EXECUTIVE pay in retirement funds owned by banks and wealth managers will come under growing scrutiny this year, as new figures show not-for-profit funds shell out between $290,000 and $800,000 a year on their top managers.
Amid a push to make superannuation more transparent, new Rainmaker figures provide a glimpse into the world of super fund remuneration, an area that was notoriously opaque.
Rainmaker's survey found there were 17 funds which chose to disclose executive remuneration - but not one of these was a "retail" fund, which are run for profit.
Across the group included in the survey - a mix of public sector, corporate and union-linked industry funds - the average chief executive pay packet was $474,000.
The highest-paid super fund boss in the survey was the chief executive of the Telstra Superannuation Scheme, Martin Crowe, who received between $800,000 and $809,999.
Next was Australian Super's Ian Silk, who received $586,767.
The third highest paid was the chief executive of Western Australia's public servant fund GESB, Howard Rosario, who Rainmaker estimated was paid $585,001.
The fund with the lowest executive pay was Media Super, which paid recently-departed chief executive Ross Martin $290,000 last financial year.
Funds are not required to disclose executive pay by law, but there is growing pressure from the public and government for greater transparency.
New rules beginning in 2013 will also force funds to disclose more than they currently do.
Retail funds, for instance, will publish the pay packets of fund executives on a proportional basis, so that an executive who spends half of their time managing a certain fund will have half of their total pay disclosed under that fund's obligations.
The chief executive of Industry Super Network, David Whiteley, said industry funds were conscious of the salaries being paid, but they also had to compete for staff.
"At the end of the day industry super funds are seeking to employ the very best people they can to manage their members' retirement savings," Mr Whiteley said.
He argued retail funds' proposal to disclose part of executive pay should be revisited.
"I think there needs to be a greater understanding of why they are embracing only limited disclosure."
The Financial Services Council, which represents retail funds, is also requiring funds to have a majority of independent directors on fund boards as part of its push to lift governance standards.
Rainmaker's director of research, Alex Dunnin, said although the CEO salaries disclosed were high in absolute terms, they were lower than what was paid in the for-profit sector.