Find and compare independent contractor super funds

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6.78%

$68

Legalsuper

$628

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Platinum
More details
5.95%

$78

MLC

$913

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Platinum
More details
6.97%

$78

MTAA Super

$513

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MySuper Platinum
More details
6.63%

$92

smartMonday

$622

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Platinum
More details
New

$575

BT Financial Group

$1.2k

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Gold
More details
6.23%

$180

IOOF

$1.1k

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Gold
More details
-

$0

HUB24 Limited

$452

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Gold
More details
4.85%

$91

AMP Bank

$701

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Gold
More details
5.79%

$0

Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme

$475

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MySuper Gold
More details
6.44%

$0

Electricity Industry Superannuation Scheme

$365

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Gold
More details
New

$117

First Super

$597

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Gold
More details
New

$0

Goldman Sachs JBWere Superannuation Fund

$335

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MySuper Gold
More details

Learn more about superannuation

When you’re self-employed or working as a contractor, superannuation often takes a back seat. But superannuation is one of the most important financial issues independent contractors must deal with.

Failing to put measures in place while you’re working can leave you with insufficient funds to support the type of lifestyle you’re planning to enjoy in retirement.

The good news for the self-employed and independent contractors is there are super options available. Take a look at the ins and outs of super for the self-employed to get an idea of the steps you’ll need to take to ensure you have enough of a nest egg to fund the retirement you want.

Why do independent contractors need to think about super?

When you’re working as part of a larger company, super is often something that’s taken care of for you. Your employer will be required by law to make compulsory contributions to your superannuation account as part of your overall wage package.

For the self-employed and those on independent contracts, superannuation can work differently.

If you’re a self-employed contractor, you run your own business and don’t work for an employer. In this case, it’s up to you to put a plan in place that will fund your retirement. You can open a super account like anyone else, but it is your responsibility to make contributions, whether they’re regular payments or occasional lump sums.

If you take a contract position with an employer where you are hired wholly or principally for your labour, the employer will be required to pay you super as an employee. If you don’t nominate your own super fund, this superannuation will be paid into a default fund of your employer’s choice. If you take contract positions with several different employers over the course of your career, you could find yourself with multiple super accounts in your name, each one charging you fees.

Why should I open a super account as an independent contractor?

There are many reasons why someone who is self-employed or regularly works on independent contracts might be looking to open their own superannuation account:

  • Grow your wealth – Many super funds are set up to grow wealth for their members. When you’ve opened an account with a superannuation fund as an independent contractor, your deposits will be invested by professionals working for the super fund, with a view to grow the wealth for the fund’s members and increase the balance these members can draw on in retirement.
  • Tax-effective investment – Superannuation can be a tax-effective investment in and of itself, but adding to your super balance can also be a way of reducing the amount of tax you pay on your income. It may be possible to effectively lower your tax bill and grow your nest egg simultaneously.
  • It’s not as hard as it seems – While managing superannuation is a little more difficult for independent contractors than it is for those who have everything taken of by the accounts department, it isn’t as hard as it seems. Many super funds are designed to make super easy for the self-employed. And taking an active interest in your superannuation situation can help make you better-informed, so you can grow your balance.

What are government superannuation co-contributions?

Depending on the amount of money you earn as an independent contractor, you might be eligible for a government super contribution, up to a maximum amount of $500 per year.

This could be a way for many self-employed superannuation account owners to further grow their balance and add to their retirement funds.

Your eligibility to receive a government co-contribution to your super fund may depend on how much super you have deposited into your fund before the end of the financial year, as well as your income and other factors.

When you lodge your tax return, the government will determine whether you’re eligible, and deposit the co-contribution automatically if the super fund has your tax file number attached.

Contact the ATO for more information.

Frequently asked questions

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 long after divorce can you claim superannuation?

You or your partner could be forced to surrender part of your superannuation if you divorce, just like with other assets.

You can file a claim for division of property – including superannuation – as soon as you divorce. However, the claim has to be filed within one year of the divorce.

Your superannuation could be affected even if you’re in a de facto relationship – that is, living together as a couple without being officially married.

In that case, the claim has to be filed within two years of the date of separation.

Either way, the first thing to consider is whether you’re a member of a standard, APRA-regulated superannuation fund or if you’re a member of a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF), because different rules apply.

Standard superannuation funds

If your relationship breaks down, your superannuation savings might be divided by court order or by agreement.

The rules of the superannuation fund will dictate whether this transfer happens immediately, or in the future when the person who has to make the transfer is allowed to access the rest of their superannuation (i.e. at or near retirement).

Click here for more information.

SMSFs

If your relationship breaks down, you must continue to observe the trust deed of your SMSF.

So if you and your partner are both members of the same SMSF, neither party is allowed to use the fund to inflict ‘punishment’ – such as by excluding the other party from the decision-making process or refusing their request to roll their money into another superannuation fund.

This no-punishment rule applies even if the two parties are involved in legal proceedings.

Click here for more information.

Financial consequences

Superannuation funds often charge a fee for splitting accounts after a relationship breakdown.

Splitting superannuation can also impact the size of your total super balance and how your super is taxed.

Click here for more information.

How many superannuation funds are there?

There are more than 200 different superannuation funds.

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.

How do I set up an SMSF?

Setting up an SMSF takes more work than registering with an ordinary superannuation fund. 

An SMSF is a type of trust, so if you want to create an SMSF, you first have to create a trust.

To create a trust, you will need trustees, who must sign a trustee declaration. You will also need identifiable beneficiaries and assets for the fund – although these can be as little as a few dollars.

You will also need to create a trust deed, which is a document that lays out the rules of your SMSF. The trust deed must be prepared by a qualified professional and signed by all trustees.

To qualify as an Australian superannuation fund, the SMSF must meet these three criteria:

  • The fund must be established in Australia – or at least one of its assets must be located in Australia
  • The central management and control of the fund must ordinarily be in Australia
  • The fund must have active members who are Australian residents and who hold at least 50 per cent of the fund’s assets – or it must have no active members

Once your SMSF is established and all trustees have signed a trustee declaration, you have 60 days to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN).

When completing the ABN application, you should ask for a tax file number for your fund. You should also ask for the fund to be regulated by the Australian Taxation Office – otherwise it won’t receive tax concessions.

Your next step is to open a bank account in your fund’s name. This account must be kept separated from the accounts held by the trustees and any related employers.

Your SMSF will also need an electronic service address, so it can receive contributions.

Finally, you will need to create an investment strategy, which explains how your fund will invest its money, and an exit strategy, which explains how and why it would ever close.

Please note that you can pay an adviser to set up your SMSF. You might also want to take the Self-Managed Superannuation Fund Trustee Education Program, which is a free program that has been created by CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand.

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.

Do I have to pay myself superannuation if I'm self-employed?

No, self-employed workers don’t have to pay themselves superannuation. However, if you do pay yourself superannuation, you will probably be able to claim a tax deduction.

How do you access superannuation?

Accessing your superannuation is a simple administrative procedure – you just ask your fund to pay it. You can access your superannuation in three different ways:

  • Lump sum
  • Account-based pension
  • Part lump sum and part account-based pension

However, please note that your superannuation fund will only be able to make a payout if you meet the ‘conditions of release’. The conditions of release say you can claim your super when you reach:

  • Age 65
  • Your ‘preservation age’ and retire
  • Your preservation age and begin a ‘transition to retirement’ while still working

The preservation age has six different categories:

Date of birth Preservation age
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964 59
From 1 July 1964 60

There are also seven special circumstances under which you can claim your superannuation:

  • Compassionate grounds
  • Severe financial hardship
  • Temporary incapacity
  • Permanent incapacity
  • Superannuation inheritance
  • Superannuation balance under $200
  • Temporary resident departing Australia

What are reportable superannuation contributions?

For employees, there are two types of reportable superannuation contributions:

  • Reportable employer super contributions your employer makes for you
  • Personal deductible contributions you make for yourself

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.

How do I combine several superannuation accounts into one account?

The process used to consolidate several superannuation accounts into one is the same process used to change superannuation funds. This can be done through your MyGov account or by filling out a rollover form and sending it to your chosen fund.

How do you find lost superannuation funds?

Lost superannuation refers to savings in an account that you’ve forgotten about. This can happen if you’ve opened several different accounts over the years while moving from job to job.

You can use your MyGov account to see details of all your superannuation accounts, including any you might have forgotten. Alternatively, you can fill in a ‘Searching for lost super’ form and send it to the Australian Taxation Office, which will then search on your behalf.

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?

Am I entitled to superannuation if I'm a part-time employee?

As a part-time employee, you’re entitled to superannuation if:

  • You’re over 18 and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month
  • You’re under 18, you work more than 30 hours per week and you earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month

What happens if my employer falls behind on my superannuation payments?

The Australian Taxation Office will investigate if your employer falls behind on your superannuation payments or doesn’t pay at all. You can report your employer with this online tool.

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.

Is superannuation paid on unused annual leave?

If your employment is terminated, superannuation will not be paid on unused annual leave.

How can I keep track of my superannuation?

Most funds will allow you to access your superannuation account online. Another option is to manage your superannuation through myGov, which is a government portal through which you can access a range of services, including Medicare, Centrelink, aged care and child support.

How does the age pension work?

Most Australians who are of retirement age can qualify for the age pension. However, depending on the size of your assets and post-retirement income, you might be entitled to only a reduced pension. In some instances, you might not be entitled to any pension payments.

What will the superannuation fund do with my money?

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