Sunsuper stands alone as the only superannuation fund, at least in the not-for-profit sector, that does not offer early access on grounds of financial hardship and this does not represent best interests duty, according to a lawyer.
Berrill and Watson Lawyers director, John Berrill, said there now stood a decision for Sunsuper: “Will they continue to stand out from the rest? Or will they use a perfect opportunity as part of merger talks with QSuper who do allow members access to super in times of financial need?”.
“At the moment if someone that is in Sunsuper and needs to get access to their super because of financial hardship they have to transfer money out and into another super fund and possibly cop a fee to do that in order to access their super,” he said.
“It’s hardly acting in the members’ best interest to put them through that. It’s over to you Sunsuper.”
Berrill noted the fund’s TV ad and website stated “our customers sit at the heart of everything we do” but now it was the only major super fund in the not-for-profit sector that did not allow members early access to super on grounds of financial hardship.
When Super Review requested an interview on the matter with Sunsuper, the fund responded with a statement that said: “As a profit-for-members superannuation fund, it is our job first and foremost to help members save for the most financially comfortable retirement possible.
“However, we recognise that supporting vulnerable members is also important, so our financial hardship policy is currently under review”.
In October, industry super fund, Rest announced that its members could access their super if they were “experiencing severe financial hardship”. The fund said it had changed it policy after “listening to members, many of which come from less advantaged backgrounds, we know how much of a difference this can make”.
Prior to this change, Rest and Sunsuper were the only profit-to-member funds that did not allow early access to super for financial hardship.