Australia Securities Commission Sues Fintech Pension Firm for Misleading Marketing Statements
Hong Kong | 25th January 2021
The Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) have commenced civil proceedings against an Australian fintech pension service firm for false or misleading representations in the marketing brochures of residential properties investment services using superannuation funds (retirement funds).
” Australian Regulator Sues Fintech Pension Service Firm for Misleading Marketing Statements “
False or Misleading Representations
The Australian financial technology firm Squirrel Superannuation Services, is alleged in 2015 to have marketed and sold services to help clients setup and operate Australia’s Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF) to buy residential property with false or misleading representations.
Example of false or misleading representations in brochures includes stating residential property doubling in value every 7 – 10 years with 4% – 5% of rental return, and implying property returns (14%) outperform funds (7%) and the low cost of managing an investment property compared to using a financial planner to manage a portfolio of funds.
The Squirrel Superannuation Services Marketing Brochure in March 2015:
How buying established residential property can super charge your superannuation?
- “… residential property in metropolitan locations doubles in value every 7-10 years and generates a rental return of around 4 – 5% per annum“
- Using a deposit from an SMSF to purchase residential investment property could obtain certain average returns
- There is a ‘remarkable’ difference in returns between investing in a regular superannuation fund (7%) and using an SMSF that purchased residential property (14%).
- The costs of managing an investment property through an SMSF are ‘surprisingly low’ compared with using a financial planner to select a series of managed investment funds
Australia Regulator Taking Actions
The Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties and cost orders against Squirrel. In 2018, Squirrel Superannuation Services had ceased the distribution of the brochure following communications with ASIC.
The ASIC does not regulate Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF), but regulate services to SMSF trustees (auditors, financial advisors, SMSF financial products).
Superannuation, Pension, Retirement Plan
Superannuation fund is a regular payment by an employee into a fund for future payout, either at retirement or at retirement from the employer. In Australia, Superannuation (Super) is a compulsory contribution of at least 9.5% of income into a fund for retirement. The total superannuation assets in Australia total around $2 trillion (2020). Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF) represents about 26% of total superannuation assets in Australia with over 591,000 accounts and $550 billion of assets.
Selected Pension Plans in the world:
- Australia: Superannuation (Super)
- Hong Kong: MPF (Mandatory Provident Fund)
- Singapore: CPF (Central Provident Fund)
- United States: 401(k)
Selected largest pension funds (AUM):
- Government Pension Fund (Japan) – $1.5 trillion
- Government Pension Fund (Norway) – $1 trillion
- National Pension (South Korea) – $630 billion
- ABP (Netherlands) – $520 billion
- National Social Security (China) – $360 billion
- Central Provident Fund (Singapore) – $310 billion
- Canada Pension (Canada) – $310 billion
- Mandatory Provident Fund (Hong Kong) – $130 billion
Asset Managers Managing Pension Funds
Pension funds are typically managed by institutional investment managers or professional money managers. The largest asset managers in the world includes BlackRock, Vanguard and Fidelity.
Selected largest asset managers (AUM):
- BlackRock – $7.3 trillion
- Vanguard – $6.1 trillion
- Fidelity – $3.5 trillion
- State Street – $3 trillion
- Allianz – $3 trillion
- PIMCO – $1.9 trillion
- Amundi – $1.7 trillion
- Capital Group – $1.7 trillion
- Mercer – $321 billion, $15 trillion (Assets under Advisory)