Superannuation funds called up to the financial services Royal Commission now have less than four weeks to prepare, as the fifth round commences on August 6 in Melbourne.
The fourth round of hearings, which focused on agricultural financing and interactions between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and financial services providers, wrapped up in Darwin last Friday.
Senior Counsel Assisting Rowena Orr said in her closing remarks that the next round will focus on the broader superannuation industry, but will delve further into the difficulties Indigenous people face when it comes to understanding and accessing superannuation.
It will also look at identification issues, conditions of early release and the difficulties associated with the release of death benefits.
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As a financial counsellor for Anglicare in the Northern Territory, Philip Bowden told the Commission that 80% of his time is spent helping clients deal with superannuation issues.
The non-profit group is working with the superannuation industry to advocate for changes and urging them "to look after their clients." Aboriginal people have issues with identification, thus accessing super or deceased estates becomes an issue, Bowden said.
The fourth round also heard about how life and funeral insurance providers mis-sold products to vulnerable members of remote communities, namely Select AFSL's sales practices following an ASIC investigation.
Select terminated its agreement to distribute and promote St Andrews funeral insurance products on 19 March 2018. During that period, St Andrews made a voluntary disclosure to ASIC about Select potentially mis-selling funeral insurance.
While Select maintains it did not engage in significant breaches or mis-sold products, it has however agreed to remediate affected customers.
Orr said Select did not voluntarily disclose its mis-selling of insurance to the Commission and breached the Corporations Act in numerous instances.
In Kathy Marika's case study, Orr summarised that Select breached the Act when call centre employees provided personal advice without proper authorisation; sold a product without expressly obtaining her consent; and overall engaged in unconscionable conduct.