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February, 2024

Brighter Super overhauls commercial team, promoting one marketer, hiring another and elevating CX as it flicks the switch from inorganic growth to growth through customer retention and experience

Super switch up

Brighter Super chief commercial officer, Sean Marteene confirmed a new commercial team has been put in place encompassing several new hires and promotions. Among these are the promotion of Brighter Super’s former head of marketing, Jen McSpadden, to the newly created role of head of retirement, recognition of her 20+ years in the superannuation sector. McSpadden came into the fold via the Suncorp super acquisition in 2022.

In her place, Brighter Super has recruited former Allianz and RACQ marketing leader, Renee Davidson, as its new head of marketing. Davidson spent the last 18 months as GM of marketing at Allianz, leaving at the end of last year following a restructuring of the insurance group’s consumer division.

Brighter Super also has a new head of customer experience, Brad Hancock, who has returned from Australia after a 20-year stint in London and North America covering marketing and digital strategy for an array of financial services organisations such as LaSalle Investment Management, Zenotta AG, Old Mutual Global Investors and Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

In addition, Cristina Saija has joined as head of product, again bringing experience in category and joining from Aware Super, where she was tasked with product strategy, development and client services as senior manager of product for three years.

Marteene, himself switching from an operational role to chief commercial officer, told Mi3 the time was right to reorient the leadership team as Brighter Super looks to switch gears from several years of building might through acquisition, to cementing its position in market. The brand, ‘Brighter Super’ is less than two years old, launching to market and customers nearly two years ago after the group teamed up with creative and media agency, BCM Group. The rebrand was launched in stages, led by the transition of LGIAsuper, then the other two businesses.

“Brighter Super over the last couple of years has been trying to deliver on our strategy, which is to be a boutique, at scale superfund providing personalised services to members in Queensland,” Marteene said. “It’s about offering both good value for money and super and retirement products.”

The inorganic strategy to get to a large enough sized superfund position has seen the $13 billion LGIAsuper fund merge with Energy Super in June 2021. This saw the group climb to about $24bn in assets under management. In April 2022, it then acquired Suncorp’s superannuation business for $45bn, turning Brighter Super in May 2023 into a $32bn fund with over 200,000 members. Marteene noted APRA guidance for minimum size for long-term sustainability in the superannuation industry is $30bn.

“The end result was we needed a different structure in place that supports that next phase of growth. Over the next couple of years, the focus is on generating great returns for our investments, service level excellence for customers and organic growth. Our aspiration is to get to $45bn [by the end of 2027],” he said.

It was therefore critical the new organisational structure brought together marketing, CX, product and a dedicated retirement focus, Marteene continued.

“Australia’s population overall is ageing. Looking at our membership demographics in particular, there are a lot of members we expect to retire from the workforce in the next five years. What you see is the industry as a whole is a shifting of focus towards members transitioning into retirement or already in retirement than before. It’s quite common to see dedicated executive roles for retirement being created as a result,” he said.

Marteene was also delighted to have someone of Davidson’s marketing calibre on his commercial team. As to CX, Brighter Super has two dedicated headcount reporting into Hancock focused on customer journeys from an omni-channel perspective.

“Whether that’s digital, as well as into over the phone service offerings or in-person, on-the-ground service offerings,” Marteene said. “While we do have another division focused on the member-facing work and contact centre work, this team is looking at the customer journeys and designing that work across the enterprise to ensure everything comes together from a customer experience perspective.”

Growth intent

The commercial leadership changes made in February are the key to moving forward for Marteene.

“I haven’t brought in incredibly capable individuals just to tell them what the structure will be. I’m looking to them to get their feet under the desk and gather their ideas on where they see opportunities as we continue to evolve our offer,” he said.

As to attaining such ambitious growth, retaining customers is vital to success. “That’s either retaining when they’re changing jobs, or as they’re retiring as well. They are the key components that will help us deliver on our growth ambition,” Marteene said.

Improving the focus on independent financial advisers is another priority. “We have a great service and support offering into that market as often we find we have shared customers,” Marteene said. “Financial advisors do provide recommendations… and we know these providers do prefer to partner with superfunds that offer good support services that help them deliver better service to their end customers.”

Then there’s building the new Brighter Super brand. Marteene agreed the volume of mergers and acquisition in the superannuation space had made it harder for customers to recognise brands and that Brighter Super has plenty of work ahead to strengthen brand awareness.

“I was speaking to some members last year and they still reference a superfund that was an old Suncorp Super acquisition of many, many years ago. It’s interesting a lot of members are asking what these new names stand for,” he said. But as members edge close to retirement, Marteene said a positive is active interest in superannuation funds and services becomes clear.

“Just using simple age cohorts, it’s chalk and cheese in terms of engagement rates,” he added. “For us, these mergers and acquisitions have created a great platform for us in our next phase of growth. We have an incredible team in place and I’m looking for these guys to pull that together using their vast experience in different industries to shape the strategies and tactics we’re executing and optimise efficiencies that deliver better value for customers while delivering solid growth for the fund.

“That’s the essence of our strategy: We call it boutique at scale, having that more personalised experience of a smaller fund relative to the likes of Australian Retirement Trust, but we’re big enough to be able to do it at a competitive pricing point.”