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16-296MR ING Bank compensates Living Super customers due to potentially misleading costs and fees statements
ING Bank (Australia) Limited, the promoter and investment manager of the ING Direct Superannuation Fund (Living Super), will compensate around 24,500 members approximately $5.38 million following ASIC concerns that statements made in its promotional material about the fees paid in connection with its Living Super product were potentially misleading.
In particular, ASIC was concerned that ING Bank promoted Living Super, between March 2015 and September 2016, as having 'No Fees' for the 'Cash Investment Option', 'No Investment and Administration fees' for the 'Balanced Option' and having low fees options without making it clear that customers were paid a lower interest rate on the cash portion invested with ING Bank than the rate paid by ING Bank to its Saving Maximiser customers for the relevant investment options. Some of the promotions also did not indicate the "no fees or low fees" features may not continue should ING Bank no longer be the investment manager.
ASIC discussed its concerns with ING Bank that some members of Living Super may have been misled into believing they would receive the same returns on cash investments held with ING bank as ING Direct banking customers with the Savings Maximiser product.
ING Bank has acknowledged that its communication could have been clearer and is writing to all members of Living Super to inform them that the interest rates paid on Living Super may be different to the rates paid to direct banking customers and further, that the fees for Living Super may change should ING Bank no longer be the investment manager.
ING Bank have advised ASIC they will also write to affected members informing them of the compensation paid and will not retain any of the financial benefit from the lower interest rate that was applied.
ING Bank has told ASIC that it will no longer be promoting Living Super based on No Fees or No Investment and Administration Fee. It has made changes to its internal policies and procedures to help ensure that similar potentially misleading promotions are not undertaken.
ASIC also expressed disappointment that ING Bank was promoting Living Super using product inducements to clients separate from the superannuation product such as cash payments. ASIC observes that promotions of this type are a bad practice that may encourage decisions to be made on the basis of short term considerations that may not reflect the needs of a member. ING Bank has advised ASIC that it will stop offering separate product inducements in relation to Living Super.
ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said, 'This action reflects ASIC's ongoing focus on the disclosure of fees and costs in superannuation.
'Consumers need to be able to make informed decisions about their superannuation and managed investments, based on accurate and consistent fees and costs disclosure.
'Promotion of superannuation products based on low or no fees can be very influential on consumers. This makes it very important to ensure any such promotion is not potentially misleading by reducing the benefits consumers receive in exchange for the no fees or low fees features', Mr Tanzer said.
Affected members will not have to do anything to be paid this compensation. Living Super members with queries or concerns about this matter should contact ING Bank on 1800 063 965.
ASIC acknowledges the cooperative approach taken by ING Bank and Diversa Trustees Limited (the trustee of Living Super) in relation to the matter.
ASIC's concerns were identified as part of its continued focus on fees and costs disclosure (refer: 15-350MR ASIC updates guidance for fee and cost disclosure requirements for superannuation and managed investment products).