Keeping Up with Regulatory Requirements: COVID-19 Superannuation Early Release Scheme

by Adwait Dhole

As the pandemic continues to create unprecedented economic uncertainty, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is pulling out all the stops to assist, including the introduction of the COVID-19 Superannuation Early Release Scheme or simply, the Early Release Initiative (ERI).

ERI is designed specifically to enable Australians experiencing financial hardship to withdraw funds from their own superannuation accounts, as quickly as possible. Statistics in the below graphic show the initiative's high uptake -- 2.9 million applications received, and payments to-date exceeding $28 billion.

Screen Shot 2020-07-30 at 9.44.29 am

Data published by The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) on the COVID-19 Superannuation Early Release Scheme, from inception of the Scheme to 27 July 2020. For full details, visit www.apra.gov.au

It is a popular scheme. Recently extended to run until 31 Dec 2020, the superannuation early access scheme is catching a strong second wind – with a significant increase in applications this month.

 

The Challenge

With strong uptake of the initiative comes additional workload demands on each super fund.

APRA has issued the super fund industry with stringent guidelines, to embed measures to monitor processing capacity and track payout delays for each super fund via mandatory weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports.

Applications need to be processed as a matter of urgency. The tight timelines and processing of requirements to pay eligible members are proving complex, time-consuming and a drain on resources.

Super funds that are slow to address or process applications may be called out for taking longer than other funds to pay eligible members.

 

Regulators have mandated super funds to provide a summary of ERI payments. These reports include details on the members circumstances such as insurance status, account closure, claims and a list of other information. Collecting such varied and diverse information is often quite complex, often sourced from several different systems.

Adding to the complexity, there has been multiple amendments to the initial reporting requirements, causing a mad scramble to add the new data requirements going forward, remove data which is no longer required and even, apply the changes to previous reports and re-submit with the amended data requirements.

The need to ‘hunt and gather’ information on a weekly basis is not only incredibly time consuming, but immensely fraught with risk of error. Providing incorrect information is not only a disservice to members, but could lead to compliance breaches, resulting in fines.

 

Superannuation-early-release-scheme-2

The Solution

There is no hiding from the fact that super funds which have invested time and effort to centralise their various source systems into a single unified layer are finding the burden to report on ERI far less.

Super funds we've worked with on their data transformation are seeing the results of their data unification efforts. With fully automated, one-click reporting, wrapped in tight security and governance, these super funds are producing reports of the highest quality and trust.

Key considerations when looking for an automated reporting solution:

  • Ensure you have data unification in place: If not, you will need to throw immense resources and manual verification scenarios at the project, and incur the risk of errors.
  • Look to an experienced advanced analytics consultancy: Check if the provider offers accelerators and can share demos. Review these for demonstrated ability, roadmap and proven value to accelerate the processes, to minimise the manual effort.
  • Look for demonstrated understanding: Your solution partner should be across ATO and APRA regulatory requirements. Ask for a discovery session to identify requirements, outline challenges and determine customised road mapping for immediate value.
  • Your awareness is not enough: Even if you are fully across regulatory and reporting requirements, it is vital to ensure the provider’s ability to assure ongoing compliance for your super fund, even in the face of continuous amendments, in a timely manner.
  • Verify intelligent data governance: Strong governance controls deliver a single source of truth for data governance and regulatory compliance. Underpin the quality and accuracy of data, drive deep trust and confidence in the data and assure your compliance.

Supporting complex initiatives is no easy task.

The foundation of unified data, prepared for the purposes of reporting and analysis, in combination with a very clear understanding of ATO and APRA regulatory requirements, is crucial.

Don't risk error. Assure compliance, today. 
Talk with Tridant subject matter experts to understand how to empower your super fund with fully automated, one-click reporting, wrapped in tight security and governance. 

A special thank you to Zac Anstee for his contributions to this article.

 

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