The Australian superannuation industry has the fourth largest pool of funds in the world, with over $2.0 trillion in assets under management and total superannuation savings now exceeding domestic GDP.
While this augurs well for the future of the Australian retirement system, it raises a number of critical issues for industry participants, policy makers and fund members, both in terms of the allocation of super assets, and its impact on the economy and post-retirement income streams.
Potentially, the allocation of this significant pool of super assets provides opportunities to: drive economic growth and employment; and reshape the economy through funding vital infrastructure, supporting innovation and contributing to the development of a corporate bond market. However, much of the focus to date in the Australian superannuation industry has been on asset allocation and the accumulation phase, rather than on the post-retirement phase and Australians over 60. To maximise the potential benefit of the system for retirees, it is also important to ensure less volatile income streams closer to retirement, and appropriate financial literacy and advice.
After exploring these issues with academics and industry participants, both domestically and internationally, CSIRO and Monash University identified a research agenda to help solve some of the issues emerging from this rapidly developing industry. The CSIRO-Monash Superannuation Research Cluster Program commenced in 2013 as a multi-disciplinary international undertaking supported by funding under the CSIRO Flagship Collaborative Cluster Funding Program.
In addition to its own researchers, Monash University as lead research partner has brought together academic teams from Griffith University, the University of Western Australia and the University of Warwick in the UK. These research teams together with researchers from CSIRO meet on a regular basis with a range of private and public stakeholders to explore and seek feedback on the research agenda. The Cluster Leader chairs the Cluster Management Committee, and reports on an ongoing basis to the CSIRO Flagship Director regarding the conduct and outcomes of the research. The project is supported by the Australian Centre for Financial Studies in dissemination and events.