Keep ignoring your superannuation and you’ll most likely lose out. Instead, put a decent super plan into place and really optimise your nest egg.
UniSuper opened its doors to everyone in July this year. The fund has been exclusive to the higher education and research sector for over 40 years to great acclaim, and now its strategy is available to everyone.
The fund charges some of the lowest fees on the market – $96 or 2 per cent of your account balance, whichever is less. It also consistently delivers top numbers; consider their 10 year UniSuper Balanced investment return of 9.55 per cent against the overall industry median of 8.27 per cent. As a result, the fund has been named Money magazine’s Best Super Fund for 2022.
“Its strong performance in this year’s awards, coming top in four categories (Best Growth Super Products, Best Equities Super Product, and Best International Shares Super Product) and strong showings in the top five in other categories all contributed to why it won the top super award,” says Money magazine managing editor Julia Newbould.
I’m talking up this award winner because it should be your new benchmark to compare your own super fund against.
Start your super plan
If you haven’t checked your superannuation statement in a while, you might be in for a bit of a shock. There are five key reasons why:
- 13 super funds failed the APRA performance test this year. Is yours one of them?
- Almost 3 million works get ripped off through super every year
- If you’re a woman, your balance will almost certainly be lower than your male peers
- If you’re self-employed, your super balance is likely to be well-under average
- Most Australians currently don’t have enough super for a comfortable retirement
If you tick any of the above boxes, it’s time to reassess your super and make a super plan for the new year.
1. Get all your super into one place
First things first: make sure you only have one superannuation account. You can see how many you have and consolidate them into one through the MyGov page:
- go to my.gov.au
- log in or create an account
- link your myGov account to the ATO
- select ‘Super’ and then ‘Manage’
If you have more than one fund, you’ll see a ‘Transfer super’ option. This option will only appear if you have more than one super account. Click the button, and choose one account to move all of your super into.
2. Change funds if you need to
If your super fund is one of the underperformers, your best super plan is to get out completely.
Find a top performing super fund, join up, then move your money across using the above ‘transfer super’ option. There’s a big hint about a decent fund at the beginning of this article, but do shop around to find a fund that’s exactly right for you.
It’s always a good idea to compare super funds at least annually. That way you can be sure you’re in a fund that’s working well for you.
3. Improve your investment strategy
Every Aussie who has a super account is a sharemarket investor. Your super fund does the work for you, but the returns are yours.
To maximise your returns, it pays to keep an eye on the investment options you’ve allocated in your fund. Most funds will offer growth, balanced and conservative strategies. The default is generally the balanced option, and that’s where most Australians leave things. Mainly because they never check their super until they’re suddenly 60 years old and retirement is looming.
If you’re young, you’ve got time. A better investment strategy for you may well be a growth strategy. If you’re older, you might want to go the conservative option to plod your money along until retirement. In either case, the default growth option won’t be the one you want.
Talk to your super fund, or better still, talk to a financial adviser, to work out what strategy best suits you. A financial adviser will take into account your plans, lifestyle and risk tolerance to fix a good percentage balance between all three strategies. For example, you might end up with 50 per cent in growth, 50 per cent in balanced.
4. Grow your super faster
The final element in your super plan should be about maximising it. That might take a few different forms, so research your options:
This is where you use part of your pre-tax salary to buy things so you take home less after-tax pay. This means you reduce your taxable income and will hopefully pay less tax. Find out more here:
The Australian government encourage different superannuation contribution strategies. These incentives vary from tax incentives (see above) to dollar matching. Three that might be suitable for you are:
First home buyers – the first home super savers scheme allows you to save money for your first home inside your super fund. This allows first home buyers to salary sacrifice volunteer contributions up to $30,000 into their super that are taxed at the lower super rate. The money is then released by your super fund when you are ready to buy your first home. There are some caveats attached to this scheme, so do check with your financial adviser to make sure it’s right for you.
Concessional contributions – you can contribute up to $25,000 pre-tax dollars (this includes money contributed by your employer and is soon to be increased to $27,000). “That can be a really good way to get some good tax deductions and get money into your super in a way that you don’t feel as much out of pocket,” says Nash.
Super co-contribution – if you’re a low to middle income earner and make personal (after tax) contributions to your super fund, the government will make a contribution up to $500. The amount the government will kick in depends on how much you contribute and how much you earn. You can find out more here.
As well as making pre-tax contributions from your salary, you can also make after tax contributions from your bank account. You can then claim this money as a deduction at tax time.