With superannuation funds struggling to deliver information to their members on a range of issues from investment switching to insurance coverage, calls are emerging for a post-COVID-19 review of the interaction between general, intra-fund and personal advice.
The chief executive of electricity industry super fund EISS Super, Alex Hutchison said the past several days had reinforced the degree to which the regulatory constraints entailed in the difference between general, intra-fund and personal advice, made it difficult to give members the information they badly needed.
“When you’ve got record levels of member inquiries dealing with complex issues, then the shortcomings of the current regime become obvious and arguably need to be re-examined when the current crisis is over,” he said.
Hutchison said the answer might be to consider extending the scope of intra-fund advice.
Hutchison reported that EISS Super had recorded a 100% increase in call volumes with members raising a number of issues from whether they were eligible to participate in the Government’s hardship early access regime to whether they had appropriate insurance coverage.
The experience of EISS Super was consistent with that of other funds including the largest industry superannuation fund, AustralianSuper which reported high volumes of traffic to its call centres and longer than usual wait times.
Like other funds, AustralianSuper has created a web page dedicated to answering questions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic including reassurance that are covered with respect to the virus, but not in income protection terms where job loss occurs.
“…income protection covers total or partial disablement only. Insurance against loss of income from business closure or lack of shifts cannot be provided by super funds,” the AustralianSuper web page said.