The head of the House economics committee has unearthed evidence that reveals a number of industry funds have undertaken advertising to align themselves with retail funds, and is demanding ASIC investigate after it handed down a penalty to BT for similar behaviour.
At a hearing of the committee on Wednesday, Liberal MP Tim Wilson questioned ASIC commissioner Danielle Press around the use of Google AdWords that related to the retail super sector by industry funds, which could potentially be construed as misleading to consumers.
“We have made a series of questions on notice to super funds who have refused to provide evidence of the AdWords they have purchased, and we have evidence of them committing that type of conduct that we expect ASIC to review,” Mr Wilson said.
Ms Press conceded that ASIC had issued a penalty notice of around $20,000 to BT in 2015 for misleading advertising, relating to its purchasing of AdWords including “industry super Australia”.
At the time, the regulator said such advertising could mislead consumers into thinking BT was affiliated with the industry fund sector.
Documentation received by Mr Wilson and seen by ifa reveals both Hesta and Australian Super have previously purchased AdWords based on the search terms “retail super transfer”.
Mr Wilson, who heads the House standing committee on economics, told ifa that “until [the committee] started asking questions a few months ago” the two funds had been running advertising based on these search terms, “and many industry funds have refused to answer questions on notice on these matters”.
Responding to further questions from Mr Wilson around the matter in the committee hearing, Ms Press said she was “not aware” of the funds using advertising terms relating to retail super.
“We would certainly look at that if we were provided with evidence of misleading advertising,” she said.
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