This is most commonly expressed in their approach to communications, and AIST thinks that one of the major impediments to effective communication with members is the complexity of the regulatory regime. “We’re a strong supporter of a tough regulatory regime, which has stood Australia in good stead not only during the past tumultuous two years but also since the present superannuation system was first established more than 20 years ago,” Reynolds says. “But, we support better, rather than more, regulation in the disclosure and communication area. “Trustees need to be open and accountable: individually to their memberships, and collectively to the community at large.

We don’t suggest that no change to current governance arrangements be countenanced, but we believe the evidence is clear that the representative trustee system has performed well in managing member interests and ensuring that Australia’s superannuation system has contributed significantly to dealing with the nation’s many challenges, from managing longevity issues to the establishment of nation-building enterprises.” Education Trustees recognise their duties not only to disclose, but also to communicate and promote understanding. While disclosure is the “skeleton” of effective communication, funds need to move to a system where communication is recognised and rewarded at a regulatory level, according to AIST.

Better targeted member education would help with the following: Lost super: this is a $13 billion problem with one in two working Australians having a lost super account. Member education clearly has a role to play here in alerting members to the benefit of consolidating their super accounts. Better understanding of super: superannuation funds spend large amounts of money and resources on product disclosure documents, yet they appear to have achieved very little. The focus needs to switch from producing volumes of documents that are not read, to improved investor education and assisting people to make informed decisions. AIST supports new efforts to produce more user-friendly short-form PDSs; however, member education is critical to the success of the system. Government-run consumer super information: In addition to educational material produced by funds, a centralised Federal agency would give consumers unbiased and trustworthy information as well as promoting engagement and understanding in the industry.

More detailed statistics on superannuation should be available to researchers, policy makers, and industry participants and so an agency dedicated to the simplification, supply and streamlining of superannuation data collection and publication is required. According to Reynolds, this agency [dubbed the Australian Superannuation Statistics and Reporting Agency – ASSRA for short] would provide funds with a one-stop shop for sending data, submitting returns, and lodging information and also could have a public face for consumers, such as ASIC’s Fido, which could provide general superannuation information, forecast tools, PDSs and performance. “Centralising access to this material would greatly enhance member education outcomes, and it would make sense for the performance information to be presented through this site in a consumer-friendly format.

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