15 December 2021
HESTA launches online tool to break down barriers to affordable financial advice
HESTA has launched a unique digital help and education approach with expanded features to improve the accessibility of financial advice to its 900,000 members, many of whom may experience barriers accessing conventional services provided by the broader industry.
Since going live eight weeks ago, more than 60,000 members have accessed the service, which HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said is helping address a large unmet need in Australia for more personalised financial support.
“Future Planner aims to bridge the gap between high-cost financial advice that often exceeds the needs of many people and do-it-yourself online advice that’s often not personalised and isn’t designed to build confidence,” Ms Blakey said.
“We started by asking our members and they told us they wanted support with long-term planning. Future Planner helps our members build confidence in their financial future by supporting them to take successive small but powerful steps that builds their confidence that they’re on track for a great retirement.”
Future Planner blends both digital help and in-person goals-based advice and leverages cutting-edge data and digital innovation to provide a more personalised experience that considers a member’s lifestyle and personal goals.
The platform was co-designed with members, who said they wanted support that could help alleviate anxiety surrounding superannuation and retirement, while building confidence to make long-term financial decisions.
Designed to motivate and empower members, Future Planner allows them to experiment, plan and take action to help achieve a better financial future.
“We know from supporting our members for more than three decades that financial wellbeing is about much more than just the dollars in their super accounts,” Ms Blakey said.
“It’s also about the peace of mind that comes from understanding you’re prepared for the future. It’s about feeling empowered that you’re going to make the most out of your super and knowing that you have trusted, expert support you can turn to.”
More than 80% of HESTA members are women. Research indicates that women are less likely to experience financial hardship in retirement if they have access to help and guidance early on in their lives.
HESTA Chief Advice Officer Josh Parisotto said many Australians believe they can’t afford financial advice and find the prospect of planning for their retirement daunting.
“It’s a common misconception that financial advice is reserved only for the wealthy but that simply isn’t true, everyone can benefit from some help or advice.
“We want to remove these barriers. By digitally scaling our help and advice via Future Planner, HESTA members can access the service online – anytime, anywhere,” Mr Parisotto said.
The tool gives members a snapshot of their future situation by incorporating other potential income, such as the aged pension, as well integrating lifestyle planning to provide members a more personalised picture of what a fulfilling retirement looks like for them.
“Information is provided to members in a format that’s easy to understand. But it’s more than just numbers and projections, it’s about members considering what matters most to them.
“We know our members’ goals are diverse. Future Planner is where money and values come together to make retirement real and more personal”, Mr Parisotto said.
With close to 30 articles, written by HESTA advisers, the substantial library provides a range of topics and expert tips to educate and help members see how they could change their retirement outcomes.
“The information presented in Future Planner is supported by our Retirement Hub concierge service, where our qualified team can either help with member questions or refer members onto our dedicated advisers at no extra cost”, Mr Parisotto said.
To bring Future Planner to life, HESTA leveraged existing digital technology architecture and led innovative collaboration across its partner network. Long-time partner, strategic design and innovation company AKQA and advice software technology experts Iress were involved.
The launch of Future Planner lays the foundations for further digital developments at HESTA, allowing the Fund to reimagine the delivery of advice to members, ultimately making it more accessible to everyone.
 Future Planner provides general advice only