Amidst continued debate regarding the best model for superannuation fund governance, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) says that the focus should be on promoting excellence and best practice, regardless of board composition.
"While the debate up until now has largely focused on the level of independence of fund boards, what has been lost is a detailed discussion on the skills and experience required to navigate the changing nature of Australia's superannuation system and achieve positive retirement outcomes for fund members," said Ms Pauline Vamos, ASFA CEO.
Ms Vamos says that the debate should be focused on achieving three main outcomes:
- Allowing the flexibility and authority to recruit individual board members with the requisite skills, knowledge and experience
- Providing the ability to ensure that the board members can both individually and collectively think and act with independence from external relationships and focus on the best interests of fund members
- Ensuring the existence of accountability measures for the future performance of each individual as well as the whole board.
"The community benefits from the very different structures behind the various sectors across the superannuation industry. Each sector, whether it be retail, industry, corporate or government has a unique history and value proposition. As we engage with this debate we must ensure that the unique value propositions continue to be offered for the benefit of the community," said Ms Vamos
"The world today is very different to when the system was developed. Members' expectations both in products and service are significantly altered. The business of superannuation is highly complex and a greater level of skill around risk management and investment management must be utilised to deliver the desired outcomes in what is now a globally volatile environment, with a rapidly growing percentage of the population switching to de-accumulation mode," she continued.
Ultimately fund member, community and stakeholder confidence must be such that they trust the groups of individuals managing Australia's retirement income system to deliver what is needed for a comfortable retirement.
Ms Vamos says the most important considerations for appointing trustee directors should be their level of knowledge, competencies and experience as well as their ability to add to the value and performance of the whole board.
"The goal here is to ensure there is flexibility of process, widening and deepening the pool of trustees and establishing the clear ongoing accountability of individual and collective Board performance. No one size or structure fits all, as we have seen in the listed and private company space. ASFA and its members across all sectors look forward to adding insight to the debate," she concluded.
For further information, please contact:
Lisa Chikarovski, Media Manager, 0451 949 300.
ASFA is the peak policy, research and advocacy body for Australia's superannuation industry. It is a not-for-profit, sector-neutral, and non-party political national organisation, which aims is to advance effective retirement outcomes for members of funds through research, advocacy and the development of policy and industry best practice.