Vast majority want default super funds to return profits to members

The vast majority of Australians, 91%, believe that default superannuation funds should return all profits to members. This is the finding of a poll by Essential Media, conducted for the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST).

AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck said the poll showed that the public wants a default superannuation system that values members, not shareholders.

“First and foremost, our default super fund system must ensure that members’ interests are protected,” said Ms Scheerlinck.

“This includes ensuring that members’ interests come ahead of any employer incentives offered by banks and other companies such as access to overdrafts or loans at cheaper rates.”

The release of the poll comes as the Productivity Commission is working on the final report on alternative ways to select default superannuation funds. This report is due to be given to the Government in August 2017.

“Changes to how default super funds are selected have the power to impact millions of super fund members – particularly women who are less likely to choose their fund.” said Ms Scheerlinck.

The same AIST-commissioned poll found that 56% of women choose their own super fund, compared to 67% of men.

The poll also found that 71% of those surveyed believe their employer should not be able to select a default superannuation fund that is associated with their bank, “as this may not necessarily be in the workers’ best interests”. Industry Super Australia has been raising concerns that banks are offering incentives to employers to get them to switch default funds.

“When it comes to trust and reputation, profit-to-member funds are miles ahead, but issues such as poor financial literacy and lack of confidence remain a challenge,” said Ms Scheerlinck.

“One in four people surveyed don’t know if they are in a default fund or not.”

According to AIST the polling also showed that the majority were unaware “that the default fund is agreed by employers and workers when setting wage and conditions under an enterprise/certified agreement,” though over half understood the idea of a default fund.

“We need to make sure that our default fund selection process is going to work for members, not just make money for shareholders somewhere,” said Ms Scheerlinck.

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