The old adage that good things come in small packages perfectly describes a niche industry superannuation fund servicing the Australian real estate industry. REI Super was launched in the mid-70s, initially just for the various state Real Estate Institutes, before embracing agents and employees in 1990. Now it has 30,000 members.
To put it in perspective, it has just over $1.3 billion under management compared to the likes of AustralianSuper, which has close to $100 billion, or other large industry funds that are in the $30–50 billion range.
However, there’s no ‘small fund syndrome’ here. REI Super prides itself on the fact that, as a result of its size, it is agile enough to react quickly to member concerns and superannuation changes. Management understands how much competition there is for the superannuation dollar and is focused on the fact that the fund exists for members, and they should not be taken for granted.
That attitude starts at the top, with CEO Mal Smith, who has been at the helm for twelve years after having spent twenty-plus years in a variety of superannuation consulting houses.
“First and foremost, superannuation needs to be transparent and engaging for members. It is usually their second biggest asset after their house, so they need to know what is happening,” he says. “It is sometimes a challenge to get people to engage early, but people are becoming more sophisticated and discerning, so the products and services we need to provide have evolved.”
Mal says that when he joined REI Super, super was more of a commodity — now members expect a positive customer experience, with easy access to the information they need, and the people they need to talk to.