Speaking to InvestorDaily, Tim Wilson said the committee’s inquiry into the growing influence of mega funds on corporate ownership, which has been lambasted by the super industry as “political theatre”, would examine issues highlighted in the Intergenerational Report as Australia’s compulsory retirement savings system grew bigger over time.
“The Intergenerational Report outlines the increased size of funds and their relationship to things like the size of the Australian economy, not just super but investment funds as well,” Mr Wilson said.
“We will look at how regulators are responding to that, and do we need to change the laws to make sure we keep our economy open and democratic.”
While Mr Wilson said the inquiry was also supported by Labor members of the committee for its “focus on all sectors” of the investment industry, he made no apologies for his recent grilling of the industry fund sector in committee hearings on issues as wide-ranging as marketing expenditure, advice remediation and executive remuneration.
“All I’ve been told by industry funds is there’s nothing to see here, yet we’ve uncovered them engaging in conduct which has led to us having to change the law to address their behaviour and to ASIC now suing some funds,” he said.
“Whether they are retail or industry funds, if there is wrongdoing we will pursue it. They seem to not want that scrutiny, I think they would rather not have it but they’re not going to get away with it.”
With the corporate regulator being handed additional powers and taking a more proactive stance in relation to super enforcement, Mr Wilson said he expected ASIC – which is also answerable to the committee – to take an even-handed approach in investigating retail and industry funds.
“What I want is for ASIC to ensure that it is investigating misconduct wherever it occurs,” he said.
“We have had examples not just of ASIC but APRA ignoring issues because the dollar size is too trivial, where super funds have made [political] donations and APRA’s response has been ‘it’s a small amount of money, we are not going to investigate it’. We’ve seen examples on both sides of the ledger of fees for no service.
“We want the regulators to do their job, that means they can’t take super funds on their word that they’re there to achieve a certain objective. They shouldn’t be taking their marketing spin on face value.”