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AustralianSuper PYS fee under scrutiny again

ASIC has been questioned over whether it should have intervened when AustralianSuper introduced a new fee named after the Protecting Your Super legislation.

In January AustralianSuper increased its admin fee, saying that from April 1 members would start paying the 'Administration fee - Protecting Your Super' to cover the cost of the fund complying with new legislation.

At the Senate Parliamentary Joint Committee, Corporations and Financial Services Senator Andrew Bragg asked ASIC commissioner Danielle Press how ASIC's review into member communication about the fee increase.

Bragg said the member communications indicated that legislative reform, designed to produce better outcomes for super fund members, was causing a fee increase.

"The Federal Parliament had passed laws around insurance and some other matters, effectively designed to reduce fees for members and this fund was saying they were going to increase fees," Bragg said.

"How is that review that you're conducting into AustralianSuper's misleading disclosures going?"

Press said that although ASIC engaged with AustralianSuper on the matter the regulator found that the fund had not breached its obligations under the Corporations Act.

"We look at whether or not the fees and costs have been disclosed in accordance with the Corporations Act, we did seek further information from AustralianSuper about the fee increase and the way they provided their disclosure to members," Press said.

Despite no further action being appropriate, ASIC did suggest that AustralianSuper might like to make its disclosure to members "clearer" in relation to why the fee increase was necessary - this resulted in a second disclosure to members from the fund.

Bragg also took aim at Hostplus during the hearing, asking how funds decide to spend reserves. He asked about how Hostplus disclosed to members that it had used funds to pay a fine imposed by ASIC.

In May last year, Hostplus was fined $12,600 for claims about independent financial advice that ASIC said were misleading.

Press said Hostplus disclosed the matter in an annual statement to all members, to which Bragg said that seemed like a "better method" than sending a press release.

Bragg then asked about the report ASIC was undertaking following the Royal Commission on "inducements" and how super funds entice businesses to choose them as a default fund for employees.

"There has been law reform around inducements and we have been discussing with funds what those law reforms mean and we have been overseeing that to make sure no funds are breaching that new legislation," Press said.

"The Hostplus clause, I think we call it," Bragg laughed.

Read more: ASICAustralianSuperHostplusAndrew BraggDanielle Press
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