In an interview posted on the APRA website, the regulator’s new member for super Margaret Cole said the reforms would provide “an important new platform from which APRA can pursue and enforce better standards of performance and accountability in superannuation”.
“Given the importance of super to people’s futures, there’s nothing more critical than making sure we’re doing a great job,” Ms Cole said.
“The new Your Future, Your Super reforms take things to another level. And it’s hugely important that APRA uses the full set of tools and powers that it now has available to it to get the best for members.”
Ms Cole, who was a managing director at the UK’s Financial Services Authority, said while APRA had traditionally been thought of as strictly a prudential regulator, enforcement was an available tool it should not discount.
“APRA has a range of enforcement tools that can, and should, be used where it’s justified. APRA undertook an Enforcement Review a couple of years ago that emphasised that very point – that enforcement powers are an important part of a supervisor’s toolkit,” she said.
“So I hope I can use my past experience to further strengthen that mindset, and in doing so, make a real difference for superannuation members.”
While the FSA acted as conduct regulator in the UK, Ms Cole said she did not think her approach in working for the prudential regulator “needs to change too much”.
“Ultimately, both regulators are setting out to protect the public. The tools available to different regulators might vary, but the basic principles don’t vary too much – including that it’s better to avoid harm than try to clean up afterwards,” she said.
“My reputation is not only tough but fair, and I think my record shows I’m not afraid to take tricky things on. I do feel there’s an expectation on APRA to use its powers, and rightly so.”
With the onset of the new reforms, Ms Cole warned super funds could expect more “intrusive regulation and scrutiny” to a level commensurate with “the responsibilities they bear”.
“There are some huge super funds that play a critical role in the pillars of the retirement strategy of this country. It’s vital that funds are well-governed and intensely focused on financial outcomes for members,” she said.
“This matters to people’s lives now and in the future, so at APRA our focus will be on regulating to support this outcome.”