APRA examining super operational risk reserves
The thorny question of operation risk reserves for superannuation funds has been brought to the fore by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
The regulator has issued a discussion paper seeking information from superannuation funds on their plans to maintain the financial resilience necessary to protect members’ best interests.
Noting that APRA’s prudential standards require funds to maintain sufficient financial strength to operate their businesses effectively, including in cases of unexpected expenses such as systems upgrades, corporate restructures or paying fines, the regulator said it was seeking feedback on the use of operational risk requirements, reserving practices and protections afforded to funds via insurance.
The discussion paper outlines key principles for fee setting and design, informed by the law as it currently stands. As applications seeking judicial advice are still before the Courts, APRA notes that matters relating to the charging of trustee fees and management of financial resources are likely to continue to evolve over the coming months.
APRA Executive Board Member Margaret Cole said: “Australia’s superannuation system is served by a variety of business models that use a range of tools to bolster their financial position: from charging fees, to receiving an injection of capital or utilising fund reserves.
“What they all have in common is an obligation to make sure they have the resources, systems, processes and expertise to protect their members’ best financial interests at all times. This requires trustees to undertake sufficiently robust business and contingency planning to ensure they retain access to adequate financial resources, including when unexpected costs arise.
“In light of recent changes, we want to know more about how adequately resourced trustees are, how they are making financial projections in business planning practices, and what is their provisioning for contingencies. The imminent change to the law regarding the use of fund reserves to pay financial penalties will cause some trustees to rethink their current structures and approach. We are particularly keen to learn more, through this consultation, about how trustees are planning to change current practices,” Cole said.
Feedback on the issues covered in the discussion paper is welcome from all industry stakeholders. Submissions close on 11 March 2022.