The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has drawn a direct commercial link between Industry Fund Services (IFS) and the industry superannuation funds which both use it and utilise its financial planning services.
In doing so, ASIC has made clear that it is prepared to treat industry superannuation fund structures in the same fashion as bank and other institutional structures where shareholdings and overlapping service agreements exist.
In a finding which has implications for 27 superannuation funds which are shareholders in IFS and as reported by Money Management yesterday, industry HostPlus was required to pay a $12,600 infringement notice issued by ASIC for making misleading claims about offering ‘independent advice’.
However, the critical element in the ASIC approach was that the regulator formally expressed concern that “HostPlus and IFS were not independent of each other”.
It said this was the case because “HostPlus employees were appointed as authorised representatives to provide financial advice under IFS’ Australian financial services license, HostPlus paid service fees to IFS for adviser services and at the relevant time, HostPlus was a shareholder of IFS’ ultimate holding company”.
In doing so ASIC clearly referenced that HostPlus was a shareholder in in IFS alongside 26 other industry superannuation funds including some of the largest including AustralianSuper, UniSuper and Cbus.