Superannuation funds abandon AMP as Treasurer attacks boards
Advertisement

Superannuation funds abandon AMP as Treasurer attacks boards

Treasurer Scott Morrison has ramped up pressure on Australian financial services boards to be held to account for the banking royal commission, as the advisor to one of the country's largest superannuation firms abandons support for the besieged AMP board.

AMP chairman Catherine Brenner is now facing a battle on all fronts to retain her position, after the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors followed the Australian Shareholders Association in calling for her to resign.

ACSI chief executive Louise Davidson said the royal commission recommending AMP face criminal charges for deliberately and repeatedly misleading the regulator over charging clients for no service was the final straw.

AMP chair Catherine Brenner

AMP chair Catherine Brenner

"The statement from the royal commission ... recommending AMP face criminal charges, only reinforces our view that accountability for events revealed over the last 10 days must rest with the board," she said.

ACSI advises a number of Australia's largest super funds, including Australian Super,  among the biggest shareholders in Australia.

Advertisement

The decision means both the Australian Shareholders Association and ACSI will oppose the re-election of three directors at the general meeting of the 169-year-old company on May 10.

"At the same time, AMP must appoint some additional, untainted people to the board," the Australian Shareholders Association said.

Bill Watson, the CEO of another superannuation fund, First Super, urged other institutional investors to follow the ACSI voting recommendation.

“The actions of AMP management and the atrocious governance failings that have recently come to light has had real world consequences for millions of hard-working Australians," he said.

"Shareholder value has been destroyed with the share price down 20 per cent in the last month.”

In less than a month of hearings, the royal commission has also heard the Commonwealth Bank charged dead clients fees, allegations of bribery at the National Australia Bank and evidence of advisors impersonating clients to access the details of their superannuation funds.

The Turnbull government has spent the week being criticised over its two-year opposition to the inquiry.

In a bid to turn around public perceptions, Mr Morrison increased his attacks on the banks and financial services firms on Saturday.

Putting a target on their boards - which include some of Australia's most prominent business people - Mr Morrison said the regulations of the Banking Executive Accountability Regime also apply to them and foreshadowed future punishments.

Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Photo: James Alcock

"The boards of these organisations are the ones that are ultimately accountable for the running of these organisations, the governance, the culture, all of this," he said.

"I think there is a heavier responsibility on boards here and I think that will get a lot of attention. We are going to keep taking action for one simple reason: We don't want to see these things happen again."

He said shareholders depend on board members to put the right culture into their organisations.

"Customers depend on those board members to ensure that those banks are focused on customers," he said.

With Clancy Yeates 

Eryk Bagshaw

Eryk Bagshaw is an economics reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in Parliament House

Most Viewed in Politics

Loading

Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

By signing up you accept our privacy policy and conditions of use