May 25 2022
Further to our communication on 29 April, we'd like to provide an update as we work to resolve the member service delays, which have come about due to our recent technology upgrade.
Our expanded in-house team and the team at IRESS have resolved a large number of member service requests since 29 April, and we remain on track to clear the backlog by the end of this month.
In the meantime, if you're experiencing financial stress due to processing delays for defined benefit accounts, please call us on 1300 650 161 or 1300 655 476 and select option 2. An emergency escalation process has been established and our member support team should be able to assist.
We're continuing to experience a significant increase in calls to our contact centre and recognise that service levels remain an issue. If your query isn't urgent, we would appreciate it if you would consider delaying your contact. If your query is regarding your member number, you can now locate it using a new ‘Find my member number’ tool on the Members Online page of the website.
Our priority remains working through the significant backlog of employer submissions and member requests received since the start of the limited service period. We apologise for the delay as well as the frustration and inconvenience this has caused.
- ESSSuper Accumulation Plan Accounts continue to be invested in accordance with the investment option you have selected (or the default). Investment options are not affected by the transition. Returns will fluctuate in accordance with the underlying investment market movements.
- ESSSuper Defined benefit entitlements remain guaranteed by the Victorian Government.
- Pension and Income Stream payments continue to be made in accordance with your instructions and on time.
- The current transition has no impact on your defined benefit entitlements and/or lifetime pension entitlements from the current transition.
We understand this situation is frustrating and difficult for impacted members and we're deeply sorry for the distress these operational issues have caused. The new systems are faster, more secure and deliver enhanced functionality, and we're confident that this transition will ultimately deliver significant benefits to you, our members.
We thank you again for your patience and understanding.
Questions and answers
Are my funds at risk?
Your defined benefit entitlements remain protected and guaranteed by the Victorian government. There is no impact on your defined benefit entitlements and/or lifetime pension entitlements from the current transition.
Please be assured that all ESSSuper Accumulation Plan member accounts continue to be invested in accordance with the investment option you have selected or the default investment option if you didn't exercise an investment choice. Your ESSSuper Accumulation Plan investment options are not affected by the transition. Your ESSSuper Accumulation Plan investment option(s) will fluctuate in accordance with the underlying investment market movements.
All existing lifetime pension and income stream payments continue to be made in accordance with your instructions and on time.
What's causing the problems some ESSSuper members are currently facing?
There were a large number of member requests related to retirement and withdrawals, both before and during the limited service period that was in place to change our administration system.
Due to the complexity of the transition between systems, some employers have had issues submitting cessations and contribution data which has required our immediate attention. This work needs to be completed before we can process the majority of the backlog of member requests. These member requests include cash withdrawals, rollovers, transfers, and the establishment of lifetime and disability pensions and account-based income streams.
In addition, the volume of member enquiries our Member Service Centre has experienced in recent weeks is significantly greater than normal and, as a result, members are experiencing longer than expected waiting times on the phone.
What is ESSSuper doing to address the issues?
We're prioritising members most in need and working with our technology provider (Iress) to clear the backlog, answer queries, and resolve issues as quickly as possible. We are:
- Dedicating a team to assist employers address errors and submit contributions
- Systematically working through member enquiries
- Creating an option in our phone queues devoted to members in financial distress, and
- Bringing in additional resources to support these processes.
We expect to resolve most issues by the end of May 2022 and are confident the majority, specifically the most urgent requests, will be resolved much sooner.
These delays do not impact most requests processed through Members Online (e.g. investment switches).
Why have employers been impacted, and what's happening?
Employers have been provided with a new online system, Employer Online. This system requires employers to ensure that all member data, contributions, and payments are accurate and provided on time. In the past, we've worked with employers to fix errors to ensure payroll files load successfully and will continue to do so until they're comfortable with the new online system.
Once these transitional data issues have been resolved with employers, the Employer Online system will provide benefits for employers including online forms (as opposed to hard copy), accurate information, and streamlined processes. This will also benefit members through more accurate and up to date information.
Have existing pensions or income stream payments to members been delayed?
No, existing pension and income stream payments have not been impacted. Fortnightly payments are still being paid every second Thursday, and monthly, bi-annual, quarterly, and annual income stream payments are being paid as usual.
If needed, we have payday calendars available to download from our Publications web page.
Who is Iress, and why has ESSSuper engaged them?
Following an extensive tender process, ESSSuper's Board resolved in August 2019 to engage a third-party agency (Iress Ltd) to provide member administration and digital system.
Iress is an Australian company headquartered in Melbourne, providing global software and super administration resources. With origins dating back to 1993, they're now an ASX listed company with more than 2,000 staff. Iress supports a range of services and solutions including technology, consulting, and administration for over 50 super funds.
The benefits of ESSSuper working with Iress enables members to:
- Transact digitally on their accounts e.g. 25 enquiry types that would previously take days can now be done instantly through Members Online
- Submit requests outside of business hours, allowing shift workers to engage with their super at a time that's best for them
- Provide more flexibility with investment options utilising daily unit pricing.
For employers, Iress's Employer Online system will provide benefits in terms of access, transaction speed, quality, and security. We'll be able to better support employers in meeting their legislated superannuation commitments to their employees – our members.