Fact sheet was best data to hand

SMSf fact sheet

ASIC has defended its use of numbers in a fact sheet that overinflated SMSF running costs, claiming they were reputable and the best available at the time.

ASIC has defended the numbers used in regards to SMSF operating costs in its controversial fact sheet released late last year, saying they were the best figures available at the time, but it recognised the need for updated figures to be included on all its websites and press releases.

Addressing a House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics hearing today into the work of the corporate regulator in 2019, ASIC chair James Shipton said the numbers were supplied by the ATO and rejected claims made by committee chair Tim Wilson that the numbers were “false and misleading”.

“If I may, with utmost respect, comment that we do not believe the data we were relying on from the ATO was false or misleading. The data, at that point in time, was the best available data from a reputable statutory agency and we treated it as appropriate.”

Shipton said the release of the SMSF Fact Sheet, which quoted the average operating costs for an SMSF at $13,900, relied on the ATO data and ASIC procedures in place as part of a pilot program to provide SMSF trustees with data related to the running of their fund.

“I would say we applied the appropriate procedures at the appropriate time in relation to the data, which came from a very reputable brethren agency in the commonwealth, and our responsibility is not to second-guess a brethren agency,” he said.

“We stand by our actions at that point in time and our actions in recent times that we are referencing the most available recent data and there is no confusion moving forward with these past statements and press releases.”

Wilson said he found ASIC’s view to stand by the fact sheet figures problematic and encouraged it to follow the example of institutions under its oversight.

“There is a substantial error that has been made in this circumstance and it has gone on to misinform the market and the community. The best thing, in the same way as the entities you regulate when they make an error, is to accept the error, to acknowledge it and move on rather than to stand by it,” the Liberal MP said.

He also sought a commitment from ASIC that it would change the SMSF operating cost figures quoted on the Moneysmart website, saying that at the time of the hearing this morning the website stated the average cost of running an SMSF was $14,879.

Shipton said work was currently underway to ensure the data was correct and it would be “triple-checked” and updated as new data became available each year.

Checks conducted by selfmanagedsuper after the hearing found the site had been updated and referenced the ATO data, which states the average operating cost of running an SMSF was $6152 and median cost was $3923.

Shipton also pointed out ASIC has added warnings on the press release regarding the fact sheet that the data was out of date and should not be relied upon and provided links to the newer ATO data.

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