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How can I find out where my super money is invested?

How can I find out where my super money is invested?

Being proactive with your superannuation from the early stages of your career can have long lasting effects, and that includes knowing where your money is being invested.

It’s likely that most Aussies wouldn’t actively invest their money into organisations and industries with values that are misaligned with their own. So, it’s important not to be passive about it either.

After all, if you’re mindful about environmental sustainability on a day-to-day basis, chances are you wouldn’t want to find out you’ve spent most of your career contributing to the fossil fuel industry.

So, how can you find out where your super money is being invested?

Super funds have not always been required to disclose exactly where your money is being invested. But, at the time of writing, the Australian Government is undertaking further consultation on the regulations for the Superannuation Portfolio Holdings Disclosure.

The initial consultation was part of the ‘Your Future, Your Super’ Regulations (which passed the Parliament on 17 June 2021), and the amendments include: “introducing a requirement that the information should be easily downloadable from the website of the fund...”.

What this means is that super fund members will have more transparency when it comes to not only where their retirement savings are invested, but also the ease of which they can access this information.

Currently, it can be difficult to locate this information, depending on which super fund you are a member of. But the investment option you have chosen can typically give you a good indication of the industries your money may be investing in.

Can I have a say in where my money is invested?

Most Australian superannuation funds will have multiple investment options for you to choose from. If you are still a member of a default fund or are otherwise unaware of which of your fund’s options you’re invested in, it’s a good idea to find out.

Choosing the right investment option for your age and career stage can be important for the success of your retirement savings and allow you to ensure your personal values are being correctly represented.

For example, there are a number of super funds that offer ethical or sustainable investment options, but it’s unlikely to be the default option. So, if it’s important to you that your money is being invested ethically, you’ll typically need to actively select your fund’s ethical investment option, or switch to a fund that offers one.

Additionally, many super funds have a policy to exclude investments in the coal, and oil & gas industries, that applies across all of their investment options. You might like to consider reaching out to your super fund or checking their website to see if they hold this kind of policy.

One of the most useful ways to ensure you have a say in where your retirement nest egg is invested is by doing your research and making any necessary changes. Many super funds will allow you to change your investment option online or by mailing in a completed form. Just be sure to check the terms and conditions and weigh up the suitability of any new option before making the switch.

If you’re interested in learning more about ethical super, or to compare ethical super funds, consider checking out RateCity’s ethical super hub.

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Alex Ritchie before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about superannuation

What will the superannuation fund do with my money?

Your money will be invested in an investment option of your choosing.

What are ethical investment superannuation funds?

Ethical investment funds limit themselves to making ‘ethical’ investments (which each fund defines according to its own principles). For example, ethical funds might avoid investing in companies or industries that are linked to human suffering or environmental damage.

What is a superannuation fund?

A superannuation fund is an institution that is legally allowed to hold and invest your superannuation. There are more than 200 different superannuation funds in Australia. They come in five different types:

  • Retail funds
  • Industry funds
  • Public sector funds
  • Corporate funds
  • Self-managed super funds

Retail funds are usually run by banks or investment companies.

Industry funds were originally designed for workers from a particular industry, but are now open to anyone.

Public sector funds were originally designed for people working for federal or state government departments. Most are still reserved for government employees.

Corporate funds are arranged by employers for their employees.

Self-managed super funds are private superannuation funds that allow people to directly invest their money.

What is superannuation?

Superannuation is money set aside for your retirement. This money is automatically paid into your superannuation fund by your employer.

How do you create a superannuation account?

Before you create a superannuation account, you’ll need to check if you’re allowed to choose your own fund. Most Australians can, but this option doesn’t apply to some workers who are covered by industrial agreements or who are members of defined benefits funds.

Assuming you are able to choose your own fund, the next step should be research, because there are more than 200 different superannuation funds in Australia.

Once you’ve decided on your preferred superannuation fund, head to that provider’s website, where you should be able to fill in an online application or download the appropriate forms. You’ll need your tax file number (assuming you don’t want to be charged a higher tax rate), your contact details and your employer’s details (if you’re employed).

How do you set up superannuation?

Before you set up a superannuation account, you’ll need to check if you’re allowed to choose your own fund. Most Australians can, but this option doesn’t apply to some workers who are covered by industrial agreements or who are members of defined benefits funds.

Assuming you are able to choose your own fund, the next step should be research, because there are more than 200 different superannuation funds in Australia.

Once you’ve decided on your preferred superannuation fund, head to that provider’s website, where you should be able to fill in an online application or download the appropriate forms. You’ll need your tax file number (assuming you don’t want to be charged a higher tax rate), your contact details and your employer’s details (if you’re employed).

Can I choose a superannuation fund or does my employer choose one for me?

Most people can choose their own superannuation fund. However, you might not have this option if you are a member of certain defined benefit funds or covered by certain industrial agreements. If you don’t choose a superannuation fund, your employer will choose one for you.

What is the difference between accumulation and defined benefit funds?

A majority of Australians are in accumulation funds. These funds grow according to the amount of money invested and the return on that money.

A minority of Australians are in defined benefit funds – many of which are now closed to new members. These funds give payouts according to specific rules, such as how long the worker has been with their employer and their final salary before they retired.

What superannuation details do I give to my employer?

When you start a job, your employer will give you what’s called a ‘superannuation standard choice form’. Here’s what you need to complete the form:

  • The name of your preferred superannuation fund
  • The fund’s address
  • The fund’s Australian business number (ABN)
  • The fund’s superannuation product identification number (SPIN)
  • The fund’s phone number
  • A letter from the fund trustee confirming that the fund is a complying fund; or written evidence from the fund stating it will accept contributions from your new employer; or details about how your employer can make contributions to the fund

You should also provide your tax file number – while it’s not a legal obligation, it will ensure your contributions will be taxed at the (lower) superannuation rate.

How do you open a superannuation account?

Opening a superannuation account is simple. When you start a job, your employer will give you what’s called a ‘superannuation standard choice form’. Here’s what you need to complete the form:

  • The name of your preferred superannuation fund
  • The fund’s address
  • The fund’s Australian business number (ABN)
  • The fund’s superannuation product identification number (SPIN)
  • The fund’s phone number
  • A letter from the fund trustee confirming that the fund is a complying fund; or written evidence from the fund stating it will accept contributions from your new employer; or details about how your employer can make contributions to the fund

You might want to provide your tax file number as well – while it’s not a legal obligation, it will ensure your contributions will be taxed at the (lower) superannuation rate.

How do I change my superannuation fund?

Changing superannuation funds is a common and straightforward process. You can do it through your MyGov account or by filling out a rollover form and sending it to your new fund. You’ll also have to provide proof of identity.

How many superannuation funds are there?

There are more than 200 different superannuation funds.

Can I transfer money from overseas into my superannuation account?

Yes, you can transfer money from overseas into your superannuation account – under certain conditions. First, you must provide your tax file number to your fund. Second, if you are aged between 65 and 74, you must have worked at least 40 hours within 30 consecutive days in a financial year. (Australians under 65 aren’t subject to a work test; Australians aged 75 and over cannot receive contributions to their superannuation account.)

Money transferred from overseas will generally count to both your concessional contributions limit and your non-concessional contributions limit. You will have to pay income tax on the applicable fund earnings component of any money transferred from overseas. You might also be liable for excess contributions tax.

How do I choose the right superannuation fund?

Different superannuation funds charge different fees, offer different insurances, offer different investment options and have different performance histories.

So you need to ask yourself these four questions when comparing superannuation funds:

  • How many fees would I have to pay and what would they cost?
  • What insurances are available and how much would they cost?
  • What investment options does it offer? How would they match my risk profile and financial needs?
  • How have these investment options performed historically?