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
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:
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.
By David Lilja, Group Remuneration Services Manager, Smartgroup
The 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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
In the last few months, we have brought three businesses into the Smartgroup fold.
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, 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.
After a rigorous tender process, Smartfleet has been appointed as one of two providers to deliver fleet management services to NSW Government.
The model adopted by NSW Government, separating fleet management from financiers, is one that Smartfleet has long advocated. In this instance, government departments will have one of two fleet administrators to choose from, then a panel of six vehicle leasing companies will bid for individual leases.
The move by the Government follows a review by PricewaterhouseCoopers of the State’s fleet operations.
According to Dominic Perrottet, the Minister for Finance, Services and Property, the big winners will be NSW taxpayers. “This government is committed to investing in the infrastructure and frontline services the state needs. The private sector thrives on competition, and under our new model these providers will drive down the Government’s costs and allow agencies to access best practice in fleet management, which means a better service for government, and better value for taxpayers.” Mr Perrottet said the new model will free up around $1 billion in capital over the next four years.
My congratulations go to the Smartfleet team and all involved in contributing to our success. We’re excited to be given this fantastic opportunity, and we’re confident that our approach and capabilities will deliver excellent service to NSW Government Departments.
We think this is quite an innovative model being employed by the Government, and we look on with interest to see if other governments will follow New South Wales’ lead.
We recently concluded our national breakfast series for 2015, where we showcased for our clients the tremendous efforts of our team. We had such a positive reception that we thought we’d share with you some of these announcements.
Aside from what we covered at the breakfasts, we achieved some significant milestones in 2015. We renewed major salary packaging contracts, including Department of Defence and Australian Tax Office, and we won additional salary packaging contracts, including Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, NSW Health Pathology, and South Eastern Sydney Local Health District.
And we ended the year with a real bang, completing the acquisition of Advantage Salary Packaging, a company we have long admired for their incredible client retention, and as we have come to learn, even more, incredible staff retention. We warmly welcome Anton Gaudry (cofounder and now CEO of Advantage Salary Packaging) and his team to the Smartgroup family.
We’ve had a terrific year, in this our first full year as an ASX-listed company (ASX: SIQ). I would like to thank everyone who has helped make it such a success: our incredibly loyal employer clients and employee customers, our innovation-minded business partners, and our supportive shareholders. I’d also like to thank the team here at Smartgroup who have continued to rise to the challenge of building a bigger and better company, year in and year out for a decade and a half now!
Best wishes for a festive holiday season to you and your families! We look forward to connecting again in the New Year.
Early this year we clocked up our 60,000th car lease; that’s the equivalent of 15 cars leased every singe day since Smartleasing began in 2004. You can’t imagine how proud that makes me feel.
We’ve never been shy about celebrating our successes so we put together a $60,000 prize pool and invited new and existing customers to stake their claim … over the next three months, everyone who took out a novated car lease was entered into the prize draw that included daily giveaways of movie tickets, coffee machines and Caltex fuel cards.
The grand prize winner was Zane Kerr from NSW Pathology, who won $20,000 in cash and prizes. Congratulations, Zane . . . as your Smartleasing consultant Glen Doyle said, he couldn’t imagine the prize going to a nicer guy!
Big thanks to our partners – Macquarie Group, Avea, MotorOne, Caltex, St George Bank and QBE – for contributing to the celebrations, and of course to the Smartleasing team who do a great job looking after our customers.
The great news is we’re doing it again for Christmas! If you’re considering a novated lease, I encourage you to get onto the Smartleasing website and request a quote. And if you go ahead and Smartlease a car this month, you’ll be in the running to win $20,000 cash, just in time for Christmas!
No doubt, an extra $20k in the bank would be a great way to celebrate the end of the year . . . so good luck!
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that everything we do here at Smartgroup is about our customers and giving them the easiest salary packaging and novated car leasing experience possible. Last week at the Australian Service Industry Awards in Melbourne, that focus and work was recognised when we picked up four awards:
As you can imagine, we’re delighted!
Smartsalary has been accredited by the Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA) since 2008 and we’ve worked to ensure we improve our score every year. After a rigorous judging process, we were awarded a score of 8.44. We were advised by the CSIA that not only is Smartsalary one of only four companies ever to achieve an aggregate score of over 8.0, but we were also advised that we received more 9+ scores for individual attributes than any company in the history of the CSIA!
We’re also thrilled to receive highly commended recognition Nationally, nipping at the heels of the very best in Australia.
Awards such as this are fantastic to receive, but only hint at the hard work that goes on across the Smartgroup network every day. The entire team is on a mission of continuous improvement – they certainly live and breathe our service mantra.
And finally, thank you to our incredibly loyal customers for providing us the motivation to work relentlessly to improve our service to you!
We’re pleased to welcome South East Sydney LHD to the Smartsalary family this month, having just completed a smooth transition for 7,000 customers. We’re now privileged to be entrusted with providing salary packaging services to more than 24,000 employees within the NSW Health network, having also welcomed NSW Health Pathology earlier this year.
The timeline below shows our growth within the NSW Health network since 2002.
(Click image to enlarge)
Thank you to our amazing staff who continue to deliver the industry’s best service. And thank you to all of our clients for continuing to put your trust in Smartsalary.
At Smartgroup we’re committed to sustainability and doing what we can for our environment, so back in 2008 we joined forces with Greenfleet and set up our carbon offset program ‘Purple meets green’.
Today, over 95% of our leasing customers offset their carbon emissions through a fortnightly donation to Greenfleet, who then plant 16 native trees per customer each year to offset their annual emissions.
This month we celebrated a milestone in our partnership as we planted our one millionth tree (that’s five times the size of Centennial Park in Sydney!) A team from our Sydney office took their volunteering day and headed to the Mt Carmel Retreat Centre to plant our latest batch of native seedlings – here’s how it went:
At Smartgroup (stock market ticker SIQ.AX), we recognise our team member’s efforts at quarterly awards breakfasts. Some of our staff go to extreme efforts to satisfy our customers, so we recently introduced the ‘Fully SIQ’ award to acknowledge team members whose story best encapsulates the Smartgroup spirit! Over the last two quarters we’ve had some fantastic nominations for the award, and I wanted to share the stories of our last two winners with you:
Michael Bell, Mobile Leasing Consultant
Back in December, our QLD customers and staff were hit by severe hail storms. As a result, there were delays with new car deliveries from dealerships. In fact, one of our customers was not going to get his car in time for a wedding and family reunion.
Michael Bell, the Smartgroup Mobile Leasing Consultant, went the extra mile and took matters into his own hands. He took the initiative to fly from his home in Townsville down to the car dealer in Brisbane to pick up the car and then drive it back up to his customer in Rockhampton. Of course, he also cleaned and refueled the car!
Michael said: “It was the right thing to do – I think that the core values of Smartgroup actually demanded this response. I met the client in Rockhampton – there was true country gratitude – I made new friends which was rewarding in itself and Smartgroup proved that what we say we do is followed through with action.”
Peter Arthur, Salary Packaging Consultant
Another great QLD story from one of our Salary Packaging Consultants Peter Arthur. Peter was on the road in Bundaberg, when he was pulled over 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 actually 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!
Peter said: “I got pulled over for a random breath test and was asked what I was up to today by the officer. I told him I was actually going to be dropping in at his police station to provide staff with some information about salary packaging. I thought it couldn’t hurt – you have to make the most of any opportunity you can get when you are on the road!”
Of course Peter would have been happier to get a few sales after his visit, though we can’t help but admire his efforts!
Simon Ellis, our Senior Tax Adviser, is taking over the blog as he does after each budget to give you a rundown of the changes relevant to salary packaging:
The Abbott Coalition Government handed down its second Federal Budget last night.
For our Federal, State and Local Government clients, as well as our Corporate, University Sector clients, and all other clients that do not have access to the Public Health and Not-For-Profit (NFP) salary sacrifice concessions, it contains no changes that will affect your arrangements with Smartsalary.
For our Public Health and NFP clients that have access to salary sacrifice concessions, the Budget contains one change of which you should be aware. Effective from 1 April 2016, the Meal Entertainment and Holiday Accommodation/Venue Hire benefits will go from each being uncapped, to being subject to a combined annual cap of $2,550.
Note: the Budget papers – and much of the media – are referring to a ‘grossed-up’ cap of $5,000. This must be translated into an actual dollar cap by ‘grossing down’ the benefit by the type 2 gross-up rate of 1.9608: i.e. $5,000 / 1.9608 = $2,550.
We appreciate that this cap will represent a reduction in the salary packaging benefits claimed by the typical Public Health and NFP employee who take up these benefits.
Smartsalary will be updating our salary packaging processes to ensure that a transition to the cap from 1 April 2016 is as seamless as possible, and that our customers will be able to continue packaging easily and efficiently in the new environment. Further details will be provided to all customers in this regard closer to that date.
We also note that last night’s budget contained one other change relevant to FBT: a slight relaxation of the exemption requirements for portable electronic devices such as laptops and tablets. However this change applies only to small business employers and it’s not yet clear whether it would even apply to salary packaging arrangements. At this point we do not expect that this change will affect the salary packaging activities of Smartsalary customers.
Since 2008 Smartsalary has been participating in the Aon Hewitt Best Employer program. This accreditation program allows us to ascertain engagement levels of our team members, and the strengths and weaknesses in our people practices.
Aon Hewitt research shows that the high engagement zone kicks in at 65%, in other words when 2 out of every 3 employees feel truly energised about their job. It is at this level of engagement that employers start to get exceptional business results. And we believe that a happy and engaged workforce is the key to ensuring that we provide the best possible customer service to you!
In 2013 and 2014 Smartsalary was an accredited Aon Hewitt Best Employer – only ten employers in Australia / New Zealand can claim this repeat accolade! For 2015, our score is 71%, which puts us well within the top quartile of engaged workplaces in the country. Aon Hewitt’s accreditation process for this year is currently underway … at this stage we don’t know whether we will make it to the 2015 Best Employer list.
From this year’s survey results, we can see that our team is particularly happy with:
There are also things we need to improve on, such as the provision of more career opportunities, a robust rewards and recognition program, and even better tools and resources for staff to utilise while at work.
We’ll keep working to improve our engagement levels . . . it’s pretty clear that this is the best way to ensure we continue to provide the best possible service to you, our valued and incredibly loyal customers!
Last year was a big one for all of us at Smartgroup, with so many milestones and achievements. As always though, our aim is to make every year bigger and better than the last.
That’s why we’re excited to kick off 2015 by announcing Jamie Whincup as Smartleasing’s official brand ambassador!
Jamie is a six-time V8 Supercars champion, and a four-time Bathurst 1000 winner. He represents the diligent, down-to-earth and friendly qualities we so firmly believe in here at Smartgroup, so we knew he would be a fantastic fit for one of our most important and popular brands. And like us, he wants to deliver the best results at all times by working closely as a team.
So is Jamie excited about working with us? Here’s what he has to say about the Smartleasing experience!
To celebrate the partnership and get our customers excited, we’re giving away a fantastic V8 and Grand Prix prize pack – check out the competition by visiting smartleasing.com.au.
At the end of every year, as has become tradition, we host a series of breakfasts for our client contacts right across Australia.
This year was no exception, and over the last few weeks it’s been fantastic to catch up with our friends from clients both old and new! Coming together is a chance for all of us to exchange ideas, recap on the last year and of course, discuss what’s coming up in 2015.
You can check out a summary of what was covered in the short video below.
We want to thank our clients for their support over the last 12 months, and we wish you all a happy and safe holiday season. Here’s to another great year in 2015!