Media Super labels ASIC fine ‘over-reaction’

Media Super has said its error in cautioning members about the potential costs and risks of SMSFs was minor and that imposing a financial penalty was an “over-reaction”.

ASIC announced this week that it had fined Media Super $10,200 following concerns that a fact sheet sent to members inaccurately represented the costs and benefits of Media Super funds when compared to SMSFs.

In a statement on its website, Media Super said the error was accidental and ASIC’s response in imposing a financial penalty was an “over-reaction”.

Media Super stated there were no complaints about the fact sheet and “no apparent loss to any member arising from reading the fact sheet”.

Media Super also stated the error was minor and an “accidental omission of a component of Media Super’s fees”, which was corrected immediately after being identified.

“Media Super is vigilant in ensuring that it meets all of its regulatory obligations. Media Super is equally vigilant in cautioning members about the potential costs and risks of self-managed super funds, and will continue to do so,” the industry fund said.

However, Quantum Financial’s Tim Mackay told SMSF Adviser a $10,200 fine for a large institution is a “drop in the ocean”.

“I don’t think it really sends the right message to the institution itself and to the rest of the market… there needs to be [more of] a rap over the knuckles than that in my opinion,” Mr Mackay said.

The regulations that determine maximum fines should potentially be readdressed, he continued, with $10,200 being the maximum penalty that can be issued by ASIC to a corporation for an infringement notice.

The SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia (SPAA) also joined the debate, saying the penalty represents a “warning shot” to APRA-regulated funds about their public commentary on SMSFs.

SPAA’s Graeme Colley said making comparisons between different superannuation sectors is an “apples and oranges approach”.

“SPAA’s position is that 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,” Mr Colley said.

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