EISS CEO resigns from super fund

Alex Hutchison, chief executive of the Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS), has resigned following an investigation into excessive sponsorship and bullying complaints.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Hutchison had left the super fund effective immediately and Lance Foster, chief financial officer, would take the CEO in an acting capacity.

A statement from chair, Warren Mundy, said: "Dr Mundy said: “We would like to acknowledge the significant contribution Mr. Hutchison has made to EISS Super and in particular ensuring members and employers rights were protected during the unprecedented restructuring of the electricity industry in NSW and ensuring the funding position of the defined benefit fund was returned to surplus.

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“EISS Super is filled with incredibly talented people who are highly dedicated and more than capable of completing the merger transaction. Given the industry challenges ahead, it is good to know that EISS Super is in safe hands.”

Hutchison added: "I am looking forward to taking some time out before considering what I want to do next. The timing is right for me and it's right for the fund.”

He had led the $6 billion super fund as CEO since May 2012.

It followed investigations into the fund’s sponsorship deals of football clubs and whether these were in the best interest of members. There had also been concerns about ‘extravagant spending’ at the fund’s Christmas party.

The sponsorship and expenditure was brought up in Parliament on 10 September during questioning by Tim Wilson of the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) by the House of Representatives standing committee of economics. Wilson questioned APRA chair, Wayne Byres, if the expenditure met the sole purpose test.

"We do not get as a routine matter very detailed lists of expenditure, we do not sign off on every piece of expenditure that happens within a financial institution. The purpose of the new legislation is to give us authority to clamp down on [spending] that is questionable.”

“We are looking at the facts of that. I’m wary of opining of things there is subsequent action on," replied Byres.

In response, Wilson said: “All this says to me is that it puts to bed the lie that was perpetuated since the Hayne Royal Commission are all valorous and doing things in the best interest of their members.”

Separately, there were bullying complaints made against a senior manager made by former general manager of people and culture Lisa Elias, and high staff turnover.

The fund announced this year that it intended to merge with TWUSuper and had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the matter.

The fund’s MySuper product was also recently one of 13 super funds to fail the APRA's performance test. 


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