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Reporting to AIST Code signals strong commitment to governance
AIST member funds have demonstrated a strong commitment to the high standards of corporate governance set by AIST’s Governance Code in their reports against the Code for fiscal year 2019.
The Governance Code consists of 8 principles and 21 reporting requirements to protect and improve outcomes for superannuation fund members. The independent Governance Monitoring Panel’s Report assesses fund reporting against the Code and is publicly available as of this morning.
In the first year of reporting against the AIST Governance Code Monitoring Panel, 84.9% of 41 AIST member funds reported fully meeting Code’s 21 reporting requirements for the fiscal year 2019.
Funds reported partially meeting 12.1% of requirements while 3% of requirements were reported as not being met. Of the funds that had partially met some of the reporting requirements, most were public sector funds which have restrictions in their governing legislation, meaning that full compliance with the Governance Code is not possible.
The Chair of the independent Governance Code Monitoring Panel, Greg Brunner, said the Panel was pleased to see that the reporting standard was strong for the first year of reporting and funds recognised further opportunities for improvement.
“It’s pleasing to see that funds voluntarily reported 143 improvement activities that they will undertake over the next 12 months to continually improve governance practices,which shows the Governance Code is achieving its objective of improving governance standards from an already sound base,” Mr Brunner said.
The AIST Governance Code became mandatory for AIST member funds on 1 July 2018 and fiscal year 2019 was the first full year of reporting. Further details are available in the Report on 2019 Compliance with the AIST Governance Code.
Next heatmap to focus on fees and costs
The next iteration of APRA’s MySuper heatmap will be released in June, with the focus on fees and costs only.
APRA says its decision to solely publish fee data reflects the purpose of the update - to show actions taken by trustees to address areas of underperformance, which APRA considers to reasonably be expected to have occurred since the heatmap was published in December 2019.
The regulator says changes to investment performance and sustainability will be expected to manifest over a longer timeframe, which APRA will reflect in later heatmap publications.
In newly published Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the APRA website provides responses to a number questions raised by super funds, including how historical data supplied to APRA after the first Heatmap will be included.
The FAQs indicate that any data supplied to APRA after the 29 May deadline will not be included until the December 2020 version of the Heatmap.
ASIC updates RG 97 info
ASIC has updated its online RG 97 information to include Q&As and other supporting documents.
Roundtable slides are available on the RG 97 webpage and include Q&As developed from common questions raised during February industry sessions.
Key questions covered include:
APRA revises implementation for data collection
APRA has revised the implementation timeline for its new data collection solution, scheduled to go live at the end of September 2020.
The regulator plans that its new data collection tool - APRA Connect - will replace Direct to APRA (D2A) and improve data collections.
New and increased data collection is also intended to support evolving regulatory needs. This includes reporting of Choice superannuation products that will provide necessary inputs for a Choice Heatmap and (hopefully) a basis for comparable information on Choice Product Dashboards.
However, both improved data collection tools, enhanced data reporting and whole-of-industry disclosure and comparison of products have been on the drawing board for almost a decade.
In recent years, APRA has announced changes to the structure, scope and timetable for projects to implement these initiatives. AIST has been involved in discussions with APRA about further changes over the past few months, well before the pandemic. APRA had flagged that funds may have to use both D2A and APRA Connect in the medium term, before the full switch to APRA connect occurs.
APRA has also announced that it may need to further revise the implantation timelines in response to uncertainty and disruption across Australian financial markets and the economy as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
While APRA notes that entities have a number of competing priorities as a result of the pandemic, it says it is nonetheless important that initiatives to improve the integrity and transparency of the superannuation system continue to be pursued.
APRA’s announcement can be seen here.
Senate green light to WA super splitting Bill
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee has recommended the WA super splitting Bill be passed with amendments.
The Family Law Amendment (Western Australia De Facto Superannuation Splitting and Bankruptcy) Bill 2019 was referred to the Committee in December 2019 to be reviewed for any possible unintended consequences.
Following public consultation, the Committee has recommended the Bill be passed with two amendments.
The first recommendation relates to the date upon which a super splitting application is filed. The Committee noted that it is not the date upon which an application is filed which determines if the superannuation of de facto couples can be split, but instead the date upon which the relevant final order is made.
The second recommendation is that the Bill be amended to expressly provide that the provisions do not apply to separating de facto couples who have already made a binding financial agreement.