APRA to commence publication of detailed Superannuation costs & spending data

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

A big change for the massive superannuation industry from August with APRA, the key regulator starting the publication of intimate details of their costs and spending at a level far more granular than ever seen before.

Increased costs transparency from super funds - industry and private - has been demanded for some years and now the regulator will start publishing information on costs, sports and other sponsorship, political donations as well as more granular information on investment types.

It is certain to cause controversy and also see business media types publish lists of the top investors, sponsors, political donors and the like.

APRA’s decision will turn out to be one of the most far reaching for Australian markets and investors, given that the super industry controls - all up around $US3.5 trillion in various types of investments.

APRA said Wednesday late that the move followed consultation with the super industry last year and will see "increase transparency in superannuation by publishing new data on how members’ funds are being spent and invested by trustees.”

As a result (APRA already collects the data) the new expenditure data to be published from August will see the breakdown of expenses for the whole industry, and for each fund, by more detailed categories including administration, advice, member services, marketing, trustee board (including director remuneration), and other corporate overheads (such as travel and entertainment).

As well, the new data will include the recipients of payments made by each fund to industrial bodies and related parties, in relation to promotion, marketing or sponsorship expenses and any political donations.

APRA said it will also publish further details on the type of investments the industry holds in relation to property and infrastructure, alternative strategy funds, listed equity and private equity.

APRA Deputy Chair Margaret Cole said in Wednesday's statement “The new data will shed further light on how trustees are spending and investing the funds entrusted to them by members.

“I am pleased to acknowledge that the industry has been broadly supportive of APRA’s proposals to provide greater transparency on the use of member funds.

“Through our Superannuation Data Transformation project, APRA will continue to expand the breadth, depth and quality of our data on superannuation, and to publish as much of this data as possible.”

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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