Regulation, Retirement

Franking credit campaign ‘misrepresentations’ addressed

SMSF; review; industry fund

The head of a major industry super fund has claimed the SMSF sector will be reviewed, but has not identified any structural problems requiring a review.

One of the leading figures in the campaign to prevent the removal of franking credit refunds, Geoff Wilson, has said the campaign and the firm he heads, Wilson Asset Management (WAM), have been misrepresented and he has no formal ties to Liberal MP Tim Wilson.

In a note sent to WAM investors, Wilson, who is the fund manager’s chair and chief investment officer, said Tim Wilson was not a shareholder in WAM, but was one of 80,000 shareholders in its listed investment companies.

He also said the two men only became aware they were distantly related when they first met in March 2018, at which time they discovered Geoff Wilson’s great-grandfather was Tim Wilson’s great-great-grandfather.

WAM’s Wilson also rejected suggestions he helped fund the website, which has been authorised by Tim Wilson, but added: “I personally contributed to the website in the appropriate way, along with a number of other concerned individuals.”

He also rejected claims the asset management firm stood to gain from the retention of franking credit refunds, adding that it and the listed investment companies the firm managed “have nothing to lose from this policy over and above the broader impacts on the economy and financial markets”.

“On the contrary, listed investment companies can convert into trust structures to offset a reduction in the benefit of fully franked dividends to underlying shareholders,” he said.

He added WAM’s shareholder data was safe, that it had not been shared and the asset manager had only communicated with its shareholders and signatories of its petition.

WAM’s Wilson said he needed to set the record straight on the relationship between the two men and the impact of the change on the asset management firm as the issue had become political “and that comes with considerable noise”, which had led to the misrepresentations.

He also took the opportunity to restate his firm’s opposition to the removal of franking credit refunds because it would disproportionally affect modest retirees and low-income earners.

“The dividend imputation system has not fundamentally changed for 18 years; moving the goalposts on people who are already retired and in many cases cannot return to work is simply not right,” he said.

“These people have few options to deal with their loss of full tax refunds – thousands of our 80,000 shareholders have attested to this by sharing their stories with us.

“With almost four decades of experience in analysing financial markets and investor behaviour, I am confident that changes by Australian companies and wealthy individuals will erode the forecast savings of $55.7 billion.”

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