AustralianSuper’s chief executive, Ian Silk, has suggested that the Banking Royal Commission didn’t cast a stern enough eye over parts of the superannuation industry on a panel discussion at the Conference of Major Superannuation Funds on the Gold Coast today.
Silk questioned the Royal Commission’s focus on NAB and NULIS for almost half the superannuation hearings last year, saying he had expected that evidence to be used to point to documentary filings to the Commission that the other Big Four banks had acted the same way.
This wasn’t the case however, with Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s final report singling out just NAB in parts of its superannuation findings.
“And I tell you what, they were dancing a jig when the report came out, the other three [big banks], thinking they got off lightly,” Silk said, noting that NAB’s behaviour in reality was an example of systemic rather than isolated misconduct.
The chief executive also addressed whether the Commission had been light on industry funds, as some in the industry suggested at the time, acknowledging that it wasn’t only for-profit funds that had practice issues.
“I look around the super sector and the problems aren’t all in the retail sector,” Silk said. While he said that some questionable decisions made by industry funds could be “fudged” as in the interests of most members, he said that community expectations going forward would dictate that trustees acted in members’ interests all of the time, not just some of it.
Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST] chief executive Eva Scheerlinck, speaking on the same panel, also raised some questions about the Royal Commission’s overall findings. She labelled the final report “an anti-climax”, saying that she had expected recommendations for prosecutions and further investigations.
Scheerlinck noted however, that “the commentary in the report [beyond the recommdnations] actually has a lot sitting behind it and we’ll see a lot coming out of it” going forward.
Silk also attempted to shoot down concerns that a Labor Federal Government would be biased toward industry funds, reflecting broader concerns that some of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s election promises would give undue power to the unions.
“There’s a bit of a view that a Labor Government would be the salvage of industry funds,” Silk said. “That’s not true.” Rather, he felt that a Shorten Government would adopt a “pro-member mindset” and industry funds would have to meet that, as would retail funds.