As part of the SuperStream reforms, the superannuation industry has to implement new data and e-commerce standards. However, there were concerns that the use of different gateway providers could prevent a streamlining of these communications.
The Gateway Interoperability Standards is an agreement with the major gateway providers and industry bodies to prevent this from occurring.
“Interoperability is a buzzword we are hearing a lot right now,” said managing director Shannon Sweeney of Calastone Australia. “There’s so much jargon around it, but what it really means is that funds need to communicate between themselves more effectively and efficiently,” she added.
Calastone, one of the gateway operators, worked with the Affiliation of Superannuation Practitioners and industry bodies to develop the new, more streamlined standards.
“The Gateway Project is a major achievement that the industry has brought about by working together, which is ultimately a fantastic result for everyone with an APRA super fund using the Gateway Operators services – which is a huge percentage of Australian superannuation,” Ms Sweeney said.
Calastone will help other providers to remove many of the manual and paper processes from super funds.
“Compared to pension funds in the UK and Europe, Australian super fund processing is still intensively manual,” Ms Sweeney pointed out, adding, “[The] reliance on the fax machine and paper is still high, bringing with it high costs, slow turnaround and the risk of human error.”
The SuperStream reforms, which have to be implemented by 1 July 2014, are a comprehensive package designed to enhance the ‘back office’ of superannuation.
“SuperStream is, of course, painful in some respects for super funds,” said Ms Sweeney, but added, “It’s also an opportunity for trustees to establish how they will remain relevant and provide competitive products to their members, who will have improved knowledge and tools to actively engage in the management of their superannuation and investment strategies.”