Chilling warning on end of good super returns

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An outgoing superannuation boss has warned that future funds will not be able to produce good returns for members as investment assets dry up.

In other news, at next month’s ALP national conference, a number of unions will call for banks to be locked out of the $2.7 trillion super sector, and some industry super funds are preparing to vote against bank executive bonuses following a shredding of shareholder value in the wake of the banking royal commission.

Industry Super Australia chairman Peter Collins, who will be replaced by former Labor minister Greg Combet next week, said yesterday that so much money is gushing into super funds “that the investible products going onto the Australian market just can’t keep up”.

“Ultimately, we will run out of projects to invest in. How close we are to that point depends on the will and timetable that state governments give themselves (for launching infrastructure projects),” he was reported as saying in the Australian Financial Review.

Claiming that the search for new assets was “urgent”, Mr Collins threw down the gauntlet to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to support ‘asset recycling’ within super funds if he wins the next election.

This would allow the non-profit, $632 billion industry fund sector, which is run by unions and employers, to invest in government-led infrastructure projects.

“Instead of the old prejudices – Labor wary of asset recycling, Liberals distrustful of any union link – the exceptional offer staring all Australian governments in the face must be taken up to overcome our infrastructure deficit,” Mr Collins said.

“Ideology and old beliefs – not founded in fact – are holding us back. The time is long overdue for governments and super funds to sit down regularly and to talk pragmatically about infrastructure investment.”

Asset recycling allows governments to lease existing infrastructure to private investors, thereby creating cash flows for new projects to be built. Mr Collins wants all governments to consider allowing non-profit super funds to join these schemes.

In another development, industry super funds are getting ready to challenge the hefty bonuses earned by senior banking executives in the wake of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry revelations.

Today is the last day of the royal commission public hearings, which began on 13 March. Commissioner Kenneth Hayne has presided over seven rounds of hearings. He and his assistants have grilled executives from the largest financial institutions in the nation, to uncover evidence of activity that has preferenced the interests of the companies above their clients. A final report is due on 1 February 2019.

As a result of the misconduct that has come to light, industry super funds are said to be concerned at the decline in shareholder value and returns for their members.

Australian Super, which has $8 billion invested in the big four banks and Macquarie, is considering voting against the remuneration reports of Westpac, NAB and ANZ at their upcoming annual general meetings (AGM), according to the Australian Financial Review.

Other big industry funds, including UniSuper, Cbus and Hostplus, are also understood to be unhappy, believing the Commonwealth Bank’s example of paying no bonuses over the past year should have been followed by the other banks, the AFR reported.

Many of the industry funds are guided by the Australian Council for Superannuation Investors, which is understood to favour voting against all three remuneration reports.

In his evidence to the royal commission on Tuesday, NAB chairman Ken Henry conceded the bank was facing a possible ‘first strike’ against its remuneration report at the 19 December AGM.

A first strike is when 25 per cent of shareholders reject a remuneration report. If a second strike follows at the next AGM, the bank’s board could be forced to spill under Australian Securities Exchange listing rules.

NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn’s most recent bonuses amounted to $2.1 million, in addition to a base salary of $2.3 million and $500,000 in dividends. The payment was made after the royal commission exposed the bank’s strategy of charging fees for no service and other misconduct.

Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer received $2.2 million in bonuses last financial year, pushing his total remuneration to $4.9 million.

ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott received a bonus of $1.7 million plus base pay of $2.1 million.

The Commonwealth Bank paid no bonuses in the most recent financial year after receiving a strike against its remuneration report in 2016, when nearly half of all the votes cast were against it.

Meanwhile, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) joined forces this month to call for regulations barring banks from running super funds.

“Our unions are forging an alliance at the coming ALP national conference to remove shareholder interests from superannuation entirely,” the unions’ national secretaries, Michael O’Connor (CFMEU) and Michael Kaine (TWU) said.

“Our cross factional alliance will push for ALP national policy to amend superannuation law. This would bring legal effect to a basic principle: in superannuation, you must have only one over-riding interest, the member.”

Do you believe that bank executives should forfeit their bonuses relative to the slide in value of bank shares? Should banks and other companies with shareholders be allowed to operate superannuation funds for the public? Do you agree that super should invest its members’ savings in infrastructure projects?

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Written by Olga Galacho

75 Comments

Total Comments: 75
  1. 0
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    “This would allow the non-profit, $632 billion industry fund sector, which is run by unions and employers, to invest in government-led infrastructure projects.”

    Has Greg Combet been living on another planet? It is the infrastructure investments which have boosted the returns of union run super funds.

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      Your dishonest propaganda never ceases Adrianus. You lie and lie and lie. Never ends.
      We both know that:

      1. Industry Funds outperform your Retail Funds by a country mile no matter how many times you say the opposite. This is now on the public record!
      2. union representation is in an oversight role so that your colleagues at the top end of town cannot milk funds. You also continually misrepresent “money being paid to unions” when these are small amounts to offset the basic wages of these people. Nothing like the rape of public money by the top end of town executives, the reason why Retail Funds are so poorly performing and to be avoided.

      Greg Combet was one of the most decent and caring guys I have ever seen in ANY political party and your comments are not appreciated.

      Your attempts to explain away why Industry Funds are slaughtering your Retail Funds is impotent, just like you. All funds invest in all manner of projects. Retail Funds can also do the same and they have underperformed for at least two decades so keep your right wing BS to yourself.

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      Yes. It’s the non profit bit that adds tens of thousands of dollars to members accounts rather than shareholders and manager’s bonuses.

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      Your comprehension is clearly lacking, Adrianus. The comment you have quoted is from the statements by Peter Collins (not Greg Combet) – just to remind you in case you wish to have it kept under the carpet, Peter Collins is a Liberal who was a Minister in the NSW Liberal Govt. There are no comments in the article from Greg Combet, so your comment is simply that of a crazy, right-winger attacking someone based on your bias without any substance.

      To re-iterate, “…a basic principle: in superannuation, you must have only one over-riding interest, the member.” Which means, only invest funds in superannuation where they bring the best returns for the members (which may or may not be in infrastructure). Which also means, NOT to allow returns to be reduced by giving control of funds to greedy CEOs etc in the private sector such as Banks.

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      I don’t really care who said it, it is a misleading statement. The facts remain, while economies have been in the doldrums with Superfunds scratching to make a decent result from property, shares and government securities, the cashflow of infrastructure has increased. Could this be a reason to spend $1b to cancel a contract? Or was the highway heading in the wrong direction?

      “…a basic principle: in superannuation, you must have only one over-riding interest, the member.”
      This is the dumbed down version to make some members feel important.
      The SIS act 1993 explains the sole purpose test as “..for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits to members, or to their dependants if a member dies before retirement.”

  2. 0
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    Be very cautious – this no more and no less than the unions and their mates continuing the push to make industry super funds a protected species – mainly for the benefit of thug ex union bosses.

    • 0
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      Another post from our government.

      The normal lies from a troll.

    • 0
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      Well thug ex union bosses or thug banking executives benefit one way or another. Industry Funds do tend to produce much better results so maybe the thug ex union bosses just aren’t as greedy as the thug bankers and their shareholders.

    • 0
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      The cost of union oversight is simply the wages they normally earn debited from the funds. When you think about the millions of dollars saved due to the top end of town being kept out of member’s funds this is worth it.
      Retail Funds are a free for all with the rich eating until they get indigestion. So the fund performance is abysmal. That’s what the cash for comment posters flog as being a good fund.

  3. 0
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    Mick these people just don’t get it,they just hate working people getting ahead just look at the Libs and their policy and that is why they are falling apart.They are that busy bashing unions they fail to see their own greed.

    • 0
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      Yes floss its all about control and milking anything they can because the top end of town is a club which works together to divide society into the haves and have nots.

    • 0
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      The only club stealing from taxpayers are the unions

    • 0
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      Yes the Unions and all those corporate government sponsored privateers milking billions from the revenue base. Unions used to do it but now it’s the multinationals and boy they could give unions a lesson in how to hoover up tax dollars without actually providing much in the way of goods or services.

    • 0
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      Unions were petty thieves at best.
      Nobody beats the top end of town for fraud and theft….the Bottom of the Harbour Tax Avoidance Scheme (not touched for many years), the superannuation Scheme (let run for decades) and now offshore tax shelters. This is a game where the top end keep getting free money and the rest of society pays with right wing government keeping the show running for their rich donors.
      Unions stealing? A comment from a troll with zero credibility.

    • 0
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      MICK, you speak of the top end of town being involved in fraud and theft and infer that the government is aiding and abetting them. Perhaps when you speak of fraud and theft you should name some names, not just throw wild accusations about. Names like Rex Jackson, Ian McDonald, Craig Thompson and Eddie Obeid. You haven’t mentioned paedophilia so I won’t throw in Milton Orkopolous. Your response will be absolutely predictable, a personal attack with a few epithets tossed in and no rebuttal.

    • 0
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      Your troll comments are so unoriginal. Morrison did this list a few days ago. Surely you could use an updated idiot sheet.
      Personal attack? Did you ever listen to Malcolm Turnbull talking about Shorten in the parliament. Now there was a personal attack.

      I’ll stick with the narrative. Tax cuts, the conversion of full time jobs into casual and part time jobs, the attacks on freedom and more Royal Commissions like the ones into unions and Shorten to come. Your employer is dead in the water. Write whatever BS you like but only your work colleagues will support you. Good luck.

    • 0
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      Great response old man. Pot, kettle, black.

  4. 0
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    Union funds want the government to gift them out toads , ports and other assets so they make easy money . Of course labor would support giving away taxpayer billions for these thugs to feather their nests
    In return union funds will funnel some money back to the labor party
    It’s a rort and it’s ILLEGAL – akin to money laundering

    • 0
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      And the top end of town don’t funnel funds to the Liberals, pull your head out of your rear facing orifice and open your eyes.

    • 0
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      This bloke’s an LNP troll Greg.
      Nothing he ever says adds up. No credibility.

    • 0
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      Too late for gifting as the LNP have pretty much sold everything not bolted down already and a lot that was bolted down. Has the Government bailed out the Port of Darwin Contract holders yet? Seems privateers are good at taking off with the profits but not so great at generating profits or providing services they signed up for.

      The Unions are dead so you’d better try again to find someone to blame other than the actual guilty wheeling dealers.

    • 0
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      OMG again – Mick the Marxist just rabbiting the same trash over an over again.
      Mick, do you think that the majority have any interest in or care about your ravings.

    • 0
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      Clearly your boss does Bludger. The truth hurts.

  5. 0
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    So the industry superannuation funds anticipate a dearth of suitable investment
    opportunities. Doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a variety of potential
    investment possibilities but obviously this challenge is testing the experience and
    capabilities of those expected ( and paid ) to implement investment policies.

    If I was a member there would be cause for concern especially as there has been
    speculation of a looming financial crisis. Suggest that funds increase cash / liquid asset
    holdings. Increase holding in medium and long term government bonds rated AAA.
    As mentioned elsewhere selective investment in infrastructure projects should provide
    ongoing capital appreciation and income.
    So much for free advice to a sector of the superannuation industry that actively seeks
    to undermine the financial viability of other members, most notably the trustees of self
    managed funds.

  6. 0
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    I can’t see any good reason why a section of the finance industry should be precluded from participating in the superannuation industry. If the returns are not there, people will move to funds that are giving both a better return and a smaller fee structure. There is a danger of creating a monopoly if the unions get their way. If they are allowed to preclude one section, what will stop them from wiping out all other opposition?

    • 0
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      Couldn’t agree more – it seems this is the master plan of an unelectable union cadre,
      to be implemented by a disingenuous, duplicitous, group of Labor politicians.

    • 0
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      Tax cuts for the rich dear troll? Maybe a Royal Commission into Unions and another into Labor?
      Your normal one sided political post claiming disadvantage. One has to laugh.

    • 0
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      Why not sell the bridges and harbours and beaches and islands. Seems to be the LNP and neo-lib way. Just take taxpayer built assets and flog them off.

      Talking of monopolies I think the LNP have managed to create a few privately owned monopolies bleeding the people dry. The unions didn’t sell everything off. Nor sign stupid contracts with grifters and privateers that cost twice what the public service did.

      But you didn’t want Australian workers earning decent wages did you? Much rather overseas workers than an Australian unionist.

      When we finally hit third world status it will be the Union haters that made it happen.

    • 0
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      Both sides have done this Rae but the LNP have sold us out en masse without any thought of the future. They have no consideration other than their time in politics and are even happy to destitute their own descendants.
      A most disreputable, malicious and corrupt group of politicians who need to be jailed for their crimes against the state.

    • 0
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      Yes MICK Cubbie Station is now a dam and the Darling is running dry. The LNP have promised Adani free water for decades out of the Artesian Basin. My grandkids are washing in contaminated creek water and needing to buy water from Woolworths at excessive prices.
      They are even signing deals to protect foreign companies from carbon credits and put the cost back onto taxpayers.
      We will be paying for this Government for years to come.

    • 0
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      The ADANI Mine is a State LABOR concern. Although SHORTON has refused to state his position. BOTH LIB & LABOR have sold us down the drain.

  7. 0
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    Bet the boss’s wages and commissions don’t ‘dry up’….

    • 0
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      They never do. Just like NAB’s CEO pocketed a $2.1 million bonus near the end of the Royal Commission into banking. These blokes just laughed at the findings whilst publicly saying they can do better. Same deal as in previous encounters. The same crooked behaviour and milking of shareholder money always resumes.
      You are right!

    • 0
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      It’s quite alright for them to take off with people’s money because they don’t belong to a union just a Banker’s Association and that’s okay. It’s all the fault of the unions. must be. Couldn’t be greedy bosses. No never.

    • 0
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      Sounds like the blurbs from our cash for comment trolls Rae.
      I couldn’t agree more.

    • 0
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      Just want to add the all these CEOs that are paid million $ salaries & also receive million $ bonuses on top of their salaries are are also the greasy slimes (with the help of the government) fight the unions tooth & nail to prevent any pay rises for the rank & file.
      It would be fair if the government legislated that ALL wages & salaries move at the same % as CEOs & senior executives etc & any bonuses that they get trickle down to all employees at the same % rate.
      Bugger did I say trickle down, isn’t this the term all corporations & governments use to justify their huge tax cuts.

    • 0
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      Agree Rae, Mick & 1984…..why all normal (say “normal” as Pollies just aren’t normal imho) hard workers haven’t had even close to CPI pay increases for past few yrs whilst the “big end of town” ard racking in $millions in pay & bonuses – given b/c of ripping off we hard workers. Can’t believe that the Libs can’t see that – we need Unions more than ever.

    • 0
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      You might be right Loloften, but please explain why Union Membership has declined to Less Than 20% of the workforce.

  8. 0
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    According to the article by Edmund Tang, Australian Pension Assets Growth is among the World’s strongest. “Last year, Australia not only became the world’s fourth-largest pension (locally called ‘superannuation’) market valued at US$1.9 trillion but also experienced one of the highest growth rates of pension fund assets in the world, according to the Willis Towers Watson Global Pensions Asset Study – 2018[1]. The latest figure for Australia’s pension assets represented a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around six percent between 2007 and 2017 (in US$ terms)[2]. This rate was well above the global average of four percent over the same period”.

    According to the Superannuation Statistics, the Australian Superannuation totaled assets has amassed to $2.7 trillion in 2018, ranking the fourth largest superannuation in the world.

    It is incredible, the fourth-largest superannuation fund in the world runs out of investment vehicles to provide a reasonable return to the superannuants. If this is the case, why on earth are we paying such a high percentage of fees in investing our superannuation investment. We are paying these fees irrespective of any rates of return to our investment. Are we, the superannuants, being captive of the monopoly over this investment market. Who are the wholesalers of this superannuation industry? Are they the faceless entities without accountabilities, if this article is true, ‘An outgoing superannuation boss has warned that future funds will not be able to produce good returns for members as investment assets dry up? How can this position be justified in terms of our total assets standing in the world?

    There are two types of superannuation funds: one is the retail funds, which are managed by banks and private enterprises, like AMP; and another by industry funds, which are managed by a particular industry or professions. Apparently, we pay different fees to each of these types of funds, for the retail funds, we pay an average 1.73% of the balance of the account. If an account has $50,000.00, the fee will be $865.00. In an industry fund, based on a $50,000.00 account, one pays $330.00 and $78 in administration fees regardless of the balance, plus $55 per year. This comes to $463.00 p.a. An account of $50,000.00 in an industry fund pay $402.00 less than a retail fund’s account of the same $50,000.00. If the account in the retail fund doesn’t give a reasonable return, the fees will eat up the capital of the superannuation fund over time.

    Based on the above-mentioned position, what is the outgoing superannuation boss is telling us? What is Greg Comet going to do about it? This matter is too serious to make an off-the-cuff comment.

    • 0
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      Clarification: Industry Funds pay less fees because the union representation on the Boards is to keep the bastards from thrusting their greedy snouts into the management feeding trough. Retail Funds have a whole pile of top end of town management carving up your money. For the record union representatives are only paid their union paid weekly salary for attending the Fund meetings and they do not manage to my understanding. They only keep an oversight on the process to ensure that the money does not start disappearing into the accounts of management.

      Combet is an ex Labor MP. He always appeared to be the real McCoy and I hold no reservations hiring this man. If he were leader instead of Shorten I’d be more confident that the country was headed in the right direction. Having said that we’ll have to give Shorten the benefit of the doubt. As long as he remembers he is not ‘immortal’ and works for the country then he’ll likely do an ok job…..but then who could do a worse job than the last 3 clowns handing our money to the richest amongst us.

  9. 0
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    Can’t wait for a return to the good old days – Union only shops.
    Can you imagine how the wages negotiation would go between a company which is owned by a union controlled superfund and the union rep. on the shop floor would end .

    Union rep – we want $30
    Company management – no, no, we want to give you $60

    UR – but we only want $30
    CM – ok $90 is our final offer.
    and it keeps going

    And that folks is where the bottomless money pit came from.

    • 0
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      Funny.
      As much as unions have done some bad things in the past people need to consider if the results since unions were all but shut down are worth it: low wages, no cost of living increases which actually keep pace with the cost of living, full time jobs (where they exist) turned into part time and casual jobs and enterprise agreements which started off well but are now simply bits of paper offering the next degraded job offer.
      BRING BACK UNIONS. Honest ones. The bosses club is corrupt and our emerging 2 Class society is a direct result of employers holding all of the cards. Just imagine what the bastards will do when robotics arrives. Buy your tent before the rush starts!

    • 0
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      You have to ask why unions have all but disappeared, MICK. Australia is a free country and every worker has the choice to join or reject a union and it seems that 87% of workers want to reject them. When I was first starting out after leaving school, unions had 78% of workers as members. I was in a union all of my working life but my unions of choice were never what could be described as militant. All workers wanted back then was a safe workplace and to ensure that the right amount of pay was made for their toil.

      Unions got too cocky and started demanding too much. Unions demanded to see balance sheets and were prepared to go on strike to try and make the bosses share up a part of their profits. Fringe benefits were argued that had nothing to do with a normal workplace. When the Entertainment Centre was built in Sydney, the unions demanded that the workers get paid for a Chinese lunch every Friday as the claim was that the cooking smells from Chinatown was overpowering.

      The downfall of unions started with the court ruling that it was no longer compulsory to be in a union to gain entry to a worksite. ( I note that all Labor politicians have to be a member of a union or they can’t be preselected and that is illegal ) Union membership dropped below 40% and the world didn’t fall apart. Pay rises kept coming and working conditions didn’t suffer. The next problem for the unions was when they took an employer to court because he wouldn’t forward union fees out of a worker’s pay but told the worker that it was his responsibility. The union lost and we now have about 13% union membership.

      It could be argued that unions in the past employed bully boy tactics and forced workers to join and maintain membership of a union but when workers were allowed a free choice that they left in their thousands. It also seems that a lot of workers are too lazy to pay their union fees and have chosen to let membership lapse as it’s just too much trouble. You see, MICK, none of this involved any government attacking unions, it appears that the unions became so powerful that they thought that they could do as they wished. I agree that unions have a place but not the old style unions of which the CFMMEU is typical.

    • 0
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      Unions started to sell out to the right so members left.

      Bully boy tactics? Have you ever listened to your side of parliament in the past 6 years. Not only bully boys of th eost dishonest and obscene kind but aided and abetted by the media interests of the wealthy to crush Labor. And then there were the disgraceful political attacks called the Royal Commissions into unions and then Shorten…….which turned up zip. How strange.

      You may hate unions but employers steal billions from the public purse and nobody ever cares. So strange.

    • 0
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      From the Guardian : The mining union says there is no need for Labor to toughen its stance on the controversial Adani coalmine, warning there is no point in winning the Melbourne seat of Batman while losing seats in central Queensland.

      The CFMEU’s national president, Tony Maher, told Guardian Australia if federal Labor took the hardline stance against the Adani coal project it was currently telegraphing, promising to stop the mine if it won the next election, then “what do you do with the next [coalmine], and the next one, and the one after that?”
      It’s all about Politics, LABOR controlled by the Unions and LNP by the big end of town.
      VOTE Independents.

  10. 0
    0

    I am so glad I don’t have any super in those industry funds. I can see some big negative returns coming.

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