Even as the Federal Government seeks to wind down the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) amid concerns about inefficiency and unnecessary expenditure, the tribunal’s annual report shows it has improved its effectiveness at responding to complaints.
The SCT Annual Report for 2016/17 shows that the tribunal proved more effective in its resolution of disputes than it had the previous year, even though it faced increased demand on its resources. This comes as the Federal Government plans to replace the SCT with a single dispute resolution body covering the financial services industry, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
The tribunal handled 17 per cent more complaints and complex enquiries in 2016/17 than it did in 2015/16, with an expenditure increase of just three per cent.
Staff numbers also shrunk as compared to the previous year, suggesting greater efficiency from employees.
While staff members at the end of the financial year have increased in the past year, the average number of staff through the year decreased.
At 30 June 2016 the SCT had 32 staff members. The average number of staff during the year preceding that, though, was 35. In contrast, while staff numbers at 30 June 2017 was higher at 35, the average number of staff from 2016-17 was 32.
SCT chair, Helen Davis, believes that improvements to staff structuring has improved effectiveness across the Tribunal.
“The appointment and reappointment of 15 tribunal members in December 2016 increased our capacity to undertake reviews, supporting an increase in the number of determinations issued,” she said.
A redesign of the complaints resolution teams and processes also allowed “specialist skills to flourish and further improve responsiveness,” Davis said.
The superannuation industry has expressed consternation at the Tribunal’s impending closure. Money Management has also found that a one stop dispute resolution body such as the FCA may result in higher costs for financial planning firms.
While the government committed to its intention to replace the SCT with the FCA in this year’s budget, the Australian Labor Party is trying to ensure its continuation.