Solving super disputes

Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.
Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.

ONE of the most understated measures in the Federal Budget was – perhaps not surprisingly – the Government’s proposal to provide the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal with another $5.9 million in funding over four years.

An amount of under $6 million may seem rather small when some Budget measures involve billions of dollars.

However, the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal is highly significant in many people’s lives as it meets its statutory responsibilities to try to resolve superannuation complaints fairly, economically, informally and quickly.

As the Budget papers note, the tribunal’s workload has increased by 30 per cent over the past six years. And that workload can be expected to keep increasingly at an even faster pace.

Disputes over superannuation death benefits currently rank only second to complaints about fund administration in matters currently before the tribunal. And with the rapid ageing of the population, disputes over super death benefits will only accelerate.

Further, the Cooper superannuation review’s preliminary self managed super fund (SMSF) report recommends that the tribunal’s jurisdiction be extended to include death-benefit disputes involving SMSFs and a beneficiary who is not a member of the fund. (Under existing law, the tribunal’s powers do not extend to SMSFs)

If the Government accepts this recommendation from Cooper’s preliminary report, this will obviously increase the tribunal’s workload – particularly given the ageing of the population.

It would be difficult to overstate the significance of the tribunal’s role.

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Robin Bowerman, Vanguard Investments Australia's Head of Retail, has more than two decades of experience in the finance industry as a writer, commentator and editor.

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