Acting chief executive of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees puts the focus on engagement to steer group’s members through the changes ahead.
IM: What do you think should be the top priority for AIST this year?
ES: There are many significant policy discussions afoot this year in the superannuation space. Ensuring that the members of Australia’s profit-to-member funds’ interests are protected in those debates – and that the value profit-to-member funds bring is understood – [is important]. The chief executive will have a big role in advocacy this year to protect benefits and the structure of our universal superannuation system. AIST’s role is to support, advocate and lead profit-to-member super funds through the evolving policy landscape.
What is the most useful feedback you have received on the draft governance code?
Primarily the feedback on the draft code sought clarification on a number of the proposed recommendations, such as stakeholder engagement programs, diversity reporting and how the reporting by funds would operate. The consultation process provided us with greater guidance on where the ambiguity lay and we have been able to make improvements to the Code as a result of our member input. Profit-to-member funds [make up] the leading sector in the superannuation industry and AIST’s members want to be seen as leading funds in that sector. Adhering to standards like this shows their commitment to continuous improvement.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing trustees at the moment?
Being ready, potentially, for another big round of change. Governance, default fund selection, taxation changes, the role of insurance in superannuation, the introduction of single-touch payroll and the MyRetirement proposals will all take significant member fund time, and will require trustees to engage on issues that could potentially change the face of superannuation as we know it.
What is your top priority for the year ahead?
Engaging with government, regulators and AIST’s members on the important issues facing the industry this year. It’s important that the profit-to-member sector have a strong voice in debates that could change superannuation. Our members need to be protected from changes that are detrimental to their interests in saving for their retirement.
What session at the conference are you most looking forward to and why?
Justice [Michael] Kirby has always been a hero of mine. His judgements helped me finish law school. I’m looking forward to his insights on social inclusion and I have no doubt he will set the scene for the rest of the event.
To read the other stories from our newsletter ahead of the opening of CMSF 2017, click here.