Independence and the Governance of Superannuation Funds
35 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 15, 2016
The failure of the Federal government’s Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Trustee Governance) Bill 2015 to pass through the Senate in November 2015 means that the political spotlight has for the time being shifted away from the issue of independence on superannuation fund boards. This creates a valuable opportunity for further reflection on precisely what board member independence might offer the superannuation system.
This paper aims to contribute to that deliberation. It introduces a variety of seminal concepts drawn from independence theory, reviews the growing literature on pension fund governance and maps the ways in which the regulatory regime currently aims to promote cognitive independence on the part of superannuation fund board members. It uses that as a foundation for deriving a more sophisticated, nuanced and ultimately more compelling rationale for the imposition of structural independence on superannuation fund boards. That rationale encompasses both a desire for improved decision-making by superannuation fund boards and a recognition of the valuable role that structural independence can play in inspiring confidence in the system. This confidence, in turn, can contribute to the legitimacy of a system in which participation, as a result of the Superannuation Guarantee, is almost compulsory. A second, complementary paper will evaluate the practical issues associated with using structural regulation specifically to achieve cognitive independence on superannuation fund boards.
Keywords: Superannuation, Fund Management
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