12th Oct, 2018
On 24 August 2018, the Royal Commission into banking, superannuation and financial services misconduct released the closing submissions, totalling over 200 pages, that set out possible contraventions by certain superannuation entities. The evidence surrounding these alleged breaches was revealed during the fifth round of public hearings, when high-level executives of some of the largest superannuation funds were grilled about practices that may involve misconduct or fall below community expectations.
The Commission heard evidence about fees-for-no-service conduct and conflicts of interests which affect the ability of some super fund trustees to ensure that they always act in the best interests of members. Questioning during the hearings focused particularly on how trustees supervise the activities of a fund and respond to queries from the regulators. Executives were also quizzed about expenditure on advertisements and sporting sponsorships, and finally, the Commission turned its attention to the effectiveness of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as regulators.
The Royal Commission’s interim report is now due, and the sixth round of public hearings (10–21 September 2018) is investigating conduct in the insurance industry. The Royal Commission has released four background papers covering life insurance, group life insurance, reforms to general and life insurance (Treasury) and features of the general and life insurance industries.
12th Sep, 2018
In a speech to the Financial Services Council Summit on 26 July 2018, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Chair James Shipton said the superannuation sector must restore the “trust deficit” and be more mindful of the responsibilities that come with being the custodians of other people’s money. Mr Shipton said the super industry has been exploiting opportunities to make money from members, citing examples of conduct that could lead to poor member outcomes, including poor advice, treatment of customers and defensiveness when it came to transparency about fund operations.
Mr Shipton said there is an urgent need for super funds to invest in systems, procedures and policies that can quickly identify emerging conduct and systemic issues. A recent ASIC review of 12 banking groups found that it took an average of four years between an issue occurring and being identified internally for investigation, before a significant breach report was finally lodged with ASIC.
12th Sep, 2018
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released its submission in response to the Productivity Commission’s draft report on superannuation efficiency and competitiveness. APRA agreed with a number of the Commission’s findings and the direction of many, but not all, of the recommendations in the draft report.
However, APRA has rejected the Commission’s claim that APRA’s powers and role, and their significant overlap with the powers and role of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), have resulted in “confusing and opaque” regulatory arrangements, poor accountability and a lack of strategic regulation. APRA Deputy Chair Helen Rowell said APRA’s role is to administer the prudential and retirement income provisions of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993. In that context, APRA is primarily responsible for ensuring that registrable superannuation entity (RSE) licensees manage their business operations to deliver quality member outcomes. By comparison, ASIC’s role is to oversee specific conduct obligations that apply to RSE licensees dealing with individuals in relation to disclosure, financial product advice and complaints.
10th May, 2018
In response to recent Senate Economics References Committee and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Enforcement Review Taskforce reports, the Federal Government has agreed to increase the civil penalties for corporate and financial misconduct (white-collar crime), for both individuals and bodies corporate. ASIC infringement notices will also be expanded to cover a broader range of financial services and managed investments infringements.
The new maximum civil penalties will be set at:
05th Sep, 2017
Under Australia’s superannuation law, super funds must disclose transparency information on a website and keep it up to date at all times.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) recently investigated and contacted 21 superannuation trustees about their failures to meet the disclosure requirements.
In response, seven trustees acted to disclose the required information, five made it easier to find the information online, trustees of two small funds sought relief from the obligations, seven trustees wound up their funds, and two improved their procedures for ensuring they kept disclosed information up to date.