Newly appointed NGS CEO Natalie Previtera talks to Newsmonth about all things superannuation related

When was NGS established and why is it important that unions and employers work together to ensure dignified retirements?

NGS Super was established 35 years ago, in 1988, to provide super to teachers in non-government schools and employees in community organisations. From humble beginnings, we’ve grown to a fund that supports 115,000 members, 17,000 employers and manages $14billion in funds under management.

As an industry super fund, we’re run only to benefit members. All our profits go back to our members — everything we do is about helping our members prepare for their tomorrow and the retirement that lies ahead.

Most of us look forward to a retirement where we have the time to relax, pursue hobbies and interests or travel. But a comfortable retirement doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Building super throughout your work life is important. I always encourage people to understand and learn about their super, so they feel confident that when they get to retirement it will be the one they dreamed of.

This is where employers, unions and super funds can work together. Building strong relationships that give employees access to specialists who can help them when they have questions, and to education and resources that make it easier for them to make decisions. That personalised service and support which we’re proud to offer at NGS is invaluable in getting the right start with super – which leads to better outcomes in retirement.

What are the key features of NGS that set it apart from other funds?

With 35 years’ experience supporting the education sector, NGS has a deep understanding of the unique circumstances and needs of teachers. This underpins our commitment to offer products and services that deliver value to members.

It’s important to us to offer low fees, award winning insurance and strong long-term performance. We’re also proud to support our members with personalised service through our super specialists who are available online or over the phone or through face-to-face sessions. We try to make it as easy as possible for people to get the help and support they need around their super, in the way and time that suits them best.

Our focus on sustainability is another thing that sets us apart from other funds. Two years ago, we set the ambitious target to transition to a carbon-neutral portfolio by 2030 – 20 years ahead of most other funds. We believe this is the best action to take for our members and for our planet. And we’re tracking well. We’ve just released an update which shows the carbon intensity in the NGS Diversified MySuper portfolio has fallen by around 20% which is 13% ahead of trajectory.

Why is it important to reach a carbon neutral position by 2030 and in a practical sense how will this be achieved?

As a fund we decided that we couldn’t ignore the science that was telling us that climate change was, and continues to have an impact socially, environmentally, and economically. We see our target to have a carbon neutral portfolio by 2030 as making sense for both our members and the planet.

To achieve our goal, we’re applying the principles of responsible investing which means we identify investments that will retain their value and generate strong returns now and into the future. This is how we’re making progress against our target and protecting members’ returns.

In addition to aligning with companies who share our goals, we are moving away from those that don’t. Last year we divested holdings in Woodside and Santos and others in the oil and gas exploration and production industry.

We regularly review our carbon neutral targets and investment strategies to make sure they are in the best financial interests of our members. This is always our priority.

The recent cyber security issue was a challenge for those impacted. Please comment on the incident and the steps taken to mitigate such events in the future.

We appreciate that the cyber attack was a difficult situation for our members.

We take the security of our members’ data very seriously and as soon as we became aware of unusual activity within our network, we shut it down and commenced investigations. We also launched comprehensive cybersecurity protocols and enhanced network monitoring.

Our investigations quickly confirmed that our members’ super savings and the Fund’s assets were secure, however some limited personal data was taken.

We communicated with members about the cyber attack and made sure that they were aware of the support available to protect their information through organisations like IDCARE, Equifax and Experian.

We reported to regulators and were in constant contact with the ATO regarding protective measures that were put in place on member accounts. These have now been lifted for all but a small number of members. We also reimbursed costs to members who were required to replace documents.

Our members can be assured that we remain highly alert and continue to monitor our systems for any signs of suspicious activity.