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Supporting retirees in retirement income planning

Complete
Partner agencies: 
Department of the Treasury
Registration date: 
Friday, 2 December 2016

This report was first published in May 2017. We republished the report in October 2017 after making minor revisions.

This study examined how people respond to a new income plan for retirement, known as a Comprehensive Income Product for Retirement (CIPR). A CIPR is a composite retirement income product which is intended to provide a balance of income, risk management (for example, longevity risk management) and flexibility to retirees. In response to a Financial System Inquiry1 recommendation, the Government has agreed to facilitate superannuation trustees pre-selecting a CIPR for their members at retirement. This study is a first step in building an evidence base to inform decisions about how best to present CIPRs to superannuation members in order to maximize comprehension, assist informed decision-making and alleviate cognitive load. Using insights from behavioural economics, we designed and tested a series of alternative presentations of information using a survey experiment based on a hypothetical CIPR.

Over 3,600 pre-retirement members across five industry and retail superannuation funds participated in the study. Members were asked to review information which compared a CIPR and an Account-Based Pension (ABP) (which is how most retirees currently manage their superannuation in retirement). Members were randomly assigned to view information about the two plans in one of eight conditions – minimal text descriptions (control); graphs showing estimates of income and assets over time; number tables showing numerical estimates of income and assets; text tables with text-based comparisons of income and assets; text tables with star ratings assigned to the plans and text-based comparisons of income and assets; and alternative versions of the text and number tables in which comparisons of income under each plan were highlighted in bold.

Pre-registration information

Australia has an ageing population. With more and more people moving into retirement, a growing number of Australians are facing the decision of what to do with their superannuation savings.

A recent inquiry into Australia’s financial system (the Murray Inquiry) recommended the development of a new retirement income product to better meet the needs of different retirees. This new product is known as a Comprehensive Income Product for Retirement (CIPR).

Whether Australians choose to take up the new product will be an important decision in planning for their retirements.

In this study, BETA partnered with the Treasury and five superannuation funds to find out superannuation fund members’ views on the new product.

Study

The study involved an experimental survey with over 3,700 members aged 45 and over. Members were recruited from five superannuation funds; BT, UniSuper, Mine Wealth+Wellbeing, AustralianSuper and QSuper.

Using insights from behavioural economics, we designed and tested alternative ways of presenting information about a hypothetical new retirement income product. The aim was to make it easy for people to understand the new product, and to help them make an informed decision.

Results

The results showed that presenting key information in a relatively simple manner helped people to make their decisions. It improved people’s understanding of the product as well as their confidence in making that decision.

Participants’ choice also generally aligned with their preference for using superannuation in retirement. For example, members who prioritised either high income or minimising longevity risk were more likely to choose the new product than those who prioritised flexibility.

Additional trial information

Intervention start and end date: Friday, 02 December 2016 to Friday, 09 December 2016

BETA ethics pre-registration number: BETA ETH 2016 - 002

Experimental design: An online experimental survey will be used to present a potential new type of retirement income plan – in comparison to an alternative plan – to superannuation fund members. Members will be randomly assigned to one (of eight) particular presentations of the plans, including a control condition.

Intervention(s): The presentations of the plans have been designed to simplify the decision-making task, and to enhance the salience of certain features.

Control condition: No additional information beyond a brief description of the plans.

Outcome(s): The main outcomes are understanding and preference-consistent choices.

Expected sample size: Approximately 5,000 people aged 45 and above

Other: The Australian Government has accepted the Financial System Inquiry recommendation to facilitate trustees pre-selecting Comprehensive Income Products for Retirement (CIPRs) for their members. The aim of the current study is to provide evidence to help the Australian Government maximise both consumer understanding, and the alignment of consumer preferences with choice, of retirement income product. In particular, the study aims to test different presentations of the trade-offs consumers face when making choices about retirement income products. The behavioural insights applied here include simplification and salience strategies – which aim to improve consumer understanding and facilitate choices suited to their needs.

Hiscox, Michael. 2016. Consumer Response to New Retirement Income Products: A Test Alternative Methods for Presenting Key Information. AEA RCT Registry. December 02.