AMP Ltd chief executive Craig Dunn has called for balance in the government’s review of Australia’s superannuation industry, saying it is the envy of other countries.
Super has cushioned Australia against the full impact of the global financial crisis, the head of Australia’s largest super fund manager said on Wednesday.
“Superannuation has enabled our nation to accumulate a large savings pool of more than $1 trillion,” Mr Dunn told a Trans-Tasman Business Circle function in Sydney.
“That savings pool has been instrumental in helping to cushion Australia from the worst impacts of the global financial crisis, enabling Australian companies to draw on $90 billion in new capital over the last financial year.
“The strength and structure of our financial services and superannuation system is envied around the world.
“The global financial crisis has stress-tested the industry, but it has not been broken.”
While welcoming the federal government’s review of the superannuation system, and the Henry Review of taxation, Mr Dunn cautioned against major changes.
He called on regulators and the government to proceed with balance and not underestimate the strength of the system as it stands.
“Let’s make sure that any new regulatory response appropriately connects any market failures with their true cause, does not lessen competition … and does not reduce the savings momentum we have worked so hard to build into our world-renowned superannuation regime,” he said.
“Because, ultimately, that will leave consumers, and Australia, far worse off.”
Meanwhile, AMP’s short-term outlook “remains challenging”, Mr Dunn said, adding he was “very confident about the longer term.”
In May, the company said tough market conditions were expected to continue into 2010 amid volatile markets and a reluctance by clients to commit more savings to invest.
The economic downturn had presented acquisition opportunities, Mr Dunn said, without elaborating on specific opportunities.
However he did point to Asia as growth market.
“We believe there are opportunities in asset management in Asia, and we’re looking at growing into that market,” Mr Dunn said.
“We’re doing it very carefully and we’re doing it very prudently.
“It’s more likely to be organic than acquisitive, because I think you do take a risk when you buy things offshore because you just simply don’t know the markets as well as you do in Australia.”
AMP shares closed down six cents, or 1.28 per cent, at $4.62.