Pascale Helyar-Moray Founder and CEO Super-Rewards is a serial entrepreneur and committed gender equality advocate. Her career background in financial services gave her a unique insight into the structural impediments that led to women retiring with inadequate superannuation balances. As a Director of the Australian Gender Equality Council, Pascale gained even greater understanding of the multifaceted economic barriers that women face. This fuelled her determination to find a solution.
She launched Super-Rewards as an innovative mechanism to help women to progressively boost their superannuation balances through an activity they already perform – shopping. Shopping via Super-Rewards, women earn cash rewards that contribute directly into their superannuation balances.
What led you to start Super-Rewards?
This journey started a long time ago, but there are a few main reasons which led me to start Super-Rewards.
- Financial Education – I’ve worked for many years in financial services and saw myself writing content about compound interest and the importance of salary sacrifice. I actually practiced what I preached and managed to do salary sacrifice in my twenties and thirties. This compounded sufficiently to mean that, despite my years out of full-time work as a mother and entrepreneur, my super is still in reasonable shape. However, that’s simply not the case for most women.
- Work Experience – I saw myself over and over presenting about super and the super gap to rooms filled with women, who would then ask me, ‘Okay, but what do I DO?’ That moment of panic and fear in their eyes, as well as the realisation that they’re stuck financially (they can’t double their pay, get a second/third job, divest themselves of their caring responsibilities) – just stayed with me and really drove me to do something about it.
- Deep Insight – as Director of Communications with the Australian Gender Equality Council, I understood that the headline problem of women retiring with 58% as much super as men still hasn’t changed and simply feeds into it – gender pay gap, cost of childcare, inactivity on policy, and a culture that doesn’t value “women’s work”. So it’s ludicrous to expect that the top line problem – women don’t retire with enough – will change, if any of the inputs don’t change.
How can Australia’s current superannuation system be better structured to support women’s retirement savings?
The superannuation system was not designed for women, who represent 51% of the population. Of the 6.7 million women in Australia aged 18-64, 40% are not in the workforce, and 36% work part-time or casually.
Asking them to top up a system-designed deficit when they have access to no income is ridiculous. Equally, there are 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia – of which 1.8 million are women. They are responsible for raising children, looking after the elderly and caring for the sick. But with no income, comes no super.
If women had as much super as men, there would be another $268bn in the superannuation pool.
The super system wasn’t designed for them and this is why we’re at a real tipping point; where 40% of single women – roughly 1 in 6 – retires into poverty.
Our government has been aware of the issues facing women and their super since 2002, which is when the first submission to Parliament was made. Yet our government has only really made tweaks at the edges of the super system, rather than make the wholesale reform that is necessary. We need a government leader who is really bold and brave to take this on, and drive policy change in this regard.
What part does Super-Rewards play in boosting women’s retirement savings?
There are seven million women in Australia who could benefit from Super-Rewards. Women retire with only enough for 6 years of retirement but live another 14 years after that. The super system was simply not designed for them, or for women.
But Super-Rewards is. It’s designed by women, for women. And we’re open to any gender. Our mission is to close the super gap.
Super-Rewards is an online shopping platform where you earn cash rewards into super. The platform brands are Australia’s leading retailers – Woolworths, BWS, THE ICONIC, PetBarn, Booktopia, Country Road and others.
Super-Rewards is compatible with your existing super fund or SMSF. It’s free to join and there are no upfront charges. Super-Rewards is like a power cord for your super. There’s no change in behaviour required, as women are buying groceries, purchasing whitegoods, booking holidays anyway.
Let’s say you’re buying a $1,000 couch from Freedom via Super-Rewards, you get 3.75% cash back in super. This means you’ll be receiving $37.50 into your super account – from just one purchase. How awesome is that?
Basically the more you shop via Super-Rewards, the more you contribute to your super. Once the money is in your super fund, it starts earning compound interest, which can make a big difference over time.
The best part is that you don’t have to contribute your own hard-earned money at all, just watch it roll into your super.
How has your previous experience as a corporate marketing manager, and online jewellery entrepreneur influenced your approach to building Super-Rewards?
My corporate marketing experience really gave me multi-channel marketing experience; talking directly to consumers, to financial intermediaries, to the capital markets and shareholders. My entrepreneurial experience – both as a startup and also as advisor to startups – taught me how to work out what the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is, and how to achieve it.
The online part of my entrepreneurial journey of course schooled me in digital and disruption, as well as ecommerce. All these skills have been utilised in bringing Super-Rewards to market.
Advice for future female leaders
There has never been a better time to be a female leader. The tides of change are most definitely here, what with #MeToo and #TimesUp. Your path will not be easy, but it will certainly be easier than it was for those before you. So lean in and support other women who are trying to follow in your footsteps. We’ll all be the better for it.
And make sure that you bring the men in your circle of influence on the journey too. We can’t effect change if we only include 51% of the population.
You are the female economy. Whether you are a female consumer, business owner or a woman in the workforce, you can create gender equality by choosing female led brands.
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