SPAA: Make clients aware of dodgy super adverts

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Choosing a super fund should be backed up by professional advice to avoid being misled by dodgy advertising, says the SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia (SPAA).

Media Super, an industry super fund for print, media, entertainment and arts professionals, was recently fined $10,200 by ASIC for producing potentially misleading advertisements.

It had produced a factsheet which compared the costs and benefits of self-managed super funds with the Media Super fund – which ASIC said was inaccurate.

Media Super has since defended itself on its website, saying the error was accidental, minor and ASIC "overreacted" by imposing a fine. 

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”.

However, SPAA Technical and Professional Standards director Graeme Colley said this should be a warning to super funds about what they say to the public about SMSFs.

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, he said.

“There are many factors to consider such as the stage of your working life, the level of engagement desired and the amount of retirement savings you have in superannuation.

“Why would you want to be a member of a fund that provides mainly pensions to members when you are in your 20s or 30s and have a long time to go before you retire?”

For people to make the appropriate choice they need to get objective and unbiased advice from someone who has a broad knowledge of superannuation as well as the ability to analyse the features of the various funds that will work in their situation, Colley said.

However, for advisers to perform well for their clients, Colley said it is crucial they are up to speed with FOFA changes, including the proposed amendments announced by the Treasury at the end of last year.

“The fact is superannuation legislation changes continually and trustees need to have advisers who are across what’s happening in the industry.
“At a time when the SMSF industry is growing apace and more advisers are entering the space, having accredited specialists has never been more critical.”

The government proposes to change the best interest duty to assist scaled advice and remove the two year opt-in requirement, among other amendments to the Labor-introduced legislation.

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