The date July 1, 2013 is a significant one for the superannuation industry in Australia for a couple of reasons. While it marks the commencement of Stronger Super, it also sees the departure of the man who has overseen its inception.
About a week and a half ago, it was announced by the deputy prime minister and treasurer’s office that Ross Jones, deputy chair of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), will not be signing on for a third term. Far from causing ripples in the industry, it seems not to have caused so much as a wave.

Perhaps it signals a confident industry, ready for change regardless of the change in captain of the ship. But at the time of writing, a replacement for the super industry regulator was yet to be announced. The treasurer said it will recommend APRA member Ian Laughlin be appointed deputy chair and sign on for two more years as of July 1. But his focus will remain the insurance industry.

This leaves a gaping hole in the supervision of super. While the announcement of a replacement may be made soon, the transition into a new period of regulation could prove a more challenging time for the industry than initially anticipated.

There’s no doubt Jones will be leaving something of a legacy. He led the charge in the superannuation industry’s Stronger Super reforms. By all accounts, he’s done so with complete integrity and a refreshing openness to the industry. Many have commented that he’s as approachable as he says he is. Having interviewed him a few times, he’s always shown himself to be authentic and candid, with a critical mind.

When I interviewed Jones for Investment Magazine’s May edition, he said his choice was about renewal. Applying the type of governance standards APRA expects of industry, Jones said it’s time to let in some fresh blood. He further indicated that he didn’t intend to continue working in the industry, for example, by way of consultancy. If that was the plan, he’d stay with the regulator, he said.

Fair enough. It should be extremely interesting, then, to see who will step into his shoes and what it will mean for an industry on the cusp of significant change.

For a full interview with Ross Jones, see the May edition of Investment Magazine.

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