Equisoft set to accelerate uptake of digital superannuation in Australia

Equisoft is a global provider of insurance and wealth management software solutions. Headquartered in Montreal, the company overcame the challenges presented by COVID-19 and set up a 10-person office in Sydney in late 2020.

The new on-the-ground team is central to growing the company’s footprint in Australia and capitalising on opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

In this case study, Vice President of Equisoft EMEA & APAC, Simon Richardson, explains why Australia resonates as a focal point for the company’s digital solutions, including:

  • why an Australian office was the next logical step in Equisoft’s global expansion
  • opportunities for technology transformation in Australia’s superannuation industry
  • how Austrade helped the company move into the market at speed.

‘The more we started to look into Australia, the more we noticed the similarities to other regions that we operate in, in terms of the regulatory environment, the culture and the business climate,’ says Richardson.

Australia provides entry point to Asia-Pacific region

Richardson says the main things that attracted Equisoft to Australia were the parallels in the insurance regulations to Canada and South Africa, and the strong cultural alignment.

‘That cultural aspect is sometimes overlooked,’ he says. ‘But it helped us to do the business development effectively and understand quickly how to staff up the team. It made it relatively easy for us to establish an Australian entity.

‘Having a permanent presence in Australia just made sense,’ he says. ‘We are increasingly being presented with business opportunities there, and in Asia-Pacific. Australia is a springboard for us into the region. Our Australian team members are already working with our other global centres on supporting prospective clients in Fiji, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia.’

A resilient banking, insurance and pension funds market

Australia has a mature, highly competitive insurance industry. Australian banks are among the top 20 globally. The country’s US$2 trillion superannuation (pension) market is one of the largest in the world.

‘We dipped our toes into the Australian market when our partner Oracle Insurance was engaged by Westpac for their superannuation business,’ says Richardson. ‘We helped Oracle with the delivery and realised what a great environment it was to be in.’

Equisoft’s end-to-end solution includes customer relationship management, claims, policy administration, agency management, planning and forecasting, e-applications and signatures, and compliance. It is used by over 75 of the world’s leading financial institutions.

In Australia, the company is exploring opportunities with a number of financial services organisations.

The future is digital for superannuation

Superannuation funds around the world are looking to adopt data management and administration systems that easily integrate with new digital technology, and leverage data analytics to personalise services. Richardson believes Equisoft has the clarity of mission and capability to support those objectives.

‘We are focusing our business development efforts on Australia’s superannuation, insurance and wealth management sectors,’ he says. ‘We have a set of digital products built up over the years that we can deploy with relatively little customisation.

‘Our first large-scale project in Australia, with ClearView, is for risk or protection products associated with superannuation, made available as an end-to-end Software as a Service (SaaS) capability. I see a lot of follow-up opportunities, particularly with our SaaS model, where clients want no-fuss access to capabilities.’

In Australia, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) supervises institutions across banking, insurance and superannuation. It is responsible for protecting the interests of depositors, insurance policyholders and superannuation fund members.

‘It’s imperative to recognise the role APRA plays in influencing business decisions and business cases,’ says Richardson. ‘While the rules around superannuation in Australia are different, they are similar enough to the other regions we do business in, to be able to easily adapt our solutions and apply our expertise.’

Access to a tech-savvy talent pool

Australia’s reputation for producing top tech talent rang true for the company.

‘There is definitely a depth of IT expertise in Australia,’ says Richardson. ‘It became very apparent very quickly that the sort of premium skills we needed to deliver our products were readily available. We chose Sydney because it offered us a highly skilled tech sector, a culture of innovation, and access to expert partners and services.

‘For us, the value of setting up in Australia, is Australia itself,’ he says. ‘From an Equisoft perspective, we are presenting a global presence; we’re covering the different corners of the world. Being in Australia adds credibility to our global business development efforts.’

Austrade’s market insights expedite establishment

Equisoft has been working with Austrade since 2019, gathering insights into the Australian market. Austrade has briefed the company on the banking and insurance environment, legal and taxation regulations, government incentive schemes, research and development capabilities, and visa options.

‘Austrade put us in contact with industry bodies, gave us an overview of the fintech market, where the IT hubs are, what to consider when setting up an office, and suggested conferences and business development avenues to explore,’ says Richardson. ‘That sort of advisory capability was valuable. It made the landscape familiar.’

Draw on local suppliers and their expertise

Richardson admits it was challenging to set up an office during COVID-19.

‘We are very familiar with working remotely,’ he says. ‘We have 600 staff across 5 continents, and we’ve leveraged global resources for the last 7 years. But to do everything remotely, without the option for travelling at key engagement milestones, was another level.’

That’s where local agencies proved critical.

‘In the early stages, we largely relied on recruitment agents and flexible contractor arrangements to get the entity set up and stablised,’ says Richardson. ‘We would have been putting ourselves under immense pressure trying to sort out superannuation providers, payroll providers, and related structures from the outset. They gave us detailed advice on pay rates, what we should be offering, local terminology around particular roles, and profiled the people we needed to attract.

‘My advice to anyone expanding into the market is not to go it alone as you build your team. It’s a lesson I’ve learned by heart. You cannot afford to choose the wrong team members, especially when starting up in a new country.’

About Austrade

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s international trade promotion and investment attraction agency.

We deliver quality trade and investment services to businesses to grow Australia’s prosperity. We do this by generating and providing market information and insights, promoting Australian capability, and facilitating connections through our extensive global network.

To discover how we can help you and your business, visit austrade.gov.au or contact us on 13 28 78 (within Australia).