as well as members, this is the time to review how super is categorised. “We particularly thank the ongoing work and efforts of our team members, who are integral in servicing Australia’s superannuation system, and strongly support the AIST’s call for the industry to be recognised as an essential service.”