The outgoing chief executive of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has three priorities for her final months: governance of super funds, governance of SuperStream, and tax concessions.
ASFA chief executive Pauline Vamos announced her resignation on Wednesday, and will stay at the peak body – which she has led since September 2007 – until at least June 30 to ensure an orderly transition to a new chief executive. She intends to keep campaigning on these issues, with the focus being on the governance of super funds.
“We’ve got to get the governance settings right and get them in [place], and stop that conversation because there are so many other things we’ve got to do,” Vamos said. “Once you have governance in place other things start to happen.”
Next on her list is ensuring the tax debate focuses on the long-term impacts to the super system.
Her third priority relates to SuperStream. “We have now a payment and data system underpinning the industry, and that system needs to be fully implemented. It needs to be governed properly and it needs to save costs, and that is unfinished business,” she says.
“I have a great team who will help me, but for me, super fund governance, tax, and gateway governance are the big three.”
One of the main reasons Vamos has chosen this time to depart is because it is an election year. In her experience the first half of the year is massive, and in the second half things “die down”.
“You don’t get, in this business, many times when this breather occurs, so my thinking was I either go now or I go in two or three years,” Vamos said.
She added this would allow the new chief executive six months to get to know the environment, industry, and stakeholders, so they can hit the ground running next year.
“This is such a broad job, you’ve got to look after a business, you have to lead a team, you have a lot of policy and advocacy to get your head around, you have many members and industry and stakeholders to engage with. You need time to settle in.”
The ASFA board will shortly commence recruitment for her replacement and have asked Vamos to stay to assist with the process.
For Vamos the most important quality for her successor is that they are able to win the hearts and minds of ASFA’s “highly skilled team”. Secondly, they need to know what makes stakeholder and members tick, “because you need to understand the impact of anything you advocate”.
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“It is a job and a world that I have loved, and still love. It has been an honour to serve ASFA members. It has been an honour to serve the ASFA team and the ASFA board. Not many people get that privilege. I have not taken this decision lightly and I am grateful for being allowed to stay as long as I have,” Vamos said.
As to what is next for Vamos, she says she is looking for opportunities where she can provide the most value to the community, and “the most value to getting good consumer outcomes”.