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Fahy leaves ASFA after a good innings

Martin Fahy has stepped down as CEO of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) after seven years at the helm where he played a “pivotal role” in addressing the policy and regulatory changes of the period.

Taking up the role in 2016, Fahy led ASFA through a “transformational and turbulent” period in the superannuation sector, including the Protecting Your Super reforms, the Covid-19 early release scheme, the introduction of the Your Future, Your Super (YFYS) reforms, and the super guarantee’s move to 12 per cent.

“Australia’s superannuation retirement system is the envy of our OECD peers,” Fahy said in a release. “It allows Australians to face into retirement with confidence and makes the fiscal burden of an aging population affordable.”

“I would like to thank the ASFA team, the ASFA Board, and our previous chair Dr Michael Easson for their support. I am particularly indebted to Gary Dransfield, our current chair, for his guidance and leadership over the last two years.”

During his time as CEO of ASFA Fahy has been a passionate advocate for the superannuation sector and a valuable commentator to the journalists covering it, able to supply both a colourful turn of phrase and his expertise in the practice and theory of pension fund policy. In interviews with ISN he was sceptical of the design of the YFYS reforms and the orthodox view of consolidation espoused by big funds and the regulator, warning that the sector could ultimately become less innovative as a result of too many mergers.

“From a regulatory point of view, a system that is massive and passive is ultimately stable… On the other hand, that stability and that scale and being largely passive in its asset allocation comes at the cost of efficiency and innovation and competition,” Fahy told ISN in 2021.

“Ultimately, we’re facing a choice: do we want a situation where the population ecology of super funds is characterised by diversity, where there’s innovation and competition within the market and there’s players that are niche and differentiated? Or do we want competition for the market where incumbency becomes the dominant feature? While it may be stable, it isn’t efficient and innovative.”

He leaves ASFA as the associations that represent super funds experience their own period of consolidation, evidenced by the failed merger talks between ASFA and the AIST (AIST’s prospective dance partner remains Industry Super Australia). ASFA chair Gary Dransfield has been appointed as interim CEO.

“Martin has provided outstanding leadership and has ensured that ASFA has played a pivotal role in addressing the policy and regulatory changes that have occurred during his tenure,” Dransfield said. “Under Martin’s direction ASFA has pursued a sophisticated, articulate and evidenced-based approach to advocacy and has driven capability uplift across the sector through its research, thought leadership, professional development, and related activities.”

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