Super funds hiding behind the rules: Superannuation Complaints Tribunal

The chairperson of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, Jocelyn Furlan, has strongly criticised super funds for trying to use superannuation rules as a fig leaf when dealing with member complaints.

In an address to the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees client services symposium in Melbourne, Furlan brought a case study in which a member complained about defined benefit calculations that left him worse off, and the superannuation fund tried to defend itself by claiming the benefit had been calculated according to the rules.

That response didn't deal with the substantive issue at hand, Furlan said.

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"That's not what this complaint is about. We know his benefit was defined in accordance with the rules, and yet we get it over and over again," Furlan said.

Superannuation funds should be either compromising, settling the complaint, or making an offer to the member, rather than claiming there was nothing they could do, Furlan said. 

Furlan also scolded superannuation funds for not doing enough to rectify misrecorded client information.

11 per cent of all client service complaints were about information that was repeatedly not being recorded properly, she said.

"We shouldn't be getting those complaints. They should be being dealt with by you at fund level," she said.

The most common complaint from members (17 per cent) was failing to understand how their defined benefit was calculated, or that it was wrong, Furlan said.

Many members do not understand what is going on with the benefit, and they don't know how it's calculated, she said.

Furlan questioned what disclosure plans super funds have in place for their baby boomers as they get to retirement.

"They're feeling very financially vulnerable as they get to retirement," she said.

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