FUND managers would be forced to disclose their pay packets under proposed new laws aimed at boosting transparency in the $1.3 trillion superannuation system.
The independent senator Nick Xenophon is preparing legislation designed to give fund members more information about their retirement savings, including measures requiring more disclosure of fund manager pay, he said.
Top fund managers could earn millions of dollars a year, but details of their pay were closely guarded in what Senator Xenophon described as an anomaly.
"The transparency framework for super funds hasn't caught up with their exponential growth or their critical importance to the savings of millions of Australians," he said.
Senator Xenophon said he would release the draft legislation next month, adding that disclosure could be improved without adding unnecessary red tape.
But any move towards greater disclosure is opposed by the industry, which argues that fund manager salaries are "proprietary information" and should be kept confidential. The Financial Services Council also says the fees paid by members from their super funds are already disclosed and are more relevant, a stance backed by the Coalition's shadow assistant treasurer, Senator Mathias Cormann. "We believe that remuneration, where paid from the super fund, should be disclosed," he told BusinessDay.
When asked to comment, the Superannuation Minister, Bill Shorten, said: "Better disclosure should be the aim of all those who operate in the financial services industry."
According to IBISWorld, Australia's super fund management industry is on track to reap $9.4 billion in revenue from fund members this financial year, in what would be the sector's best year since 2008.
Listed companies are required to disclose the pay packets of key management personnel in their annual reports. Most listed fund management groups do not include their top fund managers.
One exception is British-based First State, whose parent company Commonwealth Bank disclosed the salaries of top-earning members of its investment teams in its 2011 annual report. These included Martin Lau, the director of greater China equities, whose $7.6 million total package was boosted by almost $7 million in long-term incentives, and Stuart Paul, a joint managing partner of the Asia Pacific and global emerging markets equity team, whose package of $8.2 million included almost $7.3 million in long-term incentives.