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APRA identifies NESS Super board deficiencies

APRA has told the $1 billion super fund to improve its governance after a review found deficiencies with its board.

The directions follow a review of NESS Super's governance and an independent review conducted by NESS which identified skill gaps and deficiencies on the trustee board.

The directions include changing its constitution to appoint a second independent director to have equal numbers of employer, employee and independent directors. APRA said that although the fund agreed to do so, it has so far been unable to.

The board currently comprises chair Paul Lahiff, Steve Robinson, Brad McDougall, Chris Madson and John Williams.

"APRA considers the direction necessary to ensure NESS and its members have the benefit of the additional skills and capabilities that the independent director would bring to the board," the regulator said.

"Superannuation trustees must be able to take the steps required to ensure their boards have the full range of skills, knowledge and experience needed for the effective and prudent operation of their funds," APRA executive director of superannuation Suzanne Smith said.

"The promotion of strong and effective governance is fundamental to a robust superannuation industry and achieving good member outcomes. APRA will intervene to ensure that board structures appropriately address member interests and, where required, will give directions to drive the desired outcomes."

She added that the NESS Super board is working with APRA to expedite the appointment of another director.

NESS Super acknowledged the action taken by APRA.

"As a profit-to-member super fund, NESS Super has the best financial interests of members as our core purpose. As such, the trustee's board accepts and will act on APRA's direction to amend the constitution and will appoint an additional independent director as soon as practicable," the fund said.

It comes as NESS Super prepares to reduce investment and administration fees, some by as much as 40%.

The fund is reducing investment fees and costs across almost all its options. For example, the investment fees for its MySuper fees will drop by 27.5%. The largest decrease will be seen on its Australian shares with a reduction of 39.13% while the Stable option will drop 7.41%. The cash option will remain as is at 0.08%.

The fund is also reducing administration fees for its pension members while also capping them for super members at $650 per year. In terms of the reductions, a pension member with a balance of $200,000 will see their fees drop from $578 per year to $327.80.

NESS Super is home 12,266 members, largely working in the electrical industries.

Read more: APRANESS SuperSuzanne Smith