Suncorp to pay $33 million over super class action

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Suncorp is set to pay $33 million to settle a class action brought by superannuation members in 2019 over conflicted remuneration paid to financial advisers.

The class action was brought by William Roberts Lawyers in June 2019 on behalf of Suncorp Super Fund members, alleging Suncorp Super executed agreements to entrench fees or commissions to advice licensees that would otherwise have been unlawful or unenforceable under the Future of Financial Advice reforms which came into effect July 1, 2013.

The plaintiff, Kerry Michael Quirk, and each of the group members were said to have suffered a loss or damage in the form of the excess fees paid to fund the conflicted remuneration, which thereby reduced their super balances.

suncorp super class action

The defendants in the matter are the trustee Suncorp Portfolio Services and two former directors, Geoff Summerhayes and Sean Carroll, who were accused of breaching their duties.

To settle the matter, Suncorp has agreed to pay $33 million inclusive of costs and interest, on the basis that there is no admission of liability by Suncorp Portfolio Services or Summerhayes and Carroll, documents show.

Of this, about $19 million will be deducted to cover costs incurred over the course of the class action.

This includes more than $14 million to be paid to the litigation funder to cover action costs and in remuneration, after-the-event insurance of $1.3 million, $650,000 to KordaMentha to administer the settlement distribution scheme and $12,000 to be paid to Quirk for his time in acting as the group's representative. It also includes as-yet unpaid legal fees for William Roberts Lawyers.

The settlement amount must still be approved by the court, with an approval hearing scheduled for September 22. If it is not approved, the case will continue.

Anyone who was or remains a member of a Suncorp superannuation fund can still register to be part of the class action group if they think their super account may have been impacted. They have until August 31 to do so.

Suncorp Portfolio Services was acquired by LGIAsuper in April 2021 and now forms part of the Brighter Super Group. The matters subject to the class action occurred while the business was part of Suncorp Group, between July 1, 2013, and June 21, 2019.

This article first appeared on Financial Standard

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Jamie Williamson is editor of Financial Standard. Prior to this she was a senior journalist, covering wealth management including financial advice, superannuation and life insurance. Before turning to journalism, she worked in public relations, specialising in financial services. She has a Bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Newcastle.