While industry funds emerged largely unscathed from the Hayne Royal Commission, it is more critical than ever for not-for-profit funds to be exemplary in terms of practices and performance.
This was a key message at this year's Conference of Major Super Funds (CMSF), which kicked off at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday.
Welcoming about 1000 delegates representing over 50 super funds, Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said the post-Royal Commission world presents a real opportunity for NFP funds to educate the wider public about their benefits and the difference they bring to members' retirement.
Citing APRA figures, Scheerlinck said $11 billion flowed out of retail funds during 2018, while profit-to-member funds received record inflows.
It wasn't just members who made the switch, employers did too.
"Outraged at some of the behaviour and practices uncovered by the Royal Commission they decided to change their employees' default fund to one that puts members' interests first. The Royal Commission has increased awareness and led to action," she said.
The hearings, which called out practices that potentially mount to misconduct and failed to meet community expectations, were not referred to the regulator for further investigation.
Scheerlinck said this move by Commissioner Kenneth Hayne shouldn't be dismissed as it ultimately shone a light on areas for improvement.
"All of us need to be aware the practices that became ingrained and common in large for-profit institutions, if unwatched, could be replicated in our sector over time."
Given the media hype and evidence that came out of the hearings, she pointed out many anticipated tougher recommendations, prosecution and further investigation, as well as the naming and shaming of some entities.
When that did not eventuate, it left many feeling "deflated" and was an "anti-climax."
Scheerlinck said she respects Hayne's reasoning and sees substance in the 76 recommendations, which will have ramifications for the industry - even though it may not seem so from the outset.