The Australian superannuation industry is set to lose one its greatest advocates to the UK with Fiona Reynolds leaving the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees to head up the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment (UNPRI) in February, 2013.
Reynolds caught up with Women's Agenda this morning to chat about being an advocate for low-income households and women, her next adventure and her ideal successor.
During her five years at AIST, Reynolds has successfully lobbied the government to increase its superannuation guarantee from 9 to 12%. The Gillard government has also put in place a low-income rebate of $500 for people who earn under $37,000 a year, something Reynold's cites as one of her proudest achievements.
"One of the key focuses I've always had has been the adequacy of retirement incomes for low income people and women in particular. Too often superannuation policy is focused on the wealthy, and tax concessions for the wealthy. But in reality, the majority of Australians will retire with the pension and small savings. Our retirement policy needs to look after those people, that's what's important."
Reynolds has made it her prerogative to close the super gap between men and women, quickly citing the reasons women retire with around half the savings men do.
"Women earn less to begin with, and usually have broken work patterns throughout their career because we raise children and become carers," she says. "We retire with half the savings of a man, so it's been a real goal of mine to address that."
Her new role, as managing director of UNPRI, will put her in charge of a rapidly expanding organisation alongside existing CEO James Gifford. Since it began in 2006, one thousand companies have become members of UNPRI, committing themselves to responsible investment.
"UNPRI really revolves around institutional investors, good investors who take into account the environment, corporate governance issues and social issues," says Reynolds. "When they sign up, they agree to act in an ethical way and consider things like climate and human rights. It's going through a real growth spurt, that's why they needed more senior management, and that's why they need me."
As Reynolds prepares for her relocation to the UK, the search is on for the right person to succeed her as CEO at AIST. She hopes they can find someone with similar values, who will continue her work to support low-income families and close that super gap for women.
"I'd like that person to be a good advocate for the Not-For-Profit sector. I'd like them to be an advocate for low-income earners and make a significant change in the super industry for women.
"If we can find someone to continue my work, I'll be so pleased."