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Tuesday 10 April 2018

18-098MR Superannuation trustee and promoter penalised for false and misleading conduct

Spaceship Financial Services Pty Ltd (Spaceship) and Tidswell Financial Services Ltd (Tidswell) have each paid a $12,600 penalty for Infringement Notices issued by ASIC.  ASIC's concerns related to misleading claims about the 'fundamental investment philosophy' of the Spaceship Super Fund’s "GrowthX" portfolio (Spaceship Fund), made on the fund’s website (www.spaceship.com.au) during 2017.

In June 2017, the Spaceship Fund had more than 6,000 members and over $100 million in funds under management. Tidswell is the trustee of the fund, and Spaceship the promoter.

The Infringement Notices were issued following concerns that promotional statements prioritised marketing over accurate disclosure. Prospective members of the fund were told that:

'We will fight to get you the very best assets in your portfolio…. We will measure companies in our portfolio based on their ability to provide defensibility of profits and high levels of product differentiation.'

ASIC’s concern is that these statements mislead prospective members of the fund because at the time 79 per cent of the fund was invested in index-tracking funds, which involved no qualitative analysis of the underlying companies.

ASIC’s enforcement of the misleading and deceptive conduct provisions of the ASIC Act:

  • reflects ASIC’s expectation that the trustees of superannuation funds will supervise the promotion of the fund; and
  • demonstrates that ASIC considers the promotion of a fund to be unlawful if investors are required to find their way through misleading representations to the disclosures in a PDS. 

'The accurate promotion of superannuation products is critical to enable Australian consumers to make well-informed financial decisions; particularly in this case given the Spaceship Fund was specifically targeting young investors,' ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said.

In response to ASIC's concerns, Spaceship and Tidswell have since removed the statements from the Spaceship Fund's website.

ASIC is monitoring new entrants to the superannuation industry to ensure that marketing and promotional claims are consistent with the underlying features of the product. 'New entrants to the superannuation sector have the potential to offer benefits to consumers, but it is critical that they provide accurate and clear information, especially if they are targeting a younger demographic,' said Mr Kell.

ASIC may issue an Infringement Notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws. The payment of the Infringement Notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ASIC Act.

More information on Infringement Notices can be found on ASIC's website at

http://asic.gov.au/about-asic/asic-investigations-and-enforcement/infringement-notices/.

ASIC's MoneySmart website has information for consumers about choosing a super fund, including guidance on selecting a suitable investment option.

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Last updated: 16/04/2018 11:28