The self-managed super fund (SMSF) market is reaching its maturation phase. The challenge facing participants in the market now is how to identify where new growth opportunities lie.

So how do we eke out comparative advantage, drive efficiency, retain existing customers, attract new customers, achieve greater share-of-wallet and build a great reputation in the current operating environment?

Our experience (and a ton of behavioural science research) shows us that the key is to service consumers’ underlying needs by identifying their driving motivations, the way they process information, as well as the experiences and the relationships they prefer. Critically, it’s about systematically manufacturing reliable and valuable relationships at scale – and helping consumers articulate this value. However, one size does not necessarily fit all.

A cookie-cutter approach to servicing clients is unlikely to win over the broader market. Currently, many segments in the market are feeling under serviced and ignored. This is evidenced by the disturbingly high number of trustees on the “returning tide” – finding that SMSFs aren’t all they were cracked up to be for them.

The basis of behavioural science is embracing that individuals don’t have perfect information or rationality to make decisions and they do not even have perfect self-interest (despite the contentions of classical homo economicus theory). We all suffer, in a sense, from inertia, and a fear of change. It takes strong emotive motivations to get us to shake off the status quo bias, build confidence to act, make decisions and effectively improve our situation.

Desperately seeking certainty

One of the major underlying needs investors have is for certainty. This is the fundamental problem they face: how do they make decisions today about a future that is uncertain? Curating decision-making information, doing the math and weighing up the probabilities is hard and bias-ridden – this creates a tension that needs to be resolved.