The boards of these  funds required a new level of expertise  again, and brought on independent  directors such as Bernie Fraser, former  governor of the Reserve Bank (AustralianSuper,  Cbus), and Chris Cuffe,  former chief executive at Colonial First  State (UniSuper). A 2008 APRA  survey found that these days the highest  priority for most trustee boards is “ensuring  compliance with legislation and  regulation”, which takes an average of 23  per cent of the boards’ total time.  “The super industry has changed,”  says Fiona Reynolds, chief executive at  the Australian Institute of Superannuation  Trustees.

“Funds are getting to over  $10 billion, in some cases up to $30  billion, and some are realising that they  need to look externally for expertise.”  The aforementioned APRA survey,  Superannuation fund governance: Trustee  polices and practices, published in May  2008, looked at the boards of 187 of the  major superannuation funds, representing  about 85 per cent of the nation’s  pension assets. It found that on average,  super funds have seven directors.

Each  fund holds an average of 8.1 board  meetings per year, with each board  meeting having a mean duration of 3.6  hours. The meetings are supplemented  on average by 12.8 sub-committee  meetings per year, which lead to each  trustee director spending on average  98.8 hours per year on fund matters  outside board meetings.  McGuirk Management Consultants  is a firm that advises super funds on  what might be an appropriate level of  compensation for all this work. Its principal,  Terry McGuirk, says that most of  the differences in levels of remuneration  can be generally explained by fund size,  and what comparable organisations are  paying in the private sector. 

According to MMC’s 20 Fund  Executive, Staff & Trustee Remuneration  Survey, the average trustee chair receives  a salary of $52,969, while the average  trustee director gets $28,794. APRA  does not distinguish between chairs and  directors in its survey, but estimates the  average trustee salary is about $38,000.  Slightly below average is the Seafarers  Retirement Fund (SRF), whose  board members were volunteers until  July 1, 2007. Chief executive Peter  Robertson says that the demands on  the board have been growing with the  increasing complexity of the industry, so  the fund decided to pay the employee  sponsors of their directors for the time  away from work.

SRF pays the employer  of each director of its eight-person  board $30,000, and the chair $40,000,  regardless of the price the company they  work for may place on their time.  The top 10th percentile of funds  with more than 200,000 members have  a median director salary of $86,303.  The board members at UniSuper would  be among the most well remunerated,  with one (most likely the chair) receiving  between $140,000 and $179,000,  and another between $110,000 and  $139,999 in 2008. The other 10 directors  have a range of salaries from between  $90,000 and $99,000, to between  $20,000 and $29,000. 

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