Richard Powis will continue as chief executive of FuturePlus, after a NSW Local Government-appointed board member of the services provider voted against a motion from peers to sack the embattled CEO over his role in the attempt made by Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS) to merge with the NSW Local Government Superannuation Scheme (LGSS) in 2009.
On Thursday February 26, during the first FuturePlus board meeting since news of the attempted merger broke, John Beacroft, who is also a trustee of LGSS, initiated a motion to remove Powis, who as CEO of FuturePlus and EISS, communicated the case for the merger to the NSW Treasury while LGSS were not informed of the plan.
LGSS and one of its sponsoring unions, the United Services Union (USU), have described Powis’ dual CEO positions in this situation as “impossibly conflicted” because LGSS co-owns FuturePlus. Powis defended his actions by saying that he was executing directives from the EISS board and was not responsible for the corporate strategy it designed. But in its December meeting, the LGSS board expressed the unanimous view that he should step down from his role at the services provider.
But the FuturePlus board formed the opposite view. The LGSS and EISS are represented equally on FuturePlus’ eight-member board, yet Beacroft’s motion was dismissed as fellow LGSS trustee, Hurstville Councillor Beverley Giergerl, voted in support of Powis with the four EISS-appointed board members. I&T News could not reach Giergerl before presstime for comment about her reasons for voting with the EISS trustees.
No progress has been made in the proposed merger since LGSS learned of the plan in mid-December. The NSW Treasury has announced that it would not support a merger unless both funds agreed to do so in a consultative process, and the USU, which previously commissioned KPMG to investigate the benefits of a merger between the two funds, has resolved to oppose any amalgamation that is not supported by a plebiscite involving the members of both funds. The USU – which appointed Beacroft to the LGSS board – has distributed a petition to its members that calls for Powis to stand down.