Wednesday 12 October 2016
The fast-paced world of Squirrel Super: a tech company at heart
Wednesday 12 October 2016
Squirrel Super leads the SMSF market with flexibility and efficiency
Squirrel Super (part of Squirrel Limited), which started trading in May 2014, is an entirely online business, agile in nature and always seeking efficiency in its offerings to clients.
In a constantly changing superannuation landscape with its fast-paced development, Squirrel Super offers clients flexibility, efficiency and connectivity. For today’s 24/7 online world, this means rapid information exchange, and an interface where clients can access daily updates on their investment position.
“Squirrel allows you to control your own money,” says its Chief Technology Officer, Jamie Strauss. “We provide direct, up-to-the-second balances on your accounts. Our platform provides the ability to understand how much your share portfolio is worth and how much it’s changed on a day-to-day basis, which hasn’t been the traditional model.”
Traditional, paper-based superannuation fund management tended towards a six-month delay in the communication of information to clients about their accounts. Squirrel is leading the market with a connected, online super experience. “What we offer is data feed efficiency,” Strauss says.
Deeply committed to transparency, Squirrel neither pays nor receives commissions for the products in which its clients invest.
“We’re completely independent,” says Strauss. “We charge an establishment fee – the cost of setting up a self-managed super fund plus our fee – and then a flat monthly administration fee which is the same for all clients, no matter the dollar value of their portfolio.”
We can entirely remove the admin burden that people have, through technology. The API is a way for us to ease pains.
Squirrel’s home page features a pop-up live chat, where existing and potential clients can chat with a team member and learn more about how they might manage their own super investments. With this emphasis on ways that technology can efficiently deliver results for its client base, Squirrel is always on the lookout for tools to streamline its business.
The role of an open API in self-managed super funds
Open APIs are used in a variety of contexts. An open API is a publicly-available application programming interface that gives developers access to another company’s software application. The API allows for transfer of data between the interfaces.
Facebook, for example, uses its open API to allow third party software programmers to run games for Facebook users, such as Scrabble, Trivia Crack and Candy Crush Saga.
In a banking and investment context, the open API enables a variety of businesses in the financial world to share data with each other and open cash management accounts (CMAs) on-the-spot. Open API technology has streamlined processes for many users.
Squirrel’s access to open API technology gives the company the opportunity to automate a lot of work that traditionally represented significant legwork for accountants and administration staff.
When a client’s information is automated, the reams of paperwork that have transitioned into online forms are filled out at the touch of a button.
This system not only saves Squirrel time and therefore money in staffing costs, it also circumvents the inevitability of occasional human error while inputting rafts of data. And there’s a reduced risk of tampering or missing data as well. Data transfer moves in both directions, with the streamlining of opening CMAs as well as efficient transfer of financial information at tax time.
“This technology allows us business efficiency,” says Strauss. “It lets us cut down on the paperwork that has to get done every period.”
To stay competitive, rapid response is vital.
Open API offers the flexibility of a seamless connection of platforms, while operating entirely within the Squirrel interface: clients know they have a cash management account with a bank and not Squirrel itself, but their interaction with the CMA is completed through Squirrel’s software.
“Clients want to have an essentially opaque system,” Strauss explains. “They want to see Squirrel Superannuation. The technology allows our clients to access the information they want when they need it.” Squirrel designs its software products to leverage off other providers’ technology. “It’s a core part of our business,” he adds.
Using open API technology helps to keep Squirrel’s operating costs low, and these benefits are passed on to its clients. “At its core, we’re a tech company,” Strauss explains. “The way we use technology, we can build software that talks to the open API. We can entirely remove the admin burden that people have, through technology. The API is a way for us to ease pains.”
To stay competitive, rapid response is vital and by accessing open API technology, Squirrel delivers a secure connection between platforms that users can trust.
“As a business, we take care of all the boring stuff,” Strauss says. “You do the exciting stuff. You invest.” By nominating third parties to access their data, investors and advisers alike can benefit from easy information exchange.
With large volumes of Australians’ wealth tied up in their super, the future of superannuation is a multi-trillion-dollar question going forward. Increased contributions over the coming years mean that our collective super balances will grow a great deal.
So what’s next for the industry, with so many changes taking place? “As people realise that super represents a large part of their portfolio, much more specialised service providers will take advantage,” Strauss predicts. “Australians’ current super balance is $2.3 trillion. In the next 10 years it will become $3.8 trillion,” he says.
Macquarie offers ongoing flexibility to its cash management account customers via the open API. It allows Australia’s largest number of approved software vendors to integrate directly with its platform. Users can download account histories 10 years in the past within moments. Data transfer is fast and secure and users can request updates at any time of the day.
“Traditionally the super and client relationship has been a paperwork-driven process,” Strauss says. “With the advent of Macquarie’s open API, much of the clerical burden has been reduced, not only for business but for consumers as well.”
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This information is provided for the use of licensed and accredited brokers and financial advisers only. In no circumstances is it to be used by a potential client for the purposes of making a decision about a financial product or class of products.
Macquarie Group is not affiliated with any of the providers of the applications mentioned in this article and does not approve, endorse, recommend or review the applications.