Super funds will get a few weeks before feeling the APRA heat

30 October 2019

Superannuation funds are going to get “a few weeks” heads-up to understand the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA’s) methodology around its controversial heat map approach to assessing member outcomes.

Confronted by strong questioning during Senate Estimates, Rowell said that while the regulator was open to feedback “at the end of the day, I think it is our call as to how we publish our data and the information that we present”.

“This is not a policy consultation,” she said.

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Northern Territory Labor Senator, Malarndirri McCarthy had directly queried APRA’s approach stating the regulator was developing a new product which was going to apply judgements about the performance of different funds on different dimensions.

“It's a new product and it's going to have an impact on the sector. Explain to me the extent to which participants in the sector will have visibility on the methodology you're using to prepare these heat maps before you finalise that methodology. Just step me through it. What is the exposure?” she asked.

Rowell said that APRA was proposing to publish an information paper with details around the methodology a few weeks ahead of the publication of the actual heat map, with data in it.

“We're providing a few weeks for industry and other stakeholders to understand the methodology and the approach before the actual data and the heat maps are in the public domain,” she said.

“I think it is also important to note that we have been through a fairly rigorous internal approach to develop our measures and our approach. It's gone through our internal governance processes and we'll do that before it's finally released. We've also got external advisers – experts in the field, if you like – to review and validate the approach that we've taken.”

Rowell said that APRA was open to feedback but that it was not undertaking a consultation.

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Good question. It would have been interesting to look at the "heat" map when some of the so-called better performing Industry Funds got hammered during the GFC, with short term losses of up to 20 percent. Does a heat map take investor preferences regarding capital risk into account?

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