Former NULIS chair faces Royal Commission

The former chair of NAB's superannuation entities has denied MLC tried to bill other services in order to claim advice fees.

Nicole Smith was the NULIS Nominees chair from 2013 to 2018, and she faced the Royal Commission this afternoon as it resumed hearings on day two of the fifth round.

When MLC introduced its SWIFT package of adviser fee changes in 2012, it went through the board under Smith's watch.

Smith said her understanding of the fee changes was that advisers would only be paid a fee for an agreed service if they provided it.

"Was it your understanding that the amounts that had been paid to the advisers for commission would now be wrapped up in a single fee for service and then... to receive the revenue for fee for service you had to provide a service," senior counsel assisting Michael Hodge quizzed.

"And you weren't anticipating that, for example, MLC would provide some different service and then claim the fee for itself?" he asked later in the same line of questioning.

Smith denied Hodge's allegation.

She also said she did not recall it being raised at a director level whether the adviser contribution fee would need to be repaid if there was no adviser linked to the account.

Smith also said she did not recall the looming FoFA changes as a primary or in-part motivation for the new fee structure.

Two key fees under the new plan were: an adviser contribution fee (which was a name for contribution fee) and a planned service fee.

The contribution fee referred to commission while the PSF referred to a general advice fee.

"To be honest, I haven't actually considered the legal construct of [the] contribution fee as to whether it is a fee for service or whether it's a commission that is grandfathered. I don't recall from 2012 what my consideration was in respect to the contribution fee," she said.

Earlier in the day Hodge questioned former NAB general manager of superannuation and platforms Paul Carter, questioning whether the group looked for any possible way it could avoid refunding customers the plan service fees it wrongly charged.

Carter disagreed. He then went on to explain that plan service fees did not constitute fees for no service.

Smith will continue in the witness box tomorrow morning. It is expected AustralianSuper chief executive Ian Silk will also front the Royal Commission tomorrow.

Read more: MLCRoyal CommissionNABMichael HodgeNicole SmithNULIS Nominees
Link to something xTWsbmJs