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A new national chapter for Saver Plus

“We are not born being able to drive a car or cook a meal. We learn how to do these things. So why do we often skip this most important skill of teaching people how to build a nest egg?”

The original ANZ Frankston team when Saver Plus Launched in 2003

It’s a habit that has saved Australians $28 million over two decades. And it’s about to get even bigger.


Developed by ANZ and Brotherhood of St. Laurence, the Saver Plus program expanded from 60 sites to become a national program from July 1.


The program, which is the world’s largest and longest-running matched savings and financial education program, will now be delivered through online learning.


What is Saver Plus?


It’s a program that improves financial wellbeing by taking participants through ten hours of MoneyMinded financial literacy education over ten months and helping them to develop a regular savings habit.


Eligible participants who complete the program have their savings matched – up to $500 – by ANZ for education-related expenses for themselves or their children.


We know developing a savings habit is a great indicator of long-term financial wellbeing.


To put it another way, we are not born being able to drive a car or cook a meal. We learn how to do these things. So why do we often skip this most important skill of teaching people how to build a nest egg?


Over two decades Saver Plus has helped more than 57,000 people, collectively saving over $28 million dollars with ANZ providing more than $23 million in matched funds.


It is an amazing achievement which had very humble beginnings back in 2003.

ANZ developed the program together with the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, running it from the local branch in Frankston, Victoria.


Saver Plus is now delivered in partnership with the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, Berry Street and The Smith Family and is funded by ANZ and the Australian Government Department of Social Services.


Beyond the headline statistics, 87 per cent of participants maintained their savings rate, three to seven years after completing Saver Plus. And 100 per cent of participants report an increase in their personal wellbeing after completing the program.


While these results are impressive, our philosophy with Saver Plus is to continually improve it and evolve the future of the program. Were there ways to make it more efficient and reach more people?


Despite its success, it was still being delivered at only 60 sites around Australia. If you live outside of those regions, you couldn't access the program.


Extended reach


People had to travel and that excluded people with work or caring obligations, as well as people with other accessibility needs. And it was operating during business hours.


We were grappling with these issues when the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the evolution of the program. It was an opportunity to pilot some new ideas on how to increase participant engagement – like an online virtual model.


Under this plan 40 team members across the country deliver the program, plus the Saver Plus National Office. Alongside this increased reach we also boosted our aspirations for the program.


The current participation target is 3360 people a year and we are hoping to increase that target. We know based on 2021 census data about 417,000 people nationally would be eligible for the program – this is a potentially huge untapped market who could benefit from the program.


We are also proud we have had very little staff turnover through this transition. There is always a risk people get fatigued during rapid change. This is not the case with Saver Plus and, if anything, staff are excited about reaching thousands more people each year.


Ultimately, education – whether it is financial or otherwise – is a liberator for so many people. As a part of Saver Plus ANZ matches savings for education for the individual or their children or dependents.


During COVID, most people used their savings to buy a laptop or a device to help them learn remotely. Now the cash could be used to buy textbooks or something as simple as school photos, sports fees or excursions.


These activities might have been out of reach for many families, but they enrich people’s lives and support them to thrive. But like all goals, there are still challenges.


Right now, we are making sure people trust the program because it might sound too good to be true. People are wary of scams, so they are naturally on guard.


With face-to-face learning, this was easier to address. People knew who they were dealing with. It can be harder to build the same trust with an online program.


But ultimately, these are minor bumps to overcome in an incredibly important and successful program.


The question for Saver Plus is just how big it can get? We are open to exploring other options and trying new things. Just watch this space.

Saver Plus virtual pilot program


Kylie, a past participant of the Saver Plus program, recently went from a two-income family to one income. She is a single mum on parenting payments and works two jobs: one part time and one casual.  “I have one daughter, Rahni, who just turned 12 and will start school this year”, Kylie said.


“I joined the program because my daughter is starting high school next year, she’ll need new uniforms, textbooks and a laptop. Any money I can put towards these things is a bonus.”  


“[Before Saver Plus] I had a good attitude towards budgeting and was good with bills. However, not so much with saving – I didn’t always have a lot of money to save as such, but I would always prioritise and make sure my bills and things were paid before any other spending.” 


“[Through the MoneyMinded workshops] I learnt a lot about the different types of resources that are available for getting grants and things like that, I wasn’t aware of these before.” 


“Long term, I’m working towards buying a house. I’m still saving my $50 every month.”


The national launch of the Saver Plus program will help reach more people like Kylie and help them achieve financial wellbeing.


To find out more about the program click here

Brendan Lacota, Lead Social Impact Programs, Communications and Public Affairs at ANZ.

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