APRA open to new powers forcing fund mergers

The prudential regulator would be open to a new power forcing super funds to merge as a way to fast-track moves to push small super funds out of the $3.3 trillion sector.

APRA’s deputy chair, Helen Rowell, said “regulators are always open to having more powers”, when asked whether the agency wanted the ability to force super funds to merge.

“But I think there’s also an expectation from government that we use the ones we’ve got to their fullest potential and that’s what we’re doing,” Rowell told The Australian Financial Review Super & Wealth Summit.

“I think we are using the powers that we have to their full potential and more aggressively than we have ever had in the past and we will keep pushing in that way.”

The regulator has previously described super funds with less than $30 billion in assets as uncompetitive and is actively pressuring small, underperforming super funds to merge.

Rowell also described the number of Australians that switched super funds as a result of the Morrison government’s super reforms as “relatively small” though said it was “more than we might have expected”.

Data released earlier in the month showed that just 7 per cent of Australians in failing super funds bothered switching accounts after the Morrison government introduced a superannuation performance test.

Rowell said the people in failing products were often disengaged and said that the numbers who had moved to a better fund was “not enough”.

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