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Research Reports

Rice Warner invests extensively in research and it is a core part of our business. Critically, our philosophy is not to simply collect market data, but to interpret that data and provide useful insight that will assist our clients to improve their business outcomes.

Spanning the superannuation, life insurance and investment segments of the financial services industry, Rice Warner’s research includes market analysis, market projections and likely future trends. Data is sourced through many different channels including publicly available information, client surveys and data gathered through consulting assignments.

The reports have been updated over time to reflect changing technology with copies available for our clients on our Research Portal.  Some of the reports are supported by projections which can be downloaded into excel.  We also provide clients with executive briefings to discuss the implications of the report findings.

For research report purchase queries, contact us today.

Superannuation, Investments and Pensions

Every year, Rice Warner analyses the size and composition of the superannuation industry and projects forward assets and membership annually for the next 15 years.  The analysis is based on the output of a sophisticated market and population model that reflects the market structure, population dynamics and employment trends.

The report encapsulates our view of the financial impact based on current trends.  The results provide a snapshot of the future superannuation landscape based on these trends, and carefully considered assumptions which we set out in detail.

The report allows analysis of all aspects of the superannuation market including:

  • Assets held on behalf of the pre-retirement population and the post-retirement population.
  • Assets held by the various market segments.
  • The impact of contributions, investment returns, insurance and tax.
  • The differences in the experiences of men and women.

The Tailored Market Projections report and the model that supports it also allows us to provide detailed projections for individual funds.  These projections provide a sound base for strategic and business planning as they show the potential performance of the individual fund in the context of the whole market.  Expectations can be set realistically rather than simply relying on assumptions based on recent experiences.

The results can be determined for a number of different scenarios and are provided as an online interactive report for more detailed analysis and inclusion in presentations.

The Personal Investment Market Projections report complements the Superannuation Market Projections report.  It provides a projection of the personal investments market outside superannuation.  In its broadest sense, the market includes all investment assets held by individuals, either directly or through financial products, trusts or company arrangements, other than assets held in superannuation funds.

The report provides insight into the forces shaping the personal investment market and their potential impact on the size and structure of that market.

The two reports together provide a unique aggregate view of the Australian savings pool.

Our Super Insights study is now in its seventh year and involves gathering data from participating funds. Using this data, we undertake segmentation of the results across, gender, age bands, location, account balance and many other categories.

Funds who participate in in Super Insights receive the benefit of tailored analysis of their data, bringing together Rice Warner’s extensive experience in providing strategic data-driven insights to the industry.  Examples of areas covered include:

  • Analysis of accumulation and pension membership by different segments to identify key cohorts of strength, weakness and opportunities arising from the membership profile.
  • Quantifying and comparing differences between members across gender, ages and geographic area to help support advocacy work and strategic thinking.
  • Investment strategy, including participation in default strategies versus choice investments, and how choice members differ from default members to help better position investment offerings.
  • Insurance analysis, including analysis on member take up of cover and average levels of cover along with analysis of life insurance needs.
  • Exits analysis to help identify key areas of leakage in absolute terms to help inform your strategies to retain members considering the dynamics of different segments of your membership.

Superannuation funds need to embark on a period of significant development of their retirement income offerings to remain relevant and retain members. To achieve this goal, funds will likely require the support of a range of third parties who understand their needs and the ways these needs can be supported. This is a vital area for superannuation market participants – the retirement phase already accounts for over $800 billion of superannuation assets, and the number of superannuation accounts held in the retirement phase is expected to increase by nearly 50% over the next decade.

Rice Warner’s research report Retirement Solutions – Meeting the needs of Australian Retirees provides actionable insights targeted at both the funds and their partners, derived from detailed market knowledge and extensive practical experience. These insights outline key market dynamics, oncoming legislative requirements and building blocks currently and potentially available to develop a retirement-market strategy. This knowledge will equip funds and their providers with the tools they require to understand member needs and market opportunities, bring the various moving pieces together and access the opportunities in this fast-growing market.

Superannuation funds have become an important, and in many cases, primary source of financial advice for consumers. Rice Warner’s inaugural Financial Advice within Superannuation Funds 2019 report provides insight into the evolution of financial advice in Australia, and the status of financial advice in superannuation today.  The report considers the factors influencing the future of financial advice and presents a framework for developing the next generation of advice models in superannuation in the context of the ever changing regulatory environment.

Rice Warner’s Superannuation Fees Analysis 2017 was the first in a yearly, whole of market analysis of fees in superannuation. Previously these reports were sponsored by the Financial Services Council, and similar reports have been prepared by Rice Warner since 1999. The report examines:

  • MySuper and Choice – impact on fees.
  • Superannuation market influences (including RG97).
  • Detailed fee analysis and comparisons between all super fund segments.

Life Insurance - Group, Retail and Direct

Rice Warner regularly undertakes a comprehensive analysis of insurance needs for all working age individuals and family groups in Australia, to estimate the overall level of underinsurance for each type of cover, based on levels of cover currently held.

We consider the insurance needs for each family type, across factors such as age, family make-up and income levels, leveraging updated population statistics including from most recent Census.

The analysis covers death, TPD and income protection insurance and includes the impact of:

  • Social security benefits on insurance needs.
  • Levels of insurance held across the market.
  • Tax, the value of domestic production and AWOTE on insurance needs.

The Life Insurance Needs in Australia 2019 Report investigates needs on both an income replacement and basic level and includes discussions on trends.

An executive briefing to walk through the results forms part of this research.

Every few years, Rice Warner carries out an investigation into the amount of underinsurance in Australia for the main life insurance coverages, namely life, total and permanent disability (TPD) and income protection.  The Underinsurance in Australia report compares the amount of insurance cover held with the estimates of cover needed, as determined in Life Insurance Needs Report.

An executive briefing to walk through the results forms part of this research.

The Insurance in Super Bulletin provides review, analysis and commentary of topical issues in the group insurance market.  The subject matter covered in the bulletin is adjusted each quarter to reflect the current market and will be of interest to a range of insurance experts including product and pricing teams.

An example of topics covered are:

  • Member outcomes – aligning insurance-related regulations and requirements.
  • Premium rating factors.
  • Commentary on ASIC reviews and legislation changes.
  • Evolving product design.

The Bi-monthly Retail Risk Market Update provides review and analysis of product, pricing and public policy changes in the retail insurance market over a two-month period.  This report is directed at product, pricing and sales teams.

The report provides analysis of product and pricing changes and the impact to quartile ranks for all on-sale retail insurance products.  Pricing scenarios are provided for ages 20 to 70.  In depth analysis and commentary is provided for significant product releases.

Based on data housed in Rice Warner’s insurance databases the Annual Retail Insurance Review provides a detailed analysis of all pricing and product changes for each on-sale retail insurance product and tracks all changes over a 12-month period, highlighting the impact to overall quartile rank.

Based on data housed in Rice Warner’s insurance databases the Annual Group Insurance Review studies changes in group insurance within the Australian superannuation market over a 12-month period.  The report includes a summary of group insurance product changes, feature updates and pricing movements, highlighting trends and significant changes in the group insurance market.

The Direct Life Aggregator Review provides a summary of all aggregator sites selling life insurance products in Australia.  The report reviews current online functionality including:

  • product availability
  • pricing
  • needs analysis
  • commissions paid
  • purchase options
  • insurance information.

The Insurance Affordability Study considers the affordability of default insurance cover within superannuation funds at an industry level.  The study highlights areas of concern for Trustees to consider to minimise the risk of premiums inappropriately eroding the retirement income of beneficiaries.

Insurance Affordability Study highlights:

  • Member groups where insurance premium deductions negatively affect retirement balances.
  • Market trends as it relates to premium rates.
  • Death, TPD and IP price changes during the 2015 calendar year.
  • Affordability projections across four member scenarios.

Note: Tailored affordability research for an individual fund can be undertaken as a consulting assignment.

The Retail Risk Affordability Study explores the connection between lapses and affordability for policyholders. The study highlights how and when insurance sold via an adviser, on a stepped premium basis, may become unaffordable. It further considers how alternative Retail product designs that feature inbuilt lifestyle patterns and changing customer’s needs, may be one potential solution.

Rice Warner carried out a Group Claims Experience Study in 2015 which covers many aspects of group life and IP claims.  The study covers claims incidence rates, claim development patterns, IP termination rates and claim cause analysis.

The group insurance data used for this study relates to approximately five million insured lives per year and 140,000 claims.  Despite the age of the study, we believe that the results are still relevant today and the cost has been discounted from its original price.

Two versions of the study were produced, with one report for funds and a separate report for insurers.  The insurer report is more detailed than the fund report and contains actuarial decrement tables.  These tables are designed to be used in pricing and reserving calculations.  The reports cover similar material, but the insurer report has more detail and additional content relating to the underlying actuarial methodology.

Life Insurance Comparators

The Galaxy Group Comparator provides a comparison of both features and prices across 100 group insurance offers.  Group insurance offers are from a range of funds in the Australian marketplace including industry funds, public sector funds, corporate offers and master trusts. Key features include:

  • Pricing:
    • Premium and sum insured calculations for Term, TPD and Income Protection.
    • Premium and sum insured calculations for multiple products at one time.
    • Graph functionality.
    • Output can be exported in both excel and PDF format.
  • Features:
    • Key terms and conditions for Term, TPD and IP across the market.
    • Features can be viewed by individual fund or compared across a range of funds.
    • Access to latest disclosure documents.
    • Output can be exported in both excel and PDF format.

The data on the Galaxy Group Comparator is updated every fortnight.   A newsletter is also distributed to Comparator clients every 4 weeks which includes a summary of all the product changes (both features and pricing) as well as information on any changes or enhancements made to the Comparator.

The Galaxy Retail Comparator is a comprehensive tool covering open retail insurance products sold by financial planners.  Key features include:

  • Coverage of 15 different product offerings.
    • Product splits for health discounts.
    • Ordinary and super owned analysis available.
  • Premium calculations:
    • All ages, allowing the user to sort premiums at each age.
    • Functionality to include the common options in the market, such as Level premium, Guaranteed Future Insurability, Increasing Claims Benefit and much more.
    • Premium quotes are coloured to represent their respective competitive position for ease of use.
    • Absolute premium and relative graphs of the premiums are automatically generated by selecting the desired products (or figures can be exported to Excel and graphed as desired).
  • Features:
    • Dichotomous assessments are made of all the products researched; assessments identify key areas of value and differentiation in the market.
    • Text from each PDS is supplied to support and supplement the assessment, this can be viewed by feature, by product or the user can select multiple products and features to view at once (can be downloaded to excel for further analysis if required).

The data on the Galaxy Retail Comparator is updated every fortnight.   A newsletter is also distributed to Comparator clients every 4 weeks which includes a summary of all the product changes (both features and pricing) as well as information on any changes or enhancements made to the Comparator.

The Galaxy Retail Scenario Generator is a comprehensive tool that allows you to generate hundreds of scenarios in one click.  The tool is an Excel spreadsheet with a table allowing you to enter the assumptions and the different scenarios required.  A VBA macro will then query the Galaxy Retail Comparator and copy the premium results into Excel files with one file for each scenario. The tool allows the user to choose between the different types of product:

  • term
  • term and TPD (linked)
  • stand-alone TPD
  • term and trauma (linked) with the option of adding a TPD benefit
  • stand-alone trauma with the option of adding a TPD benefit
  • income protection
  • business expenses.

The tool allows simulation of all combinations of:

  • sex (two choices)
  • smoking status (two choices)
  • sums insured (12 choices with the ability to enter a different amount for Term, TPD and Trauma)
  • ages (from/to/step)
  • occupation (five choices)
  • options available (premium frequency, premium basis, GFI etc.).

In addition, for income protection and business expenses, all combinations of:

  • waiting period (three choices)
  • benefit period (three choices).

The results include all the products in the Galaxy Retail Comparator associated to the scenario.

Note: Access to this tool requires a subscription to the Galaxy Retail Comparator.

Our life insurance databases are also used to supply data and calculation processes to dealer groups. They have been supplied to a number of wholesale software providers working with dealer groups as well as to a few very large groups direct.

We also supply superannuation fund research to dealer groups. This is used to compare funds on Approved Product Lists as well as providing accurate information on funds for clients who have their super in several places.

Bespoke Research

Rice Warner undertakes a number of bespoke research assignments each year. We are able to leverage our large proprietary databases, projections models and conduct our own surveys of superannuation funds, insurers and members across the industry to deliver to clients specific needs.

We can leverage other research projects and assignments to provide our client with insight not available anywhere else.

Examples of past bespoke research assignments include:

  • Surveys and analysis of SMSF member behaviour.
  • Research on distribution of superannuation, life insurance and personal wealth by advice channels.
  • Modelling of regulatory/tax changes for use in public policy submission and strategic insight.