Does ASIC lack expertise on super and funds management?

The efforts of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) have been impacted by the regulator's lack of detailed knowledge of superannuation and funds management over the past five years.

That is the assessment of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) which has told the Treasury it holds concerns about ASIC's lack of knowledge about superannuation in the context of superannuation funds being required to contribute to industry funding arrangements.

"ASFA has some concerns about ASIC's lack of experience with respect to superannuation and the implications for the efficiency of ASIC's regulatory effort," the ASFA submission said.

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"The superannuation industry has a myriad of complex structures and products — a one‐size regulatory approach is not appropriate — and ASIC has few staff on the ground with extensive superannuation knowledge and experience. This may limit the effectiveness of consultation, supervision and enforcement."

Implying past failings on the part of ASIC, the submission said there had "been instances in the past five years where a lack of detailed knowledge of the superannuation and funds management industries have had an impact on ASIC's ability to develop effective and cost‐efficient guidance".

Elsewhere in its submission, ASFA pointed to the fact that superannuation funds would be facing a substantial increase in costs flowing from an industry funding model.

It said the available data suggests that the proposed industry funding model would lead to a significant increase in baseline levies from the APRA‐regulated superannuation industry.

"For the 2015‐16 fiscal year, ASFA has calculated that baseline levies for ASIC from the superannuation industry were $3.6 million. Under the proposed industry funding model, annual levies from the superannuation industry would be around $8.5 million (based on the cost allocation for 2016‐17 in the Proposals Paper). This is an increase of around 135 per cent."




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ASFA's submissions to the Treasury is clearly an attempt to avoid closer scrutiny of the industry by a better funded ASIC. Sensationalising the proposed change highlighting the 135% increase in levy without putting things in context clearly shows the bias or the lack of common reasoning skills on the part of ASFA. Question for readers to ponder is what would the proposed levy ($8.5m) represent as a percentage of the assets size of the trillion dollar superannuation industry and would this be sufficient for ASIC to fund the resourcing with the required level of skills and expertise.

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