A number of the major industry funds have revealed the extent to which they engage consultants on issues such as communications and governance, but declined to say how much they cost.
The big four banks were recently savaged by the standing committee on economics for spending huge sums on consultants from Australia’s largest auditing firms while moving at a glacial pace on remediation – but as attention now turns to superannuation, a number of industry funds have refused to divulge how big their consulting bill is.
Rest engages Sefiani Communications Group to develop its corporate communications, along with Insight Strategy, which provides advice on policy initiatives and issues before Parliament, as well as Hinton & Associates for “limited consulting support” from December 2019. But when quizzed on how much it had spent, the fund stayed mum.
“Rest engages experts as required to assist with effective communication, where it is more cost effective or provides access to expertise that is not available internally,” Rest said in answers to questions on notice from the standing committee on economics.
“The rates and fees are commercial-in-confidence between Rest and the companies providing consulting services.”
Meanwhile, Cbus employs one senior policy adviser but engages more than 15 organisations – including Sustainalytics, CGI Glass Lewis, MSCI, and a host of industry superannuation bodies – with a view to “improving member outcomes”.
“Cbus has secured competitive commercial arrangements with many of these bodies,” the fund said.
“The value of individual contracts are confidential and commercially sensitive.”
Fellow industry fund Hostplus engaged one consultant – Mountain Media – along with the Association of Super Funds of Australia (ASFA) and the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST).
“It is also more cost effective for Hostplus to retain the above external consultants to undertake these services, than if Hostplus was to internalise these functions,” Hostplus said.
“Any advocacy and communication services are regularly reviewed to ensure they are providing value for money and delivering desired outcomes for members.”
The matter of consulting spend could soon fall under the Your Future, Your Super reforms, which would see funds required to prove that there was a “reasonable basis” to support their actions being consistent with the best interests of members.
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