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Compare the best performing super funds

While there is no single best super fund as everyone’s needs are different, you may still want to compare super funds by performance. Use filters to improve your results.

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If you’re signing up for a super fund for the first time or considering changing funds, you probably want to know which are the best performing superannuation funds in Australia.

The short answer is that the performance of super funds changes on a daily basis. Top-performing super funds usually boast the most robust returns on investment during a financial year, but overall suitability for you should be judged on a number of factors.

While strong returns are positive, it’s important to consider whether a fund’s investment options and features are appropriate for your particular circumstances.

How to judge a super fund’s performance

The reality is that no one can predict which will continue to be the best performing fund with perfect accuracy. That’s why it’s advisable to choose the right investment strategy for your financial goals, and expect to encounter some ups and downs in your investment over the long term.

However, there are a number of indicators that you can use to judge a super fund’s overall performance:

  • Long-term returns – Returns on investment change regularly, so last year’s top performer may not meet expectations this year. Instead, it’s often best to judge a fund by its performance over at least five years.
  • Fees and tax – Look at the fund’s returns after fees and tax have been deducted.
  • Like-for-like comparison – Compare funds with other funds that have similar investment approaches. For example, if a fund invests 85 per cent of its money in property and shares, compare with other similar investment mixes rather than, say, a cash investment fund.

How to compare super funds in Australia

There are some key factors to consider when comparing super funds and weighing up your options:

  • Performance – As above, it’s often best to look at returns over a period of at least five years, minus fees and tax.
  • Fees – The lower the better, as they can add up over time.
  • Investment options – Check that there are options to suit your needs and preferred level of risk.
  • Extra benefits – Some employers pay more than the minimum contributions through certain funds.
  • Insurance – Check what coverage is available and the cost.
  • Customer service – Look for a fund that can offer support when you need it. Some funds charge a fee for offering financial advice.

Make sure you are comparing funds accurately by checking that details such as the investment returns period and fee period match up. For example, a 10-year average return for the period ending 30 June is different from a 10-year average return for the period ending 31 December. Similarly, one fund may charge fees annually, while another may charge them monthly.

When comparing investment returns, also make sure your comparison is based on the investment option you want to invest in – growth, balanced, conservative or cash.

Where to find information about super funds

You can usually find information about performance, investment options, fees and so on by looking at:

Once you’ve looked at the features and long-term performance of a variety of funds, you’ll be in a good position to decide which are the best performing super funds for your circumstances.

Should you change super funds?

Deciding whether or not to change super funds depends on whether you’re happy with how your current fund is performing. Keep in mind that market fluctuations can be expected with most investments, so it’s not necessarily worth jumping ship at the first sight of a downturn.

If you’ve compared your options and think there is a better fund out there to suit your circumstances, here are a few more things to consider before switching:

  • Insurance – Some funds provide insurance such as life insurance or income protection insurance. If you switch funds, you might lose current coverage.
  • Switching fees – Your current fund may charge a fee for switching.
  • Tax payable – There may be capital gains tax to pay as a result of rolling over your funds. Before switching, check with your super fund what your estimated closing balance will be.
  • New investment options – Make sure you are happy with the investment options available from your new chosen fund.

How to transfer or consolidate superannuation funds

Depending on which fund you’ve chosen, you may be able to transfer your money to a new fund online during the sign-up process. You’ll also need to change your fund with the ATO, either at the myGov website or by filling out a rollover initiation request form.

If you have money in more than one super fund, consolidating into a single account can make it easier to manage your investments and reduce the fees you need to pay.

The consolidation process works in much the same way as transferring funds, except you’ll need to transfer funds from more than one account. You can also search for lost super via the myGov website.

Once you have consolidated or transferred your super into a new account, make sure to let your employer know the details of your new fund.

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

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^Words such as "top", "best", "cheapest" or "lowest" are not a recommendation or rating of products. This page compares a range of products from selected providers and not all products or providers are included in the comparison. There is no such thing as a 'one- size-fits-all' financial product. The best loan, credit card, superannuation account or bank account for you might not be the best choice for someone else. Before selecting any financial product you should read the fine print carefully, including the product disclosure statement, target market determination fact sheet or terms and conditions document and obtain professional financial advice on whether a product is right for you and your finances.