Communications & Marketing

Keeping members informed about retirement options

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As part of a current UNSW project researching the obstacles to the introduction of lifetime income streams faced by superannuation trustees, some interviewees have raised the legal restrictions on communicating with members.

This article is intended to explore these restrictions and make some additional suggestions on regulatory reform. It is not legal or financial advice; that can only be provided by those who are formally qualified.


Section 992A of the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) protects people against 'unsolicited contact' that is a 'real-time interaction'-such as a telephone call or meeting-to discuss any financial product. Subsection (8) applies this to trustees who might want to discuss the commencement of a pension with its members. A superannuation fund can however advertise publicly or send emails or letters to its members without contravening the 'antihawking' provisions of section 992A (8).

ASIC Regulatory Guide 38 The hawking prohibition (RG 38) does say that a trustee can call a member "with information about different retirement income products, provided that the trustee does not make an offer, request or invitation to the member."

There is a fine line between informing a member about drawdown products offered by the fund, and actually 'offering' the product. It is hardly surprising that many trustees do not want to take the risk.


Trustees may not want to phone members but are free to send emails or letters telling members that they might find it advantageous - for tax or other reasons - to begin a pension. While many members do not read emails nor letters, trustees can experiment with different alternative messages to get members to respond. Some superannuation funds appear to have success with single purpose campaigns. At least one fund has found that such a campaign has led to many members over 65 calling the fund and starting withdrawals.

Regulatory reform

The anti-hawking legislation is to be welcomed as far as it prevents unwanted calls from companies that may not have your best interests at heart. It is an overkill to apply it to a superannuation fund of which one is a member and insulting to trustees. They have a duty to act in their members best interest to begin with, but the anti-hawking legislation effectively assumes that direct interaction with members has a dishonest or ulterior motive. Trustees should be exempt from the anti-hawking provisions when they engage with their own members.