A view from Australia: Supporting members and partners during the COVID-19 crisis

Monday, June 1, 2020 | By Jude Metcalfe, Managing Director

A view from Australia: Supporting members and partners during the COVID-19 crisis

Three of the most commonly used words right now are probably: “unprecedented,” “disruptive” and “extraordinary.”

An example of how these words are playing out in everyday life is the fact that Australians withdrew over $1.3 billion of superannuation in the first week of the new early release rules to help those suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  A total of 107 funds made early release payments.

With the government passing emergency legislation in March, those who the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) deem eligible can access two tranches of $10,000 from their retirement savings over two years: $10,000 by June 30, 2020, and a further $10,000 from July 1 to September 24, 2020.  The ATO handles the initial application and then sends it to superannuation funds to process payments within five days.

Unsurprisingly, with these enormous numbers of withdrawals, many funds simply don’t have the capabilities to meet the demands of these exceptionally high numbers of transactions. As a result, the news headlines are filled with stories about superannuation funds experiencing “technical glitches.”

In line with all Australian superannuation funds, SS&C’s clients are also seeing a large number of requests from their members to access their funds to meet these deadlines.  Through an understanding of these issues and working closely with our clients, we were able to process early release payments in a timely way.

In these unprecedented times, with higher than average volumes and many employees working from home, technology is the glue that’s keeping operations running. Understandably, many firms are looking at their systems and operating models and questioning how well they are performing.  Some have done better than others. Those that have done better have optimized the use of reliable partners who specialize in operations and technology.

Many organizations have invoked business continuity procedures; however, many of these plans did not account for the magnitude of the transition to remote conditions. As we look to transition back to our offices, we are facing the challenges of keeping employees safe in the workplace while we continue to service our customers.

The current situation we are all living and working through highlights the need to continuously evaluate our collective organizational resilience. At SS&C, understanding this is a stressful time for everyone and ongoing communication help during this time. The reality of the world right now is that there are so many things we don’t know—how and when the pandemic will end, and what the future will look like. In such times, management must be open, honest and provide confidence. There is a plan to manage this volatility. The objective should be to articulate the risks and issues and offer an approach to how, by working together, we are dealing with them.

We will continue to work to ensure our technology remains at the forefront of the industry. When we get to “the other side” of this crisis, we believe planning, use of effective technology, strong leadership, cohesive and effective teams, will ensure that organizations come out of this more reliable, more resilient, and ultimately more successful than they ever were.


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