But once in place and the industry has a set of protocols as to how funds and administrators can better use the TFN, it will make the job of tracing lost super and reducing duplicate accounts much easier – it’s also the key building block for considering account consolidation in the future. The other simple idea, which has also been kicking around for some years without getting off the ground, is that of universal data standards. AIST will recommend to the SuperStream subgroup looking at this issue that the Government establish a Superannuation Standards Authority.
An authority with a mix of industry leaders, technicians and consumer representatives who would be appointed by the Government to consult, design, implement, and then monitor a set of standards to be used across the industry. Super funds have been tolerant of data from employers in every shape and size. This might have initially helped get employers on board with super, but this diversity has ultimately become a millstone. It needs to be addressed now, but as the Government said in its response to Cooper, consideration will only be given to mandated electronic payment systems when the industry can show that it’s got its backoffice in order. By efficiently implementing TFN identification, and agreeing on universal data standards, we will be able to show that we are well on the way. The important thing though, is that we now have a framework that, once implemented, should make superannuation a lot easier for members to navigate.