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Media Super fine a 'warning shot'

The infringement penalty imposed by ASIC on industry fund Media Super demonstrates the importance of professional superannuation advice services, according to SPAA.

On Monday, the corporate regulator issued a $10,200 fine to the industry super fund for potentially misleading advertising relating to SMSF comparisons, with ASIC telling ifa that is the maximum penalty that can be imposed without taking legal action.

Reflecting on the case, SMSF Professionals’ Association director, technical and professional standards, Graeme Colley said it suggests comparisons between APRA-regulated funds and the self-managed sector is akin to an “apples and oranges approach”.

“The right superannuation fund depends on a person’s circumstances, and the best way to determine which fund is the most beneficial is to get professional advice,” he said in a statement.

“There are many factors to consider such as the stage of your working life, the level of engagement desired and the amount of retirement savings you have in superannuation.

“Some funds may limit membership while others may provide a range of benefits in excess of what you want.”
Meanwhile, a number of ifa readers also responded to the case, with one commenter asking the legitimate question of “where does the fine get paid from?”, alluding to the ostensibly not-for-profit nature of industry funds.

Another commenter made the observation that “if the shoe was on the other foot and a financial planner produced misleading materials they would have been publicly names and shamed, dragged through the courts and fined the maximum”.

In 2013 ASIC completed 63 investigations into financial services firms, resulting in 9 criminal convictions, 13 civil findings and 28 administrative remedies.