The new chief executive officer of AIST, Tom Garcia, is working with all related parties to ensure the right SuperStream frameworks are in place by July 1, 2013, when all super funds need to be compliant (with employers to follow July 1, 2014).
“There is a lot of work being done around understanding SuperStream and how it’s going to work with gateways etc,” he says.
“How are the funds going to physically talk to one another? How is it going to work technologically?”
Graham Sammells, chief executive officer of IQ Group, a technology consultancy to super funds, reports that they are currently “as busy as we can be” getting funds up to speed and he expects more clients as they try to deal with the intricacies of the new system.
“You’re talking about every single transaction,” Garcia says.
“It’s big money, this move to all these new systems costs money…we are building a lot of things because of legislation. Are people going to take advantage [of them]?”
Garcia had an interesting introduction to the financial services industry. After more than 10 years with tyre producer Michelin, he wanted to make a transition into something that focussed on helping people and a friend suggested financial planning.
But his first employer – Dukes – was one of the biggest investors in Westpoint and he was heavily involved in informing clients that they had lost significant amounts of money in that failed company.
“Planners got blamed for this but generally its the licensee that gets all the money,” he says.
“It [that experience] really allowed me to reflect… I thought What on earth is this industry I’ve got into?”
He was fortunate enough to make his way into para-planning at IFFP as he wanted to understand what was involved in putting together a financial plan that had a lower chance of loosing clients money.
“At IFFP everything was about strategy,” he says.
He then made the transition to policy and become the head of policy at AIST before being appointed to the position of chief earlier this year when the incumbent Fiona Reynolds left to join the UNPRI in London.
“We need to simplify super. We absolutely need to understand our members better,” he stresses.
Garcia has a very famous brother – Adam Garcia of Coyote Ugly and Riding in Cars with Boys – but his passion for the comparatively boring industry of superannuation, and his hope for actors like his brother to become engaged with their retirement savings, shines through when talking to him.
“I think it would be a great thing if everyone in the industry was getting advice,” he says.
“Super. I think it’s still too complex. It needs an improvement in language and communication.”
Under Garcia the role of the representative body may take on a more active approach as a conduit between superannuation funds and service providers.
This could involve endorsing providers in some areas like education but mostly as acting as an intermediary in other areas to negotiate better bulk deals for members.
“We would most likely work with third parties [as a conduit between our members],” Garcia says.
“We don’t need to build that resource internally.”
AIST would take the role as a “quasi-introductory agency”, Garcia says.