The McGuirk figures are taken from a survey of 57 industry funds, 30 corporate funds, 14 public sector funds and one corporate master trust. The public sector is the most generous, paying chairs an average $61,473 and directors an average $32,853. It is followed by the industry funds, which pay chairs $52,316 and directors $28,761. Last are the corporate funds, which allow chairs $48,564, and directors, $24,678. But of these funds, six industry, 17 corporate, one public sector fund and the master trust do not pay their trustees at all.
APRA found that some 54 per cent of directors were either not paid by the board or did not declare their pay. One such fund is the $14 billion Retail Employees Super Trust (REST), whose board hardly seems to have changed since its inception in 1988. Joe De Bruyn, an employee representative appointed by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, has been a board member since the beginning. Rohan Jeffs, an employer representative appointed by Woolworths, has been on the board since 1990.
Both are volunteers. A spokesperson from REST said its board members firmly believe in the old adage ‘profit for the member’ and that taking salaries would ultimately lead to a lower return for members. Damian Hill, chief executive officer at REST was unavailable for comment, but one assumes he would say that REST is able to provide a well governed fund that has consistently good returns without paying high trustee remuneration. “It’s an argument that they make very well,” says Rosario. “But the challenge for other funds is that most of us have to bargain in the skill matrix. And there are serious liabilities for getting it wrong.
REST have been very fortunate.” Westscheme pays its chairman $114,490, and each director $54,956. Its committee members also receive a sitting fee of $1,284. Each board member is paid directly and is responsible for making arrangements with their employer if Westscheme obligations clash with business hours. “We wanted to pay our board members directly so that there is no confusion that they work for Westscheme, and that we are a top priority,” Rosario says. “Also as the original board began to consider retirement from the workforce, we needed to figure out a way to keep them engaged as board members, so we started to remunerate directly.”
Westscheme discloses the remuneration of its directors in its annual reports as far back as 1995, in which it is revealed that its two independent directors at the time were paid $10,500, in addition to a superannuation contribution of $1,050. “We realised long ago that people needed to be paid for the work that they do,” Rosario says. “And as the industry became more complex, experience on the board needed to extend beyond the layman.”