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.
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.