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BFCSA: A more assertive APRA? Banking regulator is put on notice by Bank Customers

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'Expect to see a more assertive APRA': Banking regulator puts super industry on notice

The Age March 13, 2019 6.02pm

Sumeyya Ilanbey


Superannuation trustees caught acting against their members interests will be named and shamed as the prudential regulator seeks to make a public example of wrongdoers.

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority deputy chair Helen Rowell pledged a tougher line from the regulator after its "wake up call" at the hands of the royal commission.

"You can expect to see a more assertive APRA that pushes harder for trustees to fix problems more quickly, is less patient with inadequate responses or inaction, and more willing to make an example of uncooperative trustees and directors," Ms Rowell told the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees conference on Wednesday.

"APRA will maintain its focus on cleaning up the unsustainable and underperforming tail of the industry, as well as continuing to lift standards of practice more broadly."

The $1.7 trillion superannuation industry has been shrouded in darkness because of inadequate regulation, the banking royal commission heard in August.

APRA, along with the Australian Securities Investment Commission, was lambasted during the banking royal commission for its approach to regulation and a focus on prudential matters over policing conduct.

Ms Rowell said APRA would do a "deep dive" review of the superannuation industry with a focus on investment performance, fees and costs, insurance, and scale and sustainability, and make their findings public.

It would begin by weeding out the underperforming funds within MySuper before broadening the review to include choice products.

"With almost 200 funds and 40,000 options spread across different industry sectors, acquiring the information and presenting it in a way that balances accuracy and simplicity is extremely challenging," Ms Rowell said.

"The waters are further muddied by a tendency for vested interests to skew the data to paint their sector, fund or product in the most flattering light."

The waters are further muddied by a tendency for vested interests to skew the data.

APRA deputy chair Helen Rowell

Her comments came as AustralianSuper chief executive Ian Silk told the same conference that the nation's worst performing funds ought to be wound up and for the entire industry to "push harder" to put members' interests first.

But Ms Rowell said the public disclosure of the worst performing funds was unlikely to happen in the short-term as it could severely dent the financial interests of members.

"But I do stress 'for now'," she said.

"We are actively developing ways to provide greater transparency around the outcomes individual funds and products are delivering their members, thereby making performance clearer to all."

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