Since my last update in March, our community and the world as a whole have faced great challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this time, our members have remained at the heart of everything we do.
As we reported in March, we temporarily closed Tasplan offices and enabled our staff to work from the safety of their homes. This has allowed our members to continue receiving the exceptional service that they’re familiar with.
Although face-to-face services are temporarily unavailable - meaning that our offices in Hobart, Launceston and Devonport are currently closed – we’re offering member consultations and financial advice appointments over the phone and by video. Appointments can be booked by calling our contact centre on 1800 005 166. You can also still access your account 24/7 by logging in to Tasplan Online.
Through March and April, we've continued to receive excellent service feedback overall from members and in March, Roy Morgan announced that Tasplan had received the second-highest super fund customer satisfaction rating, with a score of 72.8% for the September 2019 to February 2020 period.
The financial impact of the pandemic has affected many people and this has been cushioned by the government’s early access to super measure. To date1, Tasplan has received 12,572 applications for a total of almost $98,131,971 and has released over $95 million to eligible members who have met the payment criteria.
Although it’s been reported by the media that some super funds haven’t had sufficient liquidity2 to meet the government's early release of super measure, I'd like to reassure you that Tasplan is in the fortunate position of having strong liquidity management which we stress test to ensure we have no issues in paying benefits. Unlike some of our peers, we haven't invested in unlisted assets to the same extent, which puts us in a strong position to handle any possible impact from the new early release measures.
Tasplan's processes throughout this period have been working well with early release payments being made in an average of only 1.05 days, compared to an industry average of 3.3 days3.
We’ve identified a couple of suspicious transactions which have been referred back to the ATO for further investigation due to being potentially fraudulent.
For those who are considering applying for COVID-19 early release, it's important that you check the eligibility criteria before applying and that you keep records that demonstrate your eligibility. If false or misleading information is provided, you could face penalties of more than $12,000 for each false and misleading statement.
Is the merger with MTAA Super still going ahead?
We’re still fully committed to our merger with MTAA Super as it’s in the best interest of members of both funds, and will provide greater efficiencies, improved products and services, increased capability and better value to members.
In light of COVID-19, the completion date for the merger has been extended from 1 October this year to no earlier than 31 March 2021. By extending our merger timeline, it allows us to focus on getting members the service, advice and support they need right now. This has always been a focus for Tasplan, but now it’s more important than ever before.
What will happen going forward?
Tasplan will continue to monitor and reassess our risk minimisation strategies. We’ll continue to follow the advice of the World Health Organisation, the Tasmanian Government and the Federal Government.
Also, I urge you all to please be aware of COVID-19-related scams which are currently doing the rounds. You can learn more about them on our website.
We thank you for your continued support during this time.
1 As at 11 June 2020
2 A liquid asset is an asset which can easily be converted into cash in a short amount of time. Liquid assets include things like cash, money market instruments and shares.