On the warpath – financial regulator seeks to publish more super data

Understanding your superannuation fees and options may be about to get that much easier, with the industry regulator telling funds to publish more data than ever about products and investment options.

The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), which supervises the banking, insurance and superannuation sectors, wants increased transparency across the industry.

APRA executive board member Margaret Cole said the aim was to ‘encourage’ funds to provide as much of the new data as possible.

Read: Ex-partners no longer able to hide super easily

“The Superannuation Data Transformation sits at the heart of APRA’s agenda to use heightened transparency to lift industry performance and improve member outcomes,” she said.

APRA has also flagged plans to introduce datasets that will allow more sophisticated investors to access published statistics in an easy-to-digest format.

“Increasing the breadth, depth and consistency of the data we publish will help all stakeholders make better informed decisions by providing a more complete picture of the industry,” said Ms Cole.

Is that good news for ‘mum and dad’ investors?

That is certainly the intention. APRA says the new approach will better enable comparisons across complex fee and cost structures or insurance design. Ms Cole says that “as with the MySuper and Choice heatmaps and Your Future, Your Super performance test, we also expect the increased transparency to benefit members by making it even clearer who isn’t performing and urgently needs to improve or get out”.

Read: If you have less than this in super, you’re falling behind

The MySuper and Choice heatmaps are tools that measure the performance of superannuation product offerings.

Will your privacy be compromised by this increased transparency?

As part of its plans, APRA has outlined what will and will not be treated as confidential in a discussion paper that will remain open until 15 April. It says that it expects to issue final determinations around confidentiality in June and issue its first publication shortly after.

Ms Cole said that while confidentiality needs to be respected, “increasing the breadth, depth and consistency of the data we publish will help all stakeholders make better informed decisions by providing a more complete picture of the industry”.

Read: Is the sky falling? Big drop in super fund returns in January

APRA’s announcement of its intentions comes hot on the heels of revelations that the government has left the door open to giving the regulator the power to force super funds to merge to drive further consolidation in the $3.4 trillion superannuation sector, a concept close to Ms Coles’ heart.

Last week, she told the Australian Financial Review that giving the agency the ability to compel super funds to merge was at the “top of my list” when it came to the additional powers she wanted for the regulator.

She stressed that there were no “active discussions” about broadening the agency’s powers and that APRA uses “the tools we have to try and nudge those along and get things done”.

The lack of transparency of fund fees has long been a bugbear for members. Just last week, the Federal Court ordered an industry fund to pay a $20 million penalty for charging more than 25,000 customers fees for advice services it didn’t provide.

Do you support APRA’s intentions? Do you have any concerns about data privacy? Do you find fees complex? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

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Written by Andrew Gigacz

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