Superannuation research cluster

While some may look at the workings of Australia’s $1.6 trillion superannuation system and consider it a black art, thanks to a $9 million research program, a CSIRO-Monash Superannuation Research Cluster is aiming to apply science and logic to two key themes; Superannuation and the economy and Australians over 60. The $9 million in funding will come from three sources; a $3 million Flagship Cluster Fund grant from the CSIRO, a $3 million in-kind contribution from university partners and a further $3 million from industry partners and government agencies.

Researchers from Monash University, Griffith University, the University of Western Australia and the University of Warwick in the UK, will combine their knowledge to look at the optimal forms of asset allocation by super funds. As the pool of funds under management grows ever larger, the cluster will also look at how this will affect economic growth. In an attempt to further assist fund members post-retirement, it will also investigate which products and services could be made available to retirees.

Although far removed from the usual work of the CSIRO, Chairman Simon McKeon said the cluster was a good fit, “This is an exciting new development for our organisation which provides advice on many of our nation’s most profound challenges. For the first time we will be involved in research in superannuation, an industry that is reshaping our economy as funds under management grow exponentially.”

The Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Financial Studies, Deborah Ralston, has drawn the program together for Monash University. Research teams from the CSIRO will join academic researchers in the program, which will also include ten multi-disciplinary research teams. Professors Gordon Clark from Oxford and Paul Gerrans from the University of Western Australia will examine member asset allocation preferences and switching behaviour, Professors Michael Drew and Robert Bianchi from Griffith will lead teams in infrastructure investing and member outcomes and Professor Tony Harris from the Monash Centre for Health Economics will lead a team examining health costs and needs for those in retirement.

Research work has begun and the first outcomes are expected by the end of the year.

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Written by Debbie McTaggart