APRA claims partial vindication

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has claimed vindication from the final report of the Productivity Commission into the competitiveness and efficiency of superannuation, arguing that it aligns closely with many of the regulator’s own initiatives.

APRA deputy chair, Helen Rowell said many of the PC’s recommendations and findings aligned closely with APRA’s ongoing focus on ensuring superannuation funds delivered quality, value-for-money outcomes for their members.

She said she was particularly pleased to see the PC’s backing for APRA’s call for Parliament to pass legislation that would give the regulator greater powers, including to direct superannuation licensees to take specific actions, such as merging or winding up funds in the best interests of members.

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Rowell said APA had already been address many of the areas where the report indicated the regulator should make changes or improvements.

“With 198 APRA-regulated funds and 26.8 million member accounts spread across the industry, retail, public sector and corporate sectors – including both MySuper and Choice products – the superannuation industry is deeply complex, which poses challenges for both regulators and consumers,” she said.

“APRA has been working with the industry to improve the quality and consistency of superannuation data reporting since 2013, and intends to consult on an expanded and improved data collection in 2019,” Rowell said. “We are also undertaking a major project to transform the way in which data is collected, stored and accessed for all APRA-regulated industries.”

“APRA has intensified our scrutiny of board governance practices and conflicts of interest management. Further, we have significantly stepped up our efforts to improve co-ordination with other regulators, including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and are well progressed with a review of APRA’s enforcement strategy. APRA has previously indicated its willingness to take part in a capability review led by appropriately experienced and qualified experts.”

Rowell said APRA would consider the PC’s comprehensive report, together with the financial services Royal Commission’s final report and the Government’s subsequent response, as part of its review of priorities for supervision of the superannuation industry for the next few years.

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