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- Total superannuation assets up by nearly 10%
- Westpac offloads BT super to Mercer
- Spirit Super promises to do better following phishing incident
- Hostplus and Cbus win customer satisfaction awards
- Inflation hits retirees
- ATO surveys large super funds
- HESTA and Mercy Super announce intent to merge
- LGIAsuper rebrands as Brighter Super
- Vision Super and Active Super sign MoU
Total superannuation assets up by nearly 10%
Total superannuation assets in Australia rose by 9.7% to be $3.44 trillion at the end of March 2022, according to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s latest quarterly data for March.
That increase was partly attributable to strong investment performance and positive contributions growth on the back of Covid-19 stimulus. However, reflective of the volatility in markets since the beginning of the year, total superannuation assets in the March quarter were slightly down on the $3.47 trillion recorded for the December quarter.
“The March 2022 quarter reflects contributions beginning to revert to long-term trends and weaker investment performance due to concerns over higher interest rates with rising inflation exacerbated by constrained supply chains, and the uncertainty brought about by the conflict in Ukraine,” APRA said when releasing the data.
Contributions for the year ended March 2022 were up 16.9% to $141.6 billion, while employer contributions increased by 6.6% to $104.2 billion, of which $77.3 billion were superannuation guarantee contributions.
Member contributions were up by 60% to $37.4 billion, which can also be partly attributed to the increase in household savings during the lockdowns of 2021.
Westpac offloads BT super to Mercer
Westpac has entered a heads of agreement with Mercer to merge the $37.8 billion BT personal and corporate super funds with the Mercer Super Trust through a successor fund transfer. Westpac has also entered into an agreement to sell Advance Asset Management to Mercer.
The merger will create a $65 billion retail superannuation fund with over 850,000 members. The agreement also offers BT employees who supported the merging funds jobs at Mercer.
The announcement is a significant divestment of Westpac’s wealth management activities as it seeks to focus on banking, but the merger does not include superannuation held on Westpac’s BT Panorama and Asgard platforms.
“The Trustee engaged broadly across the industry and after a robust and competitive process this merger will create a larger superannuation fund with the potential to deliver improved performance, lower fees, and broader member services,” BT Super trustee chair Gai McGrath said when the merger was announced.
Spirit Super promises to do better following phishing incident
Spirit Super, the former merged MTAA Super and Tasplan, suffered a data breach in May when a staff member’s email account was compromised.
The personal member data that may have been compromised as a result included names, addresses, ages, email addresses, telephone numbers, member account numbers and member balances (as at 2019 and 2020).
There were also a small number of identification documents, bank account details and dates of birth found in the compromised data.
The breach was a result of a phishing error rather than a data breach and Spirt Super has said it will continue to invest in staff training, along with improved internal capability, technology and internal processes, to reduce the likelihood of future data breach events.
“In the immediate term, we will be communicating with all staff and providing guidance on enhanced measures when handling sensitive information, and taking extra precautions around multifactor authentication prompts,” Spirit Super said in a detailed FAQ for members about the breach on its website.
Hostplus and Cbus win customer satisfaction awards
Hostplus, winner of the major industry superannuation fund, and Cbus, winner of the industry superannuation fund category, were both first-time recipients.
OnePath won both the retail super fund of the year and the major retail super fund of the year category.
“Now in its tenth year, the Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Awards are about rewarding Australian businesses with the highest levels of customer satisfaction,” Roy Morgan chief executive officer Michele Levine said.
“Maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction over the last two years has been more important than ever for banking and finance companies dealing with stressed consumers worried about their financial situations.”
The awards are decided from Roy Morgan’s Single Source survey compiled from interviews with over 60,000 consumers across Australia. It is the world’s largest ongoing single source survey.
Inflation hits retirees
The annual percentage increases in what retirees need to spend annually to live a comfortable retirement were the largest since 2010, according to the latest ASFA Retirement Standard analysis for March 2022.
A couple aged around 65 needs to spend $65,445 per year to enjoy a comfortable retirement and singles need to spend $46,494, an increase of 1.0% and 1.2% respectively on the previous quarter.
However, over the year, those numbers were up by 4.2% for the comfortable couple budget and by 4.7% for the comfortable single budget.
‘While this is marginally smaller than the annual inflation impact of 5.1% for wage earners, the reality is that retirees are doing it tough too,” ASFA deputy chief executive officer Glen McCrea said.
“Retirees have faced significant price increases for non-discretionary items such as food, automotive fuel and health costs.”
The increase in the age pension over the year to March 2022 of 3.7% did not match the overall increase in prices for retirees, although Age Pensioners and Seniors Health Card holders benefitted from a $250 one-off payment in April 2022.
ATO surveys large super funds
The Australian Taxation Office’s annual survey of the large superannuation industry has found that the majority of superannuation funds (95%) are satisfied with the value they derive from the ATO’s consultation groups they attend and ATO participation at conferences and events was important to almost 90% of respondents.
But there were no comments from respondents to the survey to suggest the ATO should participate in more conferences.
Only half of respondents said that content on the ATO website was easy to find and five of the 76 respondents mentioned they would like the regulator to engage early ahead of changes.
The ATO said that at 76 the number of responses was “modest”.
“Next year, we look forward to hearing from more funds to give a fuller picture. We’ll work with our consultative groups to test for the optimal release time for the 2023 survey,” the ATO said.
“We extend our thanks to the funds who took the time to complete our survey, and we encourage more funds to participate next year.”
HESTA and Mercy Super announce intent to merge
The merger, which still needs due diligence to be completed by both parties and the execution of a Successor Fund Transfer Deed, will see HESTA’s fund boosted to $70 billion in funds under management and an addition of 13,000 Mercer Super members.
“I’d like to acknowledge the excellent service Mercy Super provides its members and the strong alignment we share through our focus on delivering better retirement outcomes for members and our dedication to serving the health sector,” HESTA chief executive officer Debby Blakey said.
HESTA and Mercer aim to complete the merger before the end of the year.
“In HESTA we have chosen a top-performing fund that shares our same commitment to the health sector and those working in it,” Mercy Super chief executive officer Wendy Tancred said.
LGIAsuper rebrands as Brighter Super
The recently merged LGIAsuper and Energy Super have decided on a new name – Brighter Super Group. The fund, which also includes the acquired Suncorp superannuation business (SPSL), says the new name is more representative of the legacy of its contributing superannuation funds.
“The investment in our new look and brand reflects the values of its legacy funds and their unwavering commitment to delivering world-class retirement outcomes for you, our members,” Brighter Super Group chief executive officer Kate Farrar said.
The Queensland-based Brighter Super manages approximately $31 billion for its 260,000 members. Farrer said that the fund would now expand nationally under the Brighter Super banner.
The new name was decided on after feedback was sought across many levels of the business. Member focus groups were also integral in the name-change decision.
Vision Super and Active Super sign MoU
Vision Super and Active Super have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore a potential merger, which would result in a $26 billion fund if it goes ahead.
Vision Super chair, Lisa Darmanin, said the two funds had many things in common, including similarly-sized funds under management, a history in local government and a shared commitment to responsible investment.
“Due diligence aims to tease out operating and investment synergies and to assess the potential for cost savings, improved services and further membership growth and identify any obstacles to a merger,” Darmanin said.
Active Super chair Kyle Loads said they hoped the merger would put all members in a better position to meet their retirement objectives.
“By exploring this potential merger, we have an opportunity to achieve additional scale, greater resources for services and growth, as well as potential lower costs and fees for members,” he said.