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Fully SIQ in 2016



Every quarter here at Smartgroup, we recognise the great work of team members who go above and beyond to create a better experience for our customers.

Amongst the various awards, we have the “Fully SIQ” award (named after our ASX ticker).  Team members receive awards for all sorts of amazing things that they do.  What makes this award different is that the team members must have done something that is so memorable that people would be talking about it for years to come.  Since the launch of the award following our IPO in July 2014, we’ve had five Fully SIQ stories that I would like to share with you.

Katrina Wilson, Smartsalary Team Leader, was 26 weeks pregnant and undergoing testing when she met a hospital employee who recognised Katrina from a presentation she done the year before. This employee knew she would benefit from salary packaging but as a single mum in a busy job, setting it up hadn’t been a priority.  Katrina’s tests involved some waiting around, so she used the time to help the employee understand her entitlements, organise the paperwork and submit for processing. By the time Katrina’s testing was complete, this employee’s salary packaging was set up and ready to go.

Fionna Hamilton, Field Sales Consultant, went out of her way to organise the catering for an event at St George Hospital, getting up before dawn on the morning of the event to bake 400 scones; in fact, 200 plain scones and another 200 date scones! As you can imagine, the staff at St George were impressed with the freshness and home-baked quality, and no doubt left feeling pretty special that someone would go to such lengths for them.

Harish Dahal, Infrastructure Engineer, had spent hours going back and forth with Leasing Consultant, Carlee Jones working to solve persistent issues with Carlee’s phone and computer.  Even though it was late in the afternoon, Harish knew the best way forward was to pay Carlee a visit almost 200km away. So Harish hopped in his car and drove from Sydney head office to Newcastle to solve Carlee’s technical issues once and for all!

Michael Bell, Mobile Leasing Team Leader.  After severe storms had delayed new car deliveries in Queensland, one of our customers was not going to receive his car in time for a wedding and family reunion. So Michael went the extra mile (or 1000!) and took the initiative to fly from his home in Townsville down to the car dealer in Brisbane to pick up the car and drove it back up to his customer in Rockhampton.  Of course, he also cleaned and refuelled the car along the way!

Peter Arthur, Salary Packaging Consultant, was stopped for a random breath test (which he passed of course!).  Not only did he get to chatting with the officer about novated leasing, but he went back to the police station to chat with the officer’s colleagues about their novated leasing options, too.  Talk about making the most out of a situation!

They may be outside the norm, but each of these acts demonstrates the calibre of our employees and their commitment to customer service, and I certainly am immensely proud and appreciative!

So congrats Katrina, Harish and Fionna, Michael and Peter. You are all indeed Fully SIQ

Smartsalary bags 2 national customer service awards


2016 has been Smartgroup’s most highly awarded year to date with a total of four awards (two for innovation and two for customer service). I’m pleased to share our two most recent awards, both for excellence in customer service.

Best Contact Centre in Australia 50 – 149 FTE
In its annual awards, Auscontact Association assesses an organisation’s commitment, leadership and innovation in delivering exceptional customer service.  In 2016, Smartsalary’s customer service team was awarded the highest honour in their category, being named the Best Call Centre nationally with between 50 and 149 full-time employees.

Part of our submission was a video that we had great fun putting together. Check it out here.

Service Champion – Medium Business
With an aggregate score of 8.58 out of 10, Smartsalary achieved the highest score ever awarded in the 19-year history of the Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA). You can imagine how proud we are of our hard working team.

Areas of strength highlighted by the CSIA include:

  • Company strategy
  • Innovation and transformation
  • Customer service initiatives.

On the back of this great work, we were recognised with the CSIA National Service Champion Award in the medium business category.

I’d like to extend a hearty thanks and congratulations to the team here at Smartgroup who go above and beyond to achieve great outcomes for our customers, and to our customers whose ongoing support and incredible loyalty enable us to continue to improve our service and grow our business.

2016/17 Budget: changes to super contributions the largest impact for salary packaging customers

By David Lilja, Group Remuneration Services Manager, Smartgroup

David LiljaThe Australian Federal Budget was handed down on Tuesday, May 3; the first for the Turnbull-led Coalition Government, and on the eve of the much-anticipated 2 July election announcement.

From a salary packaging point of view, the budget does not offer any significant changes or challenges. Unlike budgets from previous years, salary packaging rules were left relatively untouched so all current salary packaging items will remain available.

The only notable impact on salary packaging is the proposed reduction to annual concessional (pre-tax) superannuation contribution caps. These caps are currently set at $30,000 per year for those aged 49 or under as at 30 June 2016 and $35,000 for those aged 50 or over as at 30 June 2016. From 1 July 2017, the government proposes to replace these with a single cap of $25,000 per year and remove the age restriction so that it applies to everyone. You should note that your employer’s Super Guarantee contributions count towards this cap.

The knock-on effect will be a decrease in the amount employees can contribute to super from pre-tax income.

A further proposal which impacts higher income earners is the reduction of the threshold for the 30% superannuation contribution tax from $300,000 to $250,000, effective 1 July 2017. Currently, those with an adjusted taxable income of less than $300,000 have a 15% superannuation contribution tax.

The Government also affirmed its decision to remove the 2% Budget Repair Levy from 1 July 2017, which will benefit those with an adjusted taxable income greater than $180,000. As a result, there will be an impact on Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) and, by default, salary packaging.

Currently, the Budget Repair Levy is factored and included in the FBT Type 1 and Type 2 gross-up rates, as well as the FBT rate. From 1 April 2017, these rates will be reduced to reflect the removal of the levy.

While this will have no effect on the $9,010 and $15,900 cap benefit thresholds currently received by PBI and hospital employees, it will have a positive impact on the combined meal/accommodation cap introduced earlier this year, increasing the net benefit value from $2,550 to $2,650. Details will be communicated to affected customers closer to implementation, which is expected to be 1 April 2017.

The positive news continues with changes announced to the 32.5% marginal tax rate which is geared to benefit “average Australians.” The income tax threshold margin will rise from $80,001 to $87,000, and Opposition leader, Bill Shorten had indicated Labor will not oppose this change, which is set to take effect on 1 July 2016.

Overall the budget has not been detrimental to Australian salary packaging arrangements, nor has it required any significant change to packaging systems or procedures.

This means that Smartsalary will continue to focus on the delivery of simple, safe and valuable benefits without disruption for the foreseeable future.

Smartgroup retains highly-engaged employer status

Since 2009, Smartgroup has participated in Aon Hewitt’s Best Employer program, which measures the engagement of our workforce and identifies areas of strength in our people practices and where improvement is needed.

I’m pleased to report that, for the fifth year running, Smartgroup ranks among the most highly engaged organisations in Australia and New Zealand.

HBE-graph-2016-high-engagement-area (2)

As you can see from the table above, Aon Hewitt’s research shows that organisations with engagement scores above 65% are considered to be highly engaged. In people terms, this means two out of three employees feel energised and engaged with their work, and this correlates directly to the satisfaction and loyalty of our customers. So you can understand why this is such an important metric for us.

The analysis of our 2016 survey showed our employees feel:

  • Smartgroup has a high-performance culture, higher than ever before
  • Frontline and functional managers are now more highly engaged than ever before
  • New starters are now more engaged than ever before
  • Team members have a high level of confidence in their direct line manager.

The standout result was in the area of frontline managerial support. Developing our frontline managers has been a key focus, and the result speaks to the positive impact they’re having on the business.

Just as the analysis identified where we’re performing well, we also learned where we need to focus in the coming year to retain our status as a highly engaged employer. We’ve made significant operational changes in the last two years so, as disappointing as it is, the dip in our score is not entirely unexpected.

The work to curb this downward trend is underway, and the Executive Management Team and I recognise we must redouble our efforts and better engage with the rest of the business if we’re to maintain and, indeed, improve our engagement scores going forward.

Finally, I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone at Smartgroup for your energy, effort, and commitment to being the best that we can be.

Meet our CEOs: John Day, Smartequity

December 2015 was both busy and exciting as we welcomed two new businesses – Health-e Workforce Solutions and Advantage Salary Packaging – into the Smartgroup family. Then in January, we brought CEO John Day and his business, Smartequity (previously Trinity Management Group) into the Smartgroup fold, and another exciting chapter has begun.

Thanks to John and his team, Smartgroup has extended its suite of services to include employee equity plan administration.

I first met John 15 years ago and was impressed with his deep knowledge of the share plan sector. We’re only just getting to know the rest of John’s team, and it helps us to understand better how Smartequity has become a success.  We’re excited at the engagement of the Smartequity team, and it’s been a real pleasure to get to know them.

john 1 John Day, CEO, Smartequity
Initially, it was my respect for Deven that attracted me to Smartgroup. I have known Deven for a very long time since he first started with Smartsalary.

One can only admire how the business has grown; attracting quality executive talent to become the success Smartgroup is today. I understand the salary packaging business well; much of the FBT legislation for share plan administration and salary packaging is similar. And when FBT was first introduced, I was advising companies on remuneration planning for their senior executives.

I recently spoke at Smartgroup’s executive meeting, and I said then that having worked for myself for many years I was concerned about being part of a public company and having bosses to report to.  But as I told the gathering, I have not met a Smartgroup executive that I did not like.

What is new is the level of support from across the business, including Marketing, Legal, Accounting, IT, HR and, in particular, the Executive Management Team. All have been very easy to work with.

There is a strong culture at Smartgroup – one of mutual respect. I’m still running my company; the main thing that has changed is the ownership.

To me, it’s simple: if I perform and if Smartequity performs, I will be left alone. If I don’t, well then I can expect, let’s just say, a greater level of support!

I’m pleased to report that here at Smartequity, we are enjoying working with the Smartgroup team.

Meet our CEOs: Anton Gaudry, Advantage Salary Packaging

In my last post, I introduced Danny Rathgeber, CEO of Health-e Workforce Solutions, a business that Smartgroup invested in, back in December 2015.

Later that month, we acquired the assets of Advantage Salary Packaging and had the pleasure of welcoming Anton Gaudry and his team to the Smargroup family. I’ve known Anton for over a decade, and have long admired the way he runs his business. Advantage has a strong record of client retention, and an even stronger record of staff retention; this speaks to the remarkable culture that Anton has fostered within his organisation.  I have to say, it has been an absolute pleasure to see the high level of engagement of Anton and his team, and how well our companies are working together.


Off to the races. Anton, Jenny and Isabella Gaudry

Anton Gaudry, CEO, Advantage Salary Packaging
I have known Deven for many years. Our businesses started from very humble beginnings. Over the years, we branched out in somewhat different directions, but salary packaging was always our core.  Advantage developed strong relationships in the aged care, charity and disability services sectors. Meanwhile, Smartsalary was making its name in health and the government sectors. So, we were friendly rivals, but rarely crossed paths.  Mutual respect was common ground.

Deven and his team have always been ambitious with grand plans and in 2015, after much effort, we were able to become part of the plan and join the momentum in creating a successful and sustainable business.

We have really enjoyed our time with Smartgroup over the past three months.  It’s been a whirlwind to say the least, and a real team effort to transition our car leasing business to Smartleasing.

What has impressed me the most is the quality of the people, their enthusiasm and willingness to help. For me, stepping back into a large organisation is enjoyable.  I love the stimulus, the excitement of success and the team effort.  Equally, I am excited for my staff as doors open to opportunities and new friends.  For many staff, it’s also the first time many of them have owned shares on the ASX.  It’s great to be part of that experience.

I very much look forward to our future with Smartgroup.  While our current focus is operations, I believe in the near future we can start fully discussing opportunities and sharing ideas.  The fun has only just begun.

Meet our CEOs: Danny Rathgeber, Health-e Workforce Solutions

In the last few months, we have brought three businesses into the Smartgroup fold.

  • Health-e Workforce Solution (a workforce management business)
  • Advantage Salary Packaging (specialists in the not-for-profit sector)
  • Smartequity (formerly TMG, an equity plan administration business)

We have gotten to know each of these businesses quite well, and the closer we work with them, the more pleased we are to have formed these partnerships.

Over the next few days, I’ll be introducing you to the CEOs of these organisations, and they’ll share their experiences of bringing their respective companies and teams into the Smartgroup family.

First off, I’m pleased to introduce Danny Rathgeber, founder and CEO of Health-e Workforce Solutions (HWS). Danny has cultivated high-level relationships with hospitals around the country. We believe the service provided by HWS is unparalleled in Australia and overseas. Offering this service to our clients will enable us to not only build stronger relationships with them, but perhaps also help them to run their organisations more efficiently.

It’s been a real pleasure to better understand Danny’s business and its potential, and I look forward to bringing you more news from HWS in the future.

Danny Rathgeber, CEO

Danny Rathgeber, CEO, Health-e Workforce Solutions (HWS)
To be honest, I was not attracted to the idea of joining Smartgroup at first. It seemed to be in an entirely different space compared to HWS. But the more contact I had with Deven and the team, the more appealing the company became. The money was not as important to me as the shared goals and an attitude to achieve and make a difference in the business world.

Smartgroup is a company that has worked through the hard times and is beginning a journey of growth and success, and I would like my team and HWS to be part of this. A new world is taking shape before our eyes, remade by data, rewritten in code and growing smarter every day. HWS has innovative products that are market ready, and with the commercialisation smarts of Smartgroup, we hope to continue to grow successfully.

The first word that comes to mind when describing Smartgroup is ‘energy’; energy and an attitude that we can achieve. The Smartgroup family has been welcoming, and also generous with their time and willing to help. Though there is pressure to achieve our financial goals, the Smartgroup team has allowed us to do our business. Support is there for the asking. Smartgroup values its staff and I firmly believe the philosophies of our companies are very similar. The best products in the world can realise their real potential only when the team is committed to the journey. Smartgroup may be a successful business, but the staff is the key to its success. HWS also strives for this.

Deven Billimoria
Chief Executive Officer

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