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  • Lost members register – protocol

    This protocol document provides guidance to superannuation (super) providers in meeting their obligations under the Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Act 1999 (SUMLMA) in relation to lost members and reporting requirements.

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    Guiding principles for industry best practice

    These guiding principles for industry include:

    • the best interests of the member (including a super fund member, approved deposit fund (ADF) depositor or retirement savings account (RSA) holder) should be of primary concern, when applying the law and the guidelines within this document
    • lost member tests should be applied at the member level, not the account level
    • if a member is proven to know about their account and demonstrates this by an indication of engagement, the intent of the legislation is that they are not a lost member
      • indications of engagement might include
        • the member makes a decision/ undertakes an action relating to their account (for example, they defer a benefit, change their investment allocation or change their insurance)
        • the member calls you to check in (that is, no account activity is undertaken)
        • the member logs on to an online service provided by you, and views their account
        • the member proactively opts out of a service you provide, where their account membership is referenced
        • the member contacts you (for example, via phone, mail, email) to ask a question about their account's investment strategy.
    • a member's individual circumstances should be considered when determining appropriate action. This might include variables such as
      • the member's age
      • the member's account balance
      • the member's insurance status
      • the member's investment strategy
      • previous contact with the member
      • activity patterns on the member’s account.

    Legislative content

    The Commissioner of Taxation is required to keep a register of lost members under Part 4 of the Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Act 1999. The information is retained in a register called the lost members register (LMR). Information for the purposes of the LMR is collected under section 390-5 in Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (TAA) via the member account attribute service (MAAS).

    You are required to report the details of members you consider to be lost (as defined by regulation 1.03A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 (SISR) or regulation 1.06 of the Retirement Saving Accounts Regulations 1997) (RSAR).

    The MAAS Legislative instrument Taxation Administration Member Account Attribute Service – the Reporting of Information relating to Superannuation Account Phases and Attributes 2018 applies from April 2018. It allows you to report the lost status more frequently if you wish to do so, however you are required to report the lost status of your members at a minimum biannually as follows:

    • assessing the lost status of your members on or after 30 June but before 31 October. If there has been a change in the member’s ‘lost status’ account attribute, report that information on or before 31 October, and
    • assessing the lost status of your members on or after 31 December but before 30 April. If there has been a change in the member’s ‘lost status’ account attribute, report that information on or before 30 April.

    Lost members and unclaimed superannuation money

    The money held for a lost member remains with you, unless it meets the definition of a lost member account (balance of small accounts and inactive accounts of unidentifiable members) at the end of an unclaimed money day. In these cases, it is paid to the ATO as unclaimed superannuation money (USM).

    As the member must first be lost for an account to meet the definition of a lost member account, this protocol document will also assist you in identifying accounts which may need to be paid to the ATO as USM lost member accounts.

    Further information on small and insoluble lost member accounts is available in the USM protocol document.

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    What a lost member is

    A member of a super provider is a lost member if the member is:

    • a lost member within the meaning of regulation 1.03A of the SISR.
    • a lost RSA holder within the meaning of regulation 1.06 of the RSAR).

    These regulations define a member of a super provider to be a lost member at a particular time if:

    • the member is uncontactable
    • the member is an inactive member
    • the member joined the fund from another super provider as a lost member.

    A key underlying concept is that it is the member that is lost – not the account.

      Last modified: 20 Aug 2019QC 27204