The Royal Commission’s probe into how superannuation operators charged unwitting members fees for services they never received has produced some shocking results.

NAB managers – among the worst offenders, if not THE worst – spent hours in meetings working out how to justify the money they charged for doing nothing.

It’s estimated they have had to return $35 million to 220,000 members.

And there are important lessons here for all of us.

Here are some of the “services” NAB managers considered they could use to explain why some customers – even dead ones! – paid for nothing.

  1. Access to website and online facilities
  2. Adviser fees – when there weren’t any advisers
  3. Adviser on-site visits when non occurred
  4. Invitations to member town halls and education seminars
  5. Communications including financial “tools and calculators”
  6. Relationship managers and education consultants

Any of those appearing on your super statement? You can find out what you should be charging here.

Meanwhile, we are grateful to Scott Pape (AKA The Barefoot Investor) for revealing the story of the single mum of two who sparked the inquiry through amazing persistence.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he said:

“I WANT to introduce you to Mia, who this week became a quiet hero to hundreds of thousands of Aussies around the country … without them even knowing it.

“Mia is a single mother of two kids. Recently she read my book and got to the part where I encourage readers to check their super fees by reading their statements and the fund’s PDS (Product Disclosure Statement). So that’s exactly what she did.

“When she checked her MLC (a division of NAB) Masterkey Personal super statement, she noticed she was being charged a $20 monthly “Plan Service Fee” … and had been since way back in 2012.”

Four times, she was fobbed off with excuses. Four times she came back with more questions. Finally, she…”She spent hours reading through super legalese, and commented (in an email to me) that she found much of it eye-popping and painstaking…’It took me weeks, but at the end it was worth it!’”

“MLC finally admitted the plan service fee was a mistake. And they not only offered to pay her back, but as a “goodwill gesture” offered her an additional $400.”

But Mia lodged a complaint with the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal. It took months but…MLC was finally ordered to repay a whopping $67 million to 305,000 members for dodgy “plan service fees”.

Thanks Scott for making her a hero and reminding us: persistence pays.