O’Dwyer questions profit-sharing between super funds and insurers

Profit-sharing arrangements between insurance companies and some major superannuation funds have come under scrutiny by the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer and have been directed for the attention of the Productivity Commission (PC).

The profit-sharing arrangements have often been the subject of criticism by financial planners and O’Dwyer used a radio interview to question whether such arrangements were actually in the best interests of superannuation fund members.

Discussing the broad question of insurance within superannuation and the manner in which premiums could erode account balances, the minister said it all became a question of what was in the best interests of members and the industry needed to justify such arrangements.

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“There are also arrangements where there are profit-share arrangements with a number of these funds as well, and again, the question is – are individual members actually getting the benefit of that or, in fact, is the fund itself getting the benefit and that not being passed on?” O’Dwyer said.

Her comments follow on from last year’s submissions to the Joint Parliamentary Committee reviewing the Life Insurance industry in which one major insurer pointed to the existence of the so-called profit-sharing arrangements but said it believed the rebates provided to the superannuation fund were then put to work for members.

Financial planners have argued that the profit-sharing rebates provided to superannuation funds, particularly industry funds, are similar to the volume rebates provided to dealer groups which were outlawed under the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) changes.

Elsewhere in her discussion of insurance and superannuation, O’Dwyer spoke openly of the need for change in the superannuation sector claiming that while some people in the industry believed it was perfect and not in need of change, the truth was the industry might be doing better than the individuals it was meant to serve.

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The big issue here is whether there has been a failure by various super fund Trustees to properly look out for the interests of their members. Of particular interest is whether Trustees, in switching cover to "cheaper" insurance companies that impose "pre-existing conditions clauses" that exclude some members from cover, despite the member being at work and that they would previously have been covered under universal cover conditions. Pin point where that cover changed, and you have truly negligent activity involved. Hard to believe a Blackburn and Maurice type organisation haven't chased this hard with the squillions of dollars that have been avoided in real claims - dollars that have undoubtedly added to the "profit sharing pools".

Profit sharing at the ISN has been going on for over 25 years and the Liberals knew it

Profits then dripped out through Directors fees and Marketing Allowances

A levy is charged by the Union and ALP on these fees which are then transferred to organisations such as Get Up

Get Up then target the marginal seats leading to a Labor Landslide at the next election

Advisers who gave advise were eliminated while the ISN ran their group schemes under general advice with impunity

The Coalition have only themselves to blame with the amount involved far greater than Union Membership fees

Pushing for Independent Directors to do their heavy lifting for them wont cut it

Game over !

There is an elephant in the room. Profits from the insurance are used to subsidise the fees in these so-called not-for-profit funds. This is a gross injustice. It means young, dis-engaged and low income workers in these funds (which make up the majority of members) are subsidising the wealthier and retired members. There is a simple solution. If the funds wish to call themselves 'Not-for-Profit' the Government should force these funds to rebate any profit sharing in relation to insurance back to members via a reduction in the insurance premiums. This would force the super funds to charge the correct fees and it would reduce the incentive for these funds to screw members with over-priced, poor quality cover.

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