Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp


blog If you have even a skin deep awareness of the structure of Australia’s superannuation industry, you’ll be aware that much of the underlying infrastructure used by many of the nation’s major funds — AustralianSuper, CBus, HESTA and more — is provided by a centralised group, Superpartners. One of the group’s main projects in recent years has been to dramatically update and modernise its IT platform — its version of a core banking platform overhaul. Unfortunately, as was revealed in November, the $250 million project has not precisely been going well, and the Financial Review last week reported that Superpartners is actually close to turfing it altogether and going back to the drawing board. The newspaper reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“A spokesman for AustralianSuper told The Australian Financial Review the fund, and the other four shareholder funds, had ordered the spRIGHT program be suspended while a detailed assessment of alternate options was conducted.”

I’m not surprised by the problems which Superpartners is facing with the project. It’s been veering off the rails for quite a while now, and I never got the sense that the superannuation funds were taking this upgrade as seriously as they needed to. It sounds like things have now hit emergency status and the whole shebang is up in the air again.

This is yet another reminder that, essentially, financial services companies of any stripe are actually fundamentally technology vendors which provide digital platforms for the rest of us to manage our money. It is essential that such companies keep their technology platforms up to date and not allow them to slip years (or even decades) behind. Because the result of doing so will be these kind of massive and highly risky IT projects down the track … projects which have a disturbing history of failing. Let’s hope Superpartners can get things back on track with a sustained amount of effort.