ASIC doubles down on super enforcement action

15 November 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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ASIC has identified superannuation as an area where it is taking stronger enforcement action, according to its latest update.

The report, which covered activity during Q3 2023, said this is part of its focus on ensuring good member outcomes in the super sector.

This includes acting on misconduct in superannuation as well as misleading conduct in relation to sustainable finance including greenwashing. 

This has included action against Vanguard for greenwashing, Active Super for greenwashing and AustralianSuper over multiple superannuation accounts.  

ASIC chair Joe Longo said: “The July to September quarter saw ASIC achieve strong results in court and file significant matters that go toward our ongoing work to protect consumers.

“Our focus on the best interests of members in the superannuation sector is part of our continuing work to make the financial system fair for all Australians.”

Regarding the Vanguard action and why it sought to act, the report said: “ASIC claims the screening and research undertaken by Vanguard to exclude bond issuers with significant business activities in certain industries was more limited than that being promised to investors. 

“We allege Vanguard made false and misleading statements, and as such engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public about its ethically conscious screening. We consider this to constitute greenwashing.”

On AustralianSuper, the regulator alleges AustralianSuper failed to put in place adequate policies and procedures to identify members who held multiple AustralianSuper accounts and to merge those accounts when this was in the members’ best interests. AustralianSuper then continued to charge multiple sets of fees and insurance premiums to these members.”

Since the end of the third quarter, ASIC has also taken action against the trustee of HESTA for misleading performance figures on its marketing material.

The fund has paid $48,600 to comply with the notices that focus on statements about its ‘Balanced Growth’ investment option and 10-year performance figures shared on HESTA’s Facebook and Instagram and in a webinar published on its website.

ASIC said the statements referenced 10-year performance figures of the Balanced Growth option, but did not note the period the figures related to.

It alleged these statements may have misled consumers into believing the performance figures used were up to the present day, when the 10-year period used by HESTA to calculate those figures had ended between five and 14 months prior to publication.
 

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