Media Releases

2 August 2021

Chasing at Windmills: Latest inquiry distracts funds from delivering in best financial interests of members

Coming off the back of a year of record returns, the announcement today of another inquiry to be chaired by Tim Wilson into the superannuation sector, is clearly an act of political theatre.

The Inquiry into the implications of common ownership on Australia's legal framework and consumer harm will be the 13th comprehensive inquiry into the superannuation sector in the last decade.

Under the trope of efficiency and competition, over recent years, both Federal Government policies and consequently the regulators, have focused on encouraging scale, fund mergers and industry consolidation. Despite the paint not being dry on the “Your Future, Your Super” reforms (which commenced on 1 July) and the accompanying regulations now significantly overdue, the HOR Standing Committee is going to cast a critical eye on capital concentration – the very outcome the policies have sought to drive.

Following a year in which superannuation funds generated a median return of 18% for their members, and recapitalised Australian businesses, funds (and therefore crucially, fund members) are now going to be lumbered with the costs of replying to endless questions on notice and preparing for seemingly pointless committee hearings.

Commenting on the Inquiry Dr Martin Fahy CEO of ASFA said “as investors acting in the best financial interests of their members, superannuation funds are proactive in holding corporate Australia to account and in ensuring strong and effective governance.”

Pointing out that corporate governance experts, including Peter Drucker, have long advocated for pension funds to be engaged owners of the firms they invest in, Dr. Fahy said “this inquiry flies in the face of the international experience and appears to advocate for a bygone era in which executives were free to run the firm in their interests rather than in the wider stakeholder interests of customers, employees, and indeed the superannuants that are invested in them.”

“The last eighteen months has shown Australian superannuation funds to be highly capable in calling out inefficiency and shareholder value destruction,” Dr Fahy said.

“It would be a more efficient use of the parliament’s time to explore the regulatory impact on consumers and funds from continuous tinkering to the system and whether this constant change has created regulatory arbitrage with other parts of the system.”

For further information, please contact:
ASFA media team, 0451 949 300.

About ASFA
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. ASFA’s mission is to continuously improve the superannuation system, so all Australians can enjoy a comfortable and dignified retirement.

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