Fund Product, Company and Regulatory Updates as at 31 July

Product Updates

Plum Super starts retirement product
Plum Super has launched Plum Retirement Income, an initiative designed to offer account-based pension to convert customer's superannuation into a steady income stream. 

New super product launched by fintech company
WealthO2 has launched Super Simplifier, a product that allows clients to invest in: 

  • the top 500 ASX-listed securities;
  • listed Australian shares;
  • exchange-traded funds (ETFs);
  • exchange-traded commodities;
  • hybrid securities and bonds;
  • listed investment companies (LICs);
  • real-estate investment trusts (REITs);
  • managed funds registered by ASIC; and
  • deposits with an Australian deposit-taking institution.

Company Updates

Retirement savings research centre launched
The Self-managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) Association will establish the Global Centre of Excellence for Retirement Savings to provide leadership for the retirement savings market. Based in Adelaide, the centre will cover a range of topics and focus on social, economic and community issues to increase awareness related to retirement design. The centre is expected to be open by the end of the year.

Hamilton Lane enters Australian market
US-based global alternatives firm, Hamilton Lane, will be opening a firm in Sydney headed by James Martin.

VicSuper launches new online financial advice coach
VicSuper has launched Beeline, an online financial advice coach designed to improve member engagement. Beeline will offer advice in easy-to-understand dialogue, without using complex industry terms. 

NAB sells JANA stake
NAB is selling a 55 per cent stake in JANA to senior JANA management. 

Industry fund offering retirement income incentive
BUSSQ is offering a retirement reward incentive of up to $11,520 to customers who sign up to the fund's retirement pension plan. This represents a transfer of the fund's tax surplus.

Ignition Wealth announces SMSF suitability tool
Ignition Wealth is launching a new tool to help determine client's suitability for establishing a self-managed super fund. The tool will make recommendations dependent on clients' responses to certain questions. 

Vertium launches retirement income fund
Former Investors Mutual senior portfolio manager, Jason Teh, has unveiled his first management fund, the Vertium Equity Income Fund, in partnership with Copia Investment Partners. Vertium will be a specialist equity income investment manager. 

Fintech partnering for Melbourne hub
Fintech hub Stone and Chalk is broadening its reach into Victoria with the help of AustralianSuper to open a new Melbourne-based operation. Since launching in 2015 Stone and Chalk has housed over 90 start-ups.

Regulatory Updates

Bannister Law to file class action against Dick Smith
The Supreme Court of NSW has approved Bannister Law to file a class action against DSHE Holdings (in liquidation). It is alleged that the 2015 half-year and full-year financial statements were misleading, deceptive, and not in accordance with Australian accounting standards. 

Court orders wind up of 18 companies
The Federal Court of Australia has ordered the winding up of 18 companies associated with the Macro Group. The companies are:

  • AGKM Green Pty Ltd
  • BA Sullivan Pty Ltd
  • Christians Holdings WA Pty Ltd
  • Ferrous Ferric Pty Ltd
  • Macpherson Realty Options Pty Ltd
  • Splendiferous Enterprises Pty Ltd
  • Aiple Enterprises Pty Ltd
  • Brayst WA Pty Ltd
  • Chippere Pty Ltd
  • EDWY14 WA Pty Ltd
  • MCKST Pty Ltd
  • Newkins WA Pty Ltd
  • Kurst WA Pty Ltd
  • MRF Kurra Pty Ltd
  • Dee Vee Enterprises Pty Ltd
  • Hedland Projects Pty Ltd
  • Macro Projects TS PH Pty Ltd and
  • Prime Holdings Group Pty Ltd

Justice Barker made the order to wind up the companies, appointing Matthew Woods and Hayden White of KPMG as liquidators of all 18 companies. ASIC has concerns that the companies were not properly managed, were potentially insolvent and had been involved in several breaches of the Corporations Act. ASIC has previously obtained orders appointing Woods and White as liquidators of six central companies within the Macro Group.

ASIC for intercept powers
ASIC could soon be given enhanced ability to receive information seized by other government agencies in cases of alleged insider trading, financial services fraud and market manipulation as outlined in the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce position paper.

FSC announces stewardship code
The Financial Services Council (FSC) has launched its Internal Governance and Asset Stewardship Standard, the first Australian fund manager compulsory asset stewardship code. The standard describes a code of practice for how fund managers should meet transparency obligations. Compliance will be mandatory for all FSC asset-manager members, excluding those that outsource their investment management.

Abu Dhabi and Australia fintech agreement
The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) and ASIC have signed a cooperation agreement to provide a framework for information sharing between the two regulators. This is one of many such agreements that ASIC has been committing to recently. 

MyState refund of overcharged fees and interest
Tasmanian-based MyState Bank has refunded more than $230,000 in overcharged interest and fees. Customers affected include those whose offset accounts were not linked to their mortgages or those who were charged offset account fees after their loan was discharged or changed. The mistake was due to errors in MyState's manual administration processes.

Financial Choice pays penalties
Australian financial services provider Financial Services has paid two ASIC infringement notices totalling $21,600 after misleading statements were made on its website and in marketing emails sent to customers in 2016.

ASIC accepts enforceable undertaking from Avalon
ASIC has approved Avalon Pacific Capital's enforceable undertaking in relation to its dealing in the securities of five overseas registered companies listed on the National Stock Exchange of Australia.

Suncorp's Tower takeover denied
The New Zealand Commerce Commission has denied the proposed merger between Suncorp and Tower for fears that it would lead to substantially lessened competition in the New Zealand personal investment market.

Sunsuper and Kinetic Super merger
Melbourne-based industry fund Kinetic Super and Brisbane-based industry fund Sunsuper have confirmed their merger was given final approval by their respective boards. 

Super changes bill released
The Treasury Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 draft has been released by the government outlining changes to the superannuation system. These changes include requirements for Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) regulated funds to report and publish more transparent information about how the fund is being managed. The reforms also mean that superannuation directors who breach their duties are subject to the same criminal and civil penalties as ordinary managed investment scheme directors.