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AIST welcomed the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Banking Financial Services as a historic opportunity to restore community trust in financial services and prioritise consumer best interests ahead of banking profits and executive bonuses.
The Final Report – released in February 2019 - emphasised that trustees must always be acting in accordance with members’ best interests and recommended civil penalties to apply if this duty is breached. AIST supports this recommendation. This underpins and helps explain many of the Commissioner’s other recommendations.
While each of the superannuation recommendations require legislative changes, Commissioner Hayne also provided a range of additional commentary that is informing the public debate about superannuation reform.
In total, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s final report made 76 recommendations, with nine relating directly to superannuation. To date, just three recommendations have been subject to the legislative process.
It is crucial for restoring consumer trust in Australia’s financial system that the recommendations made by the Commissioner are implemented in a way that will improve outcomes for all Australians from their interactions with financial services.
Significantly, the Commissioner Hayne did not refer any profit-to-member super funds subject to investigation to the regulators for further action. Rather it is the retail super funds, along with the major banks and other for-profit entities – 14 entities in total – that are being subjected to further investigation and possible prosecution for the practices and behaviours that Commissioner Hayne found may have fallen short of the law.
Against this background, many consumers took decisive action. During the second half of 2018, there were record inflows to profit-to-member funds and a three-fold increase in outflows from retail funds. Some members of the community made the switch understanding the fundamental difference that a fund that returns profits to members is looking after their best interests and not anyone else’s. Employers too made the switch. Outraged at some of the behaviour and practices uncovered by the Royal Commission they decided to change their employees’ default fund to one that puts members’ interests first. The Royal Commission has increased awareness of the benefits of belonging to a profit-to-member fund.
Here is AIST’s view on the Royal Commission recommendations that relate to superannuation and financial advice.