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Tuesday 4 July 2017

17-222MR ASIC acts to improve transparency of super websites

ASIC has intervened in relation to 21 superannuation trustees, representing 15 per cent of the trustee population, to improve 'Transparency Information' (TI) on their super fund websites.

Under s29QB of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act), each superannuation fund must disclose TI on a website and keep it up to date at all times.

TI comprises remuneration, governance and other information related to the fund; for example trustee directors’ remuneration for the last two financial years, fund trust deeds and product disclosure statements, a summary of significant event notices sent to fund members in the last two years and a summary of how the trustee voted in the last financial year in relation to listed shares held by the fund.

ASIC's action follows an earlier review of transparency disclosure requirements introduced as part of the Stronger Super reforms (refer: 15-245MR), and a broader focus on ensuring superannuation trustees deliver transparent and accessible superannuation fund information.

Twenty-one super fund websites were identified as failing to meet TI requirements. Two of the super funds had assets exceeding $10 billion while the remaining 19 were smaller funds.

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said the economic significance of superannuation meant that information about the superannuation industry should be transparent, both for fund members and gatekeepers such as analysts, advisers and journalists.

'ASIC's expectation is that super fund websites should be easily found by searching on the fund's name using an Internet search engine and that the website homepage should prominently point to the Transparency Information', Mr Kell said.

The transparency deficiencies identified in ASIC's review comprised:

  • no super fund website (10 funds);
  • no TI on the fund website (four funds);
  • no remuneration information (five funds); and
  • remuneration disclosed in bands, rather than for each individual executive officer (two funds).

ASIC action and results

ASIC wrote to the trustees of the 21 super funds asking them to address these transparency failures.

As a result, seven trustees disclosed the required information, five made it easier to find the information and trustees of two small funds, who did not have websites, sought relief from TI obligations. Seven trustees transferred fund members to another fund before winding up the fund. Two trustees also improved their procedures for ensuring that TI is up to date.

Table 1 sets out the results according to TI failure type.

Table 1: Results for each TI failure type

TI failure

Information now disclosed

Improved findability or navigation

Relief sought

Fund wound up

Total

A No fund website

3

1

2

4

10

B No Transparency Information

1

1

0

2

4

C No remuneration report on fund website

1

3

0

1

5

D Remuneration disclosed in bands

2

0

0

0

2

Total

7

5

2

7

21

ASIC has received applications for relief from TI obligations from two trustees that were in breach of the requirement to have a website, but no relief has been granted at this stage. ASIC cannot give relief for breaches that have already taken place and will consider what further action may be necessary here.

'ASIC's expectations about effective disclosure that complies with the TI requirements are addressed in new MySuper FAQ D7, our earlier media release 15‑245MR ASIC reviews transparency information on super websites and other ASIC MySuper FAQs. We encourage trustees to familiarise themselves with this guidance when designing or updating their super websites', Mr Kell said.

Background

Regulations 2.37 and 2.38 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 specify what TI must include.

Failure to comply with TI obligations is a strict liability offence.

The 21 super funds where TI deficiencies were identified represented approximately 8 per cent of APRA-regulated funds (that are not small APRA funds).

ASIC has given industry relief and guidance in relation to the timing of the provision of information under s29QB (refer: Regulatory Guide 252 Keeping superannuation websites up to date).

Last updated: 04/07/2017 12:00