A superannuation consumer body, the Superannuation Consumers’ Centre (SCC), will finally become fully operational, thanks to $2.5 million in enforceable undertakings from ANZ and CBA for the mis-selling of superannuation.
It is ironic justice that the SCC, the first and only consumer body representing the consumer interest in superannuation, is viable due to regulatory action on mis-selling of super products.
SCC board member Jenni Mack, who is also a trustee of Sunsuper and former chief executive of Choice, says the centre will focus on policy, research, advocacy, consumer education and empowerment.
“This funding will allow the SCC to help individuals navigate the superannuation system by arming them with clear information and assisting on cases, while also championing reform,” Mack says. “By working with consumers directly, you get insights into their individual experiences, but we also want insights into the collective experience.”
Mack and others have been championing a specialist organisation for superannuation consumer advocacy for two decades; the SCC formed in 2013.
There are more than 30 industry bodies representing the superannuation industry, but no specialist body to represent the authentic interests of consumers, Mack says.
“Given the superannuation sector is now worth more than $2 trillion a year, a specialist consumer organisation in this space is long overdue.”
The original business case for the centre, written five years ago, outlined its efforts in two broad areas: advocating for consumer interests in policymaking and industry practice; and focusing on assistance, engagement and empowerment of consumers to help them act in their own interests. The latter would include providing direct assistance to consumers to help them navigate the system, and gather and disseminate information. These activities will be delivered through a social media platform dedicated to super.
On the advocacy side, the SCC will actively back consumers’ interest, research and analyse consumer issues in the superannuation system, and identify and act on systemic issues.
“This funding gives us a start,” Mack says. “And we will start operating quite quickly.”
The board of the SCC, which also includes University of Sydney professor of finance Susan Thorp and chair Rod Stowe, will meet to decide on key hires and short-term priorities.