Responding to the rapidly changing insurance landscape and addressing the increased regulatory focus on fund expenditure and member outcomes are just two of the things keeping the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees’ policy team busy in 2018.

AIST head of advocacy Ailsa Goodwin will facilitate a session on the topic at AIST’s Conference of Major Superannuation Funds 2018, at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Thursday, March 15. Goodwin and two of her colleagues – policy and regulatory analyst Jake Sims and senior policy adviser Karen Volpato – will outline the organisation’s policy priorities for the year.

Ahead of that, Goodwin answered the following questions for Investment Magazine.

What was the biggest policy achievement for AIST over the last 12 months?

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s move to step back from implementing its RG 97 reform on fee and cost disclosure in its current form and appoint external expert Darren McShane to lead a review. Credit should go to my colleague Karen Volpato and a dedicated group of our members who have worked tirelessly on this issue for several years.

What are AIST’s top policy priorities for 2018?

Improving retirement outcomes for ordinary working people. Two ways we will continue to work towards that goal are advocating for measures to claw back unpaid super for members of our funds, and campaigning for the super guarantee to be raised to 12 per cent sooner – both essential to improving outcomes for low- and middle-income earners. AIST will also campaign in support of Women in Super’s Make Super Fair campaign.

We’ll also be supporting our funds as they respond to the royal commission and implement a barrage of regulatory changes, including the establishment of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority and the rollout of the insurance code.  AIST has increased its legal and public relations resources to help our funds through the next 12 months.

Can we get an update on the uptake of the AIST Governance Code?

It is very pleasing that 25 funds have already adopted the code. Of those, seven will also be reporting on their compliance this year on a voluntary basis. The AIST team is looking forward to hearing from the rest of our membership over the next 12 months and helping them work through any issues they have.

We were delighted to be able to announce at CMSF 2018 the appointment of the AIST Governance Code Monitoring Panel, headed by former APRA executive Greg Brunner.

How is the rollout of the Insurance in Superannuation Voluntary Code of Practice going?

AustralianSuper was the first fund to sign on to the code and a growing number of industry and corporate funds across the country are now also on board. We’re really pleased about that. However, we also understand that many other funds are working through the process of adopting the code and that their internal processes may take some time. We are confident that the code will be embraced by our sector and that the members of our funds will be better off as a result.

What would you like to see come out of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s RG 97 review?

The relationship between AIST, our members and the regulator strengthened as longstanding concerns with ASIC’s guidance on fee and cost disclosures are addressed.

We recognise some of the problems with disclosure on fees and costs are due to legislation that ASIC does have the power to change. So, we’d like the review to recognise that and make some recommendations for a way forward to address those underlying problems.

There should be robust consumer testing of proposed fee and cost disclosure rules so they are informed by reliable data on how real members actually use the information provided to compare fees and costs across different products.

What do you think should be the government’s top priority for its CIPR review panel?

Ensuring a transparent process and getting the composition of the panel right, so that everybody has a say in getting the right outcome for retirees. The panel must include adequate representation from profit-to-member funds.

READ MORE: All the coverage from CMSF 2018 

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