AMP Limited has applied the brakes to corporate superannuation fund successor fund transfers claiming it is hamstrung by market volatility but at least one of the fund involved, Anglican Super, strongly disagrees.
After deciding more than 18 months’ ago to part company with AMP and move to Mercer in the wake of the Royal Commission, Anglican Super has found what it thought might be a six-month or 12 month process having blown out to 18 months with AMP signalling further COVID-19 volatility-related delays.
The situation has been confirmed by Anglican Super chairman, James Flavin who has told Money Management and Super Review that the fund has found dealing with AMP Limited on the successor fund transfer issue exasperating.
“Moving up to Easter I can only cite the biblical quote from Moses – ‘Let my people go’,” he said.
Flavin claims that, without prior notice to him or other members of the Anglican Super board of trustees, AMP had written to members of the fund and employers stating that the successor fund transfer which was scheduled to be completed on 27 March had been “suspended”.
The letter stated: “The trustee has a duty to act in the best interest of members and to promote their financial interests. Since the end of February 2020 financial markets have experienced extreme volatility, in relation to the development and spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Given unprecedented market fluctuations, AMP Superannuation Limited (ASL) as trustee of the Anglican National Superannuation Plan (ANS Plan), has made the decision to suspend the scheduled SFT due to concerns in the current stressed market environment”.
Employers also received an e-mail from AMP claiming “There has been a decision by the trustees of Anglicare National Super Plan to suspend the termination until further notice” and stating: “Owing this change, you can resume using the AMP clearing house eSuper for the interim to remit superannuation contributions, and generate new membership in the plan”.
The Anglican Super board responded immediately that “Firstly, we continue to voice our protest to the unilateral decision of AMP to withhold the transition. Secondly, we are embarrassed by the communications that AMP has so shoddily put together to communicate with our employers”.
Flavin said his fund had become increasingly disillusioned in its dealings with AMP on the successor fund transfer and in circumstances where he believed AMP, by delaying the process, was simply making things worse for members many of whom were women working in lower-paid occupations.
Asked to comment on the situation, AMP issued the following statement:
“AMP’s superannuation trustees have the obligation and fiduciary responsibility to ensure the interests of all superannuation members are protected, including members who are transitioning to another superannuation provider.
“Given the unprecedented market volatility and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, and the potential impacts to members during a fund transfer, the trustees have decide to temporarily postpone the Anglican National Super plan transfer.
“The postponement is line with actions of others in the industry to ensure members are not exposed to the risk of heightened transaction costs, and the costs of being out of market while a transfer is being undertaken.
“AMP has engaged extensively with ANS to explain the rationale for the postponement. We have also explained the situation to the regulator.
“AMP is continuing to closely monitor conditions and is committed to completing the transfer of funds as soon as there is a sustained stabilisation in markets and at a time that is more beneficial to members.”