As we approach the end of 2019 the industry’s attention is focused on the review of the retirement income system, APRA’s ‘heatmaps’ and ASIC’s long-awaited reforms to fee and cost disclosure. The last month has seen developments in relation to all of these, plus a host of other important updates and consultations from the regulators.

The Retirement Income Review

Following the announcement of the Retirement Income Review by the Treasurer in September, the Government has released a consultation paper confirming the broad nature of the review.

The terms of reference note that the review will establish a fact base regarding the current retirement income system that will improve understanding of its operation and the outcomes it is delivering for Australians. The review will identify:

  • how the retirement income system supports Australians in retirement;
  • the role of each pillar in supporting Australians through retirement;
  • distributional impacts across the population and over time; and
  • the impact of current policy settings on public finances.

The paper outlines some of the issues the review panel will consider and includes a number of consultation questions across a number of themes. These include the purpose of the system and the role of each of its pillars (the means tested Age Pension, compulsory superannuation and voluntary savings) and the impact of demographic, labour market and home ownership trends on the system. The paper also sets out a number of proposed principles for assessing the system – adequacy, equity, sustainability and cohesion.

Submissions close on 3 February and the review is due to report to the Government by June 2020.

APRA heatmaps

Heatmaps: APRA speech and methodology

APRA has released an information paper on its forthcoming MySuper product heatmap.

The heatmap will comprise a set of metrics for every MySuper product:

  • investment performance metrics for three and five-year time horizons, including for each stage of lifecycle products
  • fee metrics for a range of representative member balances, including for administration fees and for total fees
  • sustainability metrics, which will focus on the registrable superannuation entity (RSE) level and include the number of member accounts and net cash flow.

The information paper includes the methodology for each metric, and the method by which metric outcomes for each product will be benchmarked. For each product, metric outcomes will be coloured to show how outcomes compare with outcomes for peers or against benchmarks. APRA has made available a version of the heatmap using mock data to illustrate how to interpret the graduated colour scheme.

APRA is expected to publish the full product heatmap by mid-December. APRA Deputy Chair, Helen Rowell, gave a detailed speech on the heatmap at the 2019 ASFA Conference.

Fee and cost disclosure: ASIC updates RG 97

After a long-running review, ASIC has finalised its fee and cost disclosure requirements for superannuation funds and managed investment schemes, with the release of a package of materials including:

The main changes to fees and costs disclosure include:

  • a re-grouping of values in the re-named ‘fees and costs summary’ to show fees and costs that are ongoing and those that are member-activity based more clearly
  • a simplification of ongoing fees and costs into three groups – administrative, investment and transaction
  • the incorporation of a single ‘cost of product’ figure in PDSs
  • simplifying how fees and costs are presented in periodic statements.

The new disclosure requirements in updated RG 97 will apply to all PDSs issued on or after 30 September 2020. Periodic and exit statements with reporting periods commencing from 1 July 2021 must comply with the new requirements, however, an early opt-in is available for reporting periods commencing from 1 July 2020. The existing requirements under ASIC Class Order 14/1252 and the transitional version of RG 97 will continue to apply until the end of the transition period.

Separately, ASIC will undertake focused work on fees and costs disclosure on platform arrangements in 2020 and will work with industry bodies to clarify how financial advisers should use fees and costs information when giving advice.

ASIC has indicated it will monitor fees and costs disclosure going forward and consider taking action where it finds misconduct.

More updates from APRA

Member outcomes: APRA guidance on business performance reviews

APRA has finalised Prudential practice guide SPG 516 Business Performance Review. This new guidance provides guidance on undertaking APRA’s new requirements for an annual Business Performance Review under Prudential Standard SPS 515 Strategic Planning and Member Outcomes (SPS 515), and also the new legislated member outcomes assessment.

SPS 515, and the guidance issued to support it—new SPG 516 and SPG 515 Strategic and Business Planning—are intended to facilitate RSE licensees’ rigorous assessment of their performance and the outcomes they deliver to members, as well as helping them identify areas needing improvement. SPS 515, SPG 515 and SPG 516 all commence on 1 January 2020.

Insurance in super

APRA has released for consultation its proposed revisions to prudential standard SPS 250 Insurance in Superannuation which aim to improve member outcomes by helping trustees to select the most appropriate policies for members, and to monitor their ongoing relationship with insurers. These changes are in response to APRA’s post-implementation review of the superannuation prudential framework and recommendations from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

The changes principally require:

  • a process that enables beneficiaries to easily opt-out of insurance cover
  • that the level and type of insurance cover not inappropriately erode the retirement income of beneficiaries
  • that any status attributed to a beneficiary in connection with the provision of insurance is fair and reasonable
  • independent certification that insurance arrangements involving a related party insurer are in the best interests of beneficiaries.

APRA proposes that certain transitional requirements will commence on the date of registration of the revised SPS 250 (anticipated to be in July 2020), with the remaining requirements to commence on 1 January 2021. Submissions are due by 3 February.

Putting Members’ Interests First

APRA has released a letter to RSE Licensees and Frequently Asked Questions to clarify the application of the recent Putting Members’ Interests First (PMIF) reforms.

APRA understands the Government will seek to amend the SIS Act to provide that:

  • the legislative requirements allow for the aggregation of a member’s interest in one or more products held within a superannuation account
  • the rights of members under fixed term insurance cover are not affected, so that this type of insurance cover is not removed
  • a member’s election to maintain insurance cover under the Protecting Your Super Package reforms is considered to be a valid election under the PMIF reforms, and vice versa.

APRA’s letter to RSE licensees also provides guidance for trustees wishing to make an election to maintain or take out insurance on an opt-out basis for members employed in a ‘dangerous occupation’ and how to withdraw that election.

Data collection changes

APRA has launched a project to upgrade the breadth, depth and quality of its superannuation data collection. The scope, objectives and approach of the project are outlined in a new discussion paper, which explains that APRA will consult on its proposals in three phases:

  • Phase 1 (Breadth) will address the most urgent gaps in APRA’s data collection, particularly for choice products and investment options
  • Phase 2 (Depth) will increase the granularity of the entire collection, taking advantage of APRA’s new data collection solution and enhanced data analytic capabilities
  • Phase 3 (Quality) will assess the quality and consistency of the additional data reported during Phases 1 and 2, and review and address any implementation issues.

Each phase will involve the release of multiple topic papers, each covering a different aspect of the consultation. APRA has released Topic Paper 1 (RSE Structure and Profile) as part of phase 1, with submissions closing on 17 January.

APRA has also issued an update on the implementation of its new data collection solution, to replace the current Direct to APRA system, acknowledging that the migration of all existing data collections to the new system may create significant burden for some entities. APRA is currently exploring alternative implementation approaches for the new data collection solution and will confirm its implementation approach and revised timeline in early 2020.

Governance, culture and accountability:

APRA has issued a new information paper, Transforming governance, culture, remuneration and accountability: APRA’s approach, outlining its plans to scale up significantly its efforts to lift standards of governance, culture, remuneration and accountability (GCRA) across its regulated industries, including superannuation.

More updates from ASIC

Complaints handling: update on ASIC consultation

ASIC has indicated to ASFA that it now intends to publish an updated version of its complaints handling regulatory guide in February 2020, rather than December 2019 as previously advised.

ASIC has been consulting on substantial proposed reforms to Regulatory Guide 165, its complaints handling standards for its regulated entities, including superannuation fund trustees.

ASIC has now advised that the release of RG 165 and the associated legislative instrument will now be postponed until February, to allow more time to consider and resolve some of the more complex issues raised during the consultation process. ASIC has also indicated that:

  • the transitional timeframes for the updated RG 165 requirements will be “significantly longer” than those originally outlined and ASIC does “not propose that any of the updated requirements will come into force on the day that RG 165 is published”
  • requirements relating to internal dispute resolution data recording and reporting will not be included in the updated RG 165 to be published in February but will be the subject of further consultation in the first half of 2020.

Whistleblower policies: ASIC guidance

ASIC has published Regulatory Guide 270 Whistleblower policies (RG 270) to assist public and proprietary companies, including trustees of RSEs, meet their obligation to have a whistleblower policy.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 amended the Corporations Act 2001 to apply a single, strengthened whistleblower protection regime to the corporate, financial and credit sectors – including superannuation funds. Under the reforms, public companies, large proprietary companies, and proprietary companies that are trustees of RSEs must have a whistleblower policy available to their officers and employees by 1 January 2020.

New Bills and regulations

The Government has introduced into Parliament three new Bills with relevance to superannuation:

The Government has also registered the Treasury Laws Amendment (Ending Grandfathered Conflicted Remuneration) Regulations 2019. These support amendments in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Ending Grandfathered Conflicted Remuneration) Act 2019 requiring financial advisers to move away from grandfathered conflicted remuneration arrangements.

New parliamentary committee inquiries

Parliament has commenced two new committee inquiries relevant to superannuation.

The newly established Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology will inquire and report on a range of matters, including the extension of the consumer data right to financial sectors such as superannuation. The deadline for submissions to the inquiry is 31 December and the Committee is to present its final report on or before the Senate’s first sitting day in October 2020.

The Senate Economics References Committee will examine the causes, extent and effects of unlawful non-payment or underpayment of employees’ remuneration by employers, and measures that can be taken to address the issue. The terms of reference for this inquiry specifically raise questions around the cost of wage and superannuation theft to the national economy and the best means of identifying and uncovering wage and superannuation theft. The Committee is to report to the Senate in June 2020 and is seeking submissions by 14 February.