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EISS Super answers tough questions

After a period of media scrutiny following its failure of the inaugural APRA performance test, EISS Super has faced a parliamentary committee, facing tough questions over the test result and its sponsorship deals.

Liberal MP Jason Falinski led the questioning, asking EISS chair Peter Tighe about its failure of the performance test.

The fund was one of 13 to fail the Your Future, Your Super (YFYS) performance test based on the performance of their MySuper options.

Tighe said EISS failed the test because halfway through the oversight period it changed its investment approach from a conservative one to a more balanced approach.

"As a fund that had an older membership with a more conservative view, our view around the MySuper product was to offer a product under our PDS that reflected a more conservative focus. We've probably paid the penalty for having that focus, but it is something we've amended in the last few years," he said.

The failing funds were AMG MySuper, ASGARD Employee MySuper, Australian Catholic Superannuation and Retirement Fund's LifeTime One, AvSuper Growth, BOC MySuper, Christian Super's My Ethical Super, Colonial First State's FirstChoice, Commonwealth Bank Group Super's Accumulate Plus Balanced, EISS Balanced, LUCRF Super's MySuper, Maritime Super's MySuper, BT Super MySuper and lastly, the Victorian Independent Schools Superannuation Fund's MySuper product.

Falinski then probed whether EISS has changed its approach to sponsorships. This line of questioning was in response to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reporting that EISS held "lavish" parties for staff and "wasted member money" on sponsoring sporting events and charities - claims made by ex-EISS staff.

Tighe said in response that the YFYS reforms had introduced some new restrictions on sponsorship from June this year - and EISS has complied with that.

"We've not moved forward with any sponsored grants in the community engagement program, but we are looking at the impacting effect of that legislation before we decide what our approach to sponsorship should be in the future," he said.

However, he added that the fund has not ceased any existing sponsorship deals.

The fund's chief executive Alex Hutchinson stepped down following the media reports on spending and the YFYS test results.

Hutchinson released a statement following his departure, in which he defended the fund's sponsorships and spending.

"It was the right time for me to resign from EISS Super but regrettably my decision was brought forward by a calculated smear campaign, which was targeting me and my family. The pressure on my family had become unbearable," he said.

"My family, like many Australian families, has always been involved with community-level organisations and it has been implied that their community involvement and service in some way led to a conflict of interest with sponsorships undertaken by EISS Super. This is untrue. All sponsorships and marketing activities were undertaken in a proper manner during my time as chief executive."

Shortly thereafter, chair Warren Mundy alongside directors Mike Roche, Juliet Dunworth and Thomas Costa departed the fund - with Tighe stepping up to replace Mundy.

Read more: EISSEISS SuperAPRAFutureAccumulate Plus BalancedAlex HutchinsonASGARD Employee MySuperAustralian Catholic SuperannuationAvSuper GrowthBOC MySuperBT Super MySuperChristian SuperColonial First StateCommonwealth Bank Group SuperFirstChoiceJason FalinskiPeter TigheWarren Mundy