“Superannuation started out as a cause for good”: This Aussie fintech is out to upend the traditional super sector

Superhero

Superhero co-founders John Winters and Wayne Baskin. Source: supplied.

Aussie share-trading startup Superhero is set to launch a new superannuation offering, in a bid to empower consumers and shed some light on an opaque industry.

Founded by John Winters and Wayne Baskin, who is also chief technology officer at newly public company Booktopia, Superhero has been under concentration for the best part of three years.

But, it only came into the market in September, with the launch coinciding with an $8 million funding round.

Backers include Aussie fintech royalty, with Afterpay co-chief Nick Molnar and Zip’s Larry Diamond among early investors.

The initial goal was to onboard 10,000 people onto the Superhero trading platform within the first 12 months, Winters tells SmartCompany.

That milestone was hit within three weeks, and by November, the number of customers had doubled again.

But, this business was always intended to be a super fund, “hence the name”, Winters says.

Until early this year, that’s what the founders were building.

It was when COVID-19 hit, when APRA put a pause on new super and banking licences, and when their funding started to dry up, that they decided to use the tech they had to build an investment platform instead.

“The trading platform was the pivot,” Winters says.

“Now we’re going back to the future.”

The team is now going through the final process to get the superannuation licence approved, and Winters expects to launch the product early next year.

Shaking up super

Winters is out to upend the ‘traditional’ superannuation space, giving consumers more transparency and more control over where their money is going.

The product will offer users two account options, an ‘autopilot’ account or a ‘control’ account.

The former allows them to choose a core portfolio to invest their money into — that could be focused on US tech ETFs, for example, or ethical and sustainable investments.

It’s not “a black-box managed fund”, the founder explains.

“You choose the investments and you can see how the investments are going, because you own the ETF.”

The second option allows consumers almost complete control over where their money goes.

A minimum of 25% must be allocated to the core balanced portfolio, to ensure a certain level of diversification. And, there are limits over how much can be invested into one company or sector, to ensure people built responsible portfolios.

But, it’s designed to give users the control they would have in a self-managed super fund, without having to have the advised $500,000 to do it.

“Superannuation started out as a cause for good,” Winters explains.

“I don’t know if that’s how it’s structured today.”

There’s limited disclosure around investments or even fees, he adds. Superhero is about casting a light on this space, allowing people to play an active role in their own super, and being empowered to do so.

“We’ve been led to believe that old men in suits behind closed doors are the adults, and we’re the kids, and they are the ones who should be managing our super,” he explains.

“There’s multiple trillions of dollars outside of super that we all manage every day.”

People are responsible for buying houses, paying their own rent, making purchases, managing their budgets and investing in shares. But, when it comes to superannuation we default to handing that power over.

“That’s what we want to change. We want to make super tangible.”

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