When it came to providing superannuation for the workers of a business, Australia was ahead of the rest of the world. It is not surprising that it was two companies in the finance sector that established super funds for employees. The first was the Bank of New South Wales, which established its fund in 1862. Coming in second was AMP, which established a fund for its staff in 1869.
In 1874 the Grand Trunk Railroad paid pensions to management but required the employees to defer part of their salary as a contribution, which is not that much different to Australia’s superannuation system that had workers forgo pay increases in lieu of compulsory employer contributions.
It was not until 1900 that the first modern superannuation fund was established in the US by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Employees did not make contributions to the scheme but, at a time when the average white male at 20 had a life expectancy of just over 62, the mandatory retirement age was 70. This pension scheme proved to be the model for pension funds that followed, including the US Steel Corporation pension fund set up for its employees in 1911.