Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Confusing and impenetrable - call in Bear Grylls!

Do you even watch Man v. Wild on SBS? Our hero with the titanium-lined digestive tract, Bear Grylls, parachutes into some remote, hostile location and then finds his way through and out. I've never seen him fail to overcome the odds.

It seems people who have superannuation accounts identify with this show. According to new Government Super Supremo, Bill Shorten, just-released Australian Treasury research shows consumers face a superannuation landscape that is similarly confusing, complex and impenetrable.

That's why Bill's all in favour of MySuper, a much simpler landscape where superfluous investment options, insurance choices and other paraphenalia requiring consumer decisions are bulldozed to allow a clear view to the retirement horizon. The theory is that people will be able to more easily get their bearings.

MySuper - would Bear Grylls approve of it? No investment swamp lands to wade through, no barbed fee structures to hack through, no insurance wilderness to traverse. No need to climb to the high ground of financial advice to get his bearings. An armchair ride to retirement nirvana. Right?

Wrong! People will be disengaged and have no more idea under MySuper of how they're tracking than they do now. They will have no better idea of whether their lifelong investment is going to deliver their retirement lifestyle objectives. Knowing this requires engagement, whether in MySuper or any other investment product.

In Man v. Wild, our hero always ends up discovering a clear path back to civilisation. But the important thing is that, to survive and thrive, to find the path home, Bear Grylls fully engages with his landscape and the challenges it throws up. Through engagement, guidance from his survival training and expert advice, he makes it. Disengagement would be fatal. To varying degrees, this is true of most things in life.

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