Does annual membership of ASFA really deliver over $82,000 in value?

Amid Government back-bench criticism of how much superannuation funds pay to be members of industry organisations and lobby groups, one of Australia’s largest industry funds, REST, has revealed it pays well over $130,000 a year for just two memberships. 

Those back-benchers have questioned the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) one whether the payment of such subscriptions should be formally scrutinised to determine whether it would comply with the proposed new members best financial interests test. 

Answering questions on notice from a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Economics, REST revealed that it normally pays an annual membership of $52,250 to be a member of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) and $82,533 to be a member of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). 

The answer came amid probing by NSW Liberal Senator, Andrew Bragg who has previously been a policy executive for the Financial Services Council. 

Bragg asked virtually all funds giving evidence to the Committee’s review of the Government’s Your Future, Your Super legislation to what industry organisations they belonged and whether they believed there were too many organisations seeking to represent the industry. 

A number of funds agreed that there might be scope for consolidation with respect to industry organisations. 

However, in a detailed answer to a question from Bragg on the subscriptions it paid to AIST and ASFA, the fund answered as follows: 

“As it relates to Rest’s AIST membership, our most recent invoice was AUD $28,875 for a membership period 1 January to 30 June 2021. This invoice represents a six-month period as AIST are adjusting their fee methodology effective 1 July 2021. The last annual payment for calendar year 2020 was AUD $52,250. 

“As it relates to Rest’s ASFA membership, the annual cost for the financial year 2020-21 is AUD $82,533.” 

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There are currently 34 Industry funds (Source: APRA, March 2021) and 15 are "ISA" (Source: ISA, today).
If all funds were members of these "Industry organisations and
lobby groups" that's quite a bit of dough.

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