Employees’ choice of superannuation plan : effects of risk transfer costs

Brown, Kerry A., Gallery, Gerry T., & Gallery, Natalie (2004) Employees’ choice of superannuation plan : effects of risk transfer costs. Journal of Industrial Relations, 46(1), pp. 1-20.

View at publisher


Consistent with a worldwide trend away from defined benefits towards accumulation benefits, many Australian employers who traditionally offered their workers defined superannuation benefits are closing their defined benefit plans to new members and/or offering existing members the option of transferring to an accumulation plan. There has also been a push to allow members greater choice in terms of both funds and investments. Against this background, the Superannuation Scheme for Australian Universities (SSAU) made an offer to its members in 1998 to transfer from the defined benefit section to an accumulation-style plan. Their position was that the choice of fund for employees should be a matter for the employer and the employees at the workplace or their respective representative organizations. At the conclusion of the offer period only one-third of SSAU members had elected to transfer to the Investment Choice Plan (ICP). This study seeks to explain why the majority of SSAU members chose to remain in the defined benefit plan when offered the option of transferring to the accumulation-style ICP. We propose that ‘risk transfer costs’ explain the low ICP acceptance rate. Research findings show that both those who chose to stay in the DBP and those who elected to transfer to the ICP were prepared to accept tradeoffs in their choice. DBP members were prepared to forego a higher quantum of expected benefits for greater security of benefits expected in the DBP, whereas the ICP members were prepared to forego such security and accepted higher investment risk in return for a higher expected quantum and greater control over their benefits. Differences in financial proficiency and differences across academic disciplines confirm that risk transfer costs were a key reason for the majority of SSAU members rejecting the ICP choice. Important implications arising from this study include the need for greater transparency of the risk transfer costs involved in offers of benefit structure change, such as that offered by the SSAU, and the need to incorporate compensation for such costs into the offer. Cognizance also needs to be taken of the major risk transfer cost of becoming informed about superannuation and the consequences of such costs for the Government’s intentions to mandate superannuation fund choice for all Australian workers.

Impact and interest:

0 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

769 since deposited on 15 Aug 2006
190 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 4810
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Superannuation, Transfer Costs, Choice
DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-1856.2004.00132.x
ISSN: 1472-9296
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BANKING FINANCE AND INVESTMENT (150200) > Finance (150201)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Sage Publications
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 15 Aug 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 14:38

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page