SUPER funds are under pressure to be more open about how much their top executives and directors are paid, after peak bodies backed a regulator's plan to lift transparency in the $1.4 trillion industry.
Unlike listed companies, super funds are not required by law to reveal how much their directors and executives are paid, and the level of disclosure in the industry varies widely.
As part of a sweeping change in super regulation, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority is pushing for new rules requiring disclosure of pay, alongside a shake-up in super governance arrangements.
In response, groups representing both retail and not-for-profit funds have cautiously backed the regulator's plan.
The chief executive of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees, Fiona Reynolds, said APRA's proposal was reasonable given the demand that super funds made of listed companies. "We are expecting corporations to disclose remuneration. If we are expecting that, we should do it ourselves," she said.
A submission from the Financial Services Council, which represents funds owned by the big banks, said it backed disclosure of remuneration that was paid from assets of the superannuation trust.
The chief executive of Industry Super Network, David Whiteley, said some industry funds already published how much directors and managers were paid, and there was growing public pressure on funds to improve their disclosure.
"There's clearly a growing community expectation that the fees of directors are disclosed and that remuneration of executives is disclosed," he said.
The level of disclosure varies widely between funds. Several not-for-profit and retail funds including HOSTPLUS and Colonial do not disclose remuneration of directors in annual reports.
On the other hand, Australian Super discloses pay of senior managers in bands. Where director remuneration is disclosed, research firm SuperRatings has found that more than half of funds pay directors between $20,000 and $50,000 a year. It said 18 per cent paid them less than $20,000.
Ms Reynolds said there was no desire to hide remuneration and the industry was already moving in that direction.
Other proposals from APRA include rules requiring funds to build up cash reserves to protect members' funds, and more rigorous risk management processes.