Time to change your super? Quite possibly…

Time to change your super? Quite possibly…

Here’s a scary stat: making the wrong choice with your superannuation could cost you more than $100,000 in retirement savings.

That’s the finding from new RateCity research into superannuation, which compares 40-year performance scenarios based on different fees and investment options.

We know super is hard. There are so many variables to get your head around. So how do you know which is the best fund and the best investment option for you?

To help you out, we’ve used the ASIC superannuation calculator to research different scenarios.

Industry funds v retail funds

Industry super funds are not-for-profit funds, while retail funds are for-profit funds. Industry funds have a higher customer satisfaction rating (62.1% v 55.7%), according to a new report from Roy Morgan Research.

Those small fees can make a big difference

First, we’re going to compare the impact of fees, ranging from low through to high.

We’re going to make a few assumptions about you:

  • You’re 27 years old
  • You’re earning $75,000 per year (and will for the rest of your career)
  • You’re planning to work until you’re 67 (which will become the official pension qualifying age in 2023)

We’re also going to make a few assumptions about your super:

  • You’re in a ‘balanced’ fund
  • It has an investment return of 4.8% p.a. (before taxes and fees)
  • It has tax on earning of 6.5% p.a.
  • It has investment fees of 0.5% p.a.

Based on those assumptions, you’ll make $239,161 in superannuation between ages 27 and 67 if you choose the high-fee fund and $347,430 if you choose the low-fee fund.

That’s a difference of $108,269.

Fee level Contribution fee Admin fees (p.a.) Indirect cost ratio (p.a.) Final total
Low 0% $50 0% $347,430
Low-medium 0% $50 0.3% $329,563
Medium 0% $50 0.6% $312,842
Medium-high 2% $0 1.3% $273,833
High 4% $0 2% $239,161

How much do I need to retire?

To live a modest lifestyle, singles need $27,648 per year and couples need $39,775. To live a comfortable lifestyle, singles need $43,317 and couples need $60,977.

These numbers come from the ‘ASFA Retirement Standard’ for Australians aged about 65. Slightly lower numbers apply for those aged about 85.

Different investment options can also make a big difference

Now, we’re going to have a look at how different investment options can affect your nest egg.

Again, we’re going to assume you’re 27, you’re going to work until 67 and your salary is $75,000.

We’re also going to make these assumptions about your super:

  • You’re paying ‘medium’ fees
  • Your contribution fee is 0%
  • Your admin fees are $50 p.a.
  • Your indirect cost ratio is 0.6% p.a.

Based on those assumptions, you’ll make $225,132 if you choose the cash investment option and $339,074 if you choose the high-growth option – a difference of $113,942.

Investment option Investment return (p.a.) Tax on earning (p.a.) Investment fees (p.a.) Final total
High-growth 5.3% 4.1% 0.7% $339,074
Growth 5% 5.8% 0.6% $320,920
Balanced 4.8% 6.5% 0.5% $312,842
Moderate 4.4% 8.3% 0.4% $291,901
Conservative 3.8% 10.6% 0.3% $263,588
Cash 2.7% 15% 0.05% $225,132

Why wouldn’t everyone choose high-growth?

Historical averages show that high-growth investment options tend to produce better long-term returns than conservative options.

However, they also experience more volatility: they might post big gains one year and big losses the next.

Conservative options, by contrast, are less volatile, and experience both smaller gains and smaller losses.

Some people might choose conservative options because they want to reduce their risk. Others might start with growth options but then go conservative as they near retirement, to avoid losing a big chunk of super just before leaving the workforce.

How to change your super

Now that you’ve seen all those numbers, do you feel like changing your super?

If so, we’ve got you covered.

Changing your superannuation fund is simple. You can do it online through your MyGov account. Or you can fill in a rollover form and send it either to the fund you’re about to leave or the fund you’re about to join.

Whether you choose the MyGov option or the rollover form option, you’ll also have to notify your employer and complete a standard choice form.

Of course, you might want to stay with your current super fund and simply change your investment option.

Again, that is a simple process. Many funds will allow you to change options over the internet. If yours doesn’t, contact your fund and ask how to proceed.

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Learn more about superannuation

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.

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 much superannuation should I have at age 40?

The amount of superannuation you should have at age 40 is based on how much money you need to have at retirement. That, in turn, is based on how much money you expect to spend each week during your retirement. That, in turn, depends on whether you expect to lead a modest retirement or a comfortable retirement.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) estimates you would need the following amount per week:

Lifestyle Singles Couples
Modest $465 $668
Comfortable $837 $1,150

Here is the superannuation balance you would need to fund that level of spending:

Lifestyle Singles Couples
Modest $50,000 $35,000
Comfortable $545,000 $640,000

These figures come from the March 2017 edition of the ASFA Retirement Standard.

The reason people on modest lifestyles need so much less money is because they qualify for a far bigger age pension.

Here is how ASFA defines retirement lifestyles:

Category Comfortable Modest Age pension
Holidays One annual holiday in Australia One or two short breaks in Australia near where you live Shorter breaks or day trips in your own city
Eating out Regularly eat out at restaurants. Good range and quality of food Infrequently eat out at restaurants. Cheaper and less food Only club special meals or inexpensive takeaway
Car Owning a reasonable car Owning an older, less reliable car No car – or, if you do, a struggle to afford the upkeep
Alcohol Bottled wine Casked wine Homebrew beer or no alcohol
Clothing Good clothes Reasonable clothes Basic clothes
Hair Regular haircuts at a good hairdresser Regular haircuts at a basic salon Less frequent haircuts or getting a friend to do it
Leisure A range of regular leisure activities One paid leisure activity, infrequently Free or low-cost leisure activities
Electronics A range of electronic equipment Not much scope to run an air conditioner Less heating in winter
Maintenance Replace kitchen and bathroom over 20 years No budget for home improvements. Can do repairs, but can’t replace kitchen or bathroom No budget to fix home problems like a leaky roof
Insurance Private health insurance Private health insurance No private health insurance

 

 

Am I entitled to superannuation if I'm a casual employee?

As a casual 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 age can I withdraw my superannuation?

You can withdraw your superannuation (or at least some of it) when you reach ‘preservation age’. The preservation age is based on date of birth. Here are the 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

When you reach preservation age, you can withdraw all your superannuation if you’re retired. If you’re still working, you can begin a ‘transition to retirement’, which allows you to withdraw 10 per cent of their superannuation each financial year.

You can also withdraw all your superannuation once you reach 65 years.

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).

What are the age pension's residence rules?

On the day you claim the age pension, you must be in Australia and you must have been an Australian resident for at least 10 years (with no break in your stay for at least five of those years). The following exceptions apply:

  • You’re exempt from the 10-year rule if you’re a refugee or former refugee
  • You’re exempt from the 10-year rule if you’re getting Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance or Widow B pension
  • You can claim the age pension with only two years of residency if you’re a woman whose partner died while you were both Australian residents
  • You might be able to claim the age pension if you’ve lived or worked in a country that has a social security agreement with Australia

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 does superannuation work?

Superannuation is paid by employers to employees, at least once every three months. The ‘superannuation guarantee’ is currently 9.5 per cent – which means that your employer must pay you superannuation equivalent to 9.5 per cent of your salary. The guarantee is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

Superannuation is generally taxed at 15 per cent. However, if you earn less than $37,000, you will be automatically reimbursed up to $500 of the tax you paid. Also, if your income plus concessional superannuation contributions exceed $250,000, you will also be charged Division 293 tax. This is an extra 15 per cent tax on your concessional contributions or the amount above $250,000 – whichever is lesser.

You can withdraw your superannuation when 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

 

How much superannuation do I need?

According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), here is how much you would be able to spend per week during retirement:

Lifestyle Singles Couples
Modest $465 $668
Comfortable $837 $1,150

Here is the superannuation balance you would need to fund that level of spending:

Lifestyle Singles Couples
Modest $50,000 $35,000
Comfortable $545,000 $640,000

These figures come from the March 2017 edition of the ASFA Retirement Standard.

The reason people on modest lifestyles need so much less money is because they qualify for a far bigger age pension.

Here is how ASFA defines retirement lifestyles:

Category Comfortable Modest Age pension
Holidays One annual holiday in Australia One or two short breaks in Australia near where you live Shorter breaks or day trips in your own city
Eating out Regularly eat out at restaurants. Good range and quality of food Infrequently eat out at restaurants. Cheaper and less food Only club special meals or inexpensive takeaway
Car Owning a reasonable car Owning an older, less reliable car No car – or, if you do, a struggle to afford the upkeep
Alcohol Bottled wine Casked wine Homebrew beer or no alcohol
Clothing Good clothes Reasonable clothes Basic clothes
Hair Regular haircuts at a good hairdresser Regular haircuts at a basic salon Less frequent haircuts or getting a friend to do it
Leisure A range of regular leisure activities One paid leisure activity, infrequently Free or low-cost leisure activities
Electronics A range of electronic equipment Not much scope to run an air conditioner Less heating in winter
Maintenance Replace kitchen and bathroom over 20 years No budget for home improvements. Can do repairs, but can’t replace kitchen or bathroom No budget to fix home problems like a leaky roof
Insurance Private health insurance Private health insurance No private health insurance

What is lost superannuation?

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.

What is the age pension's income test?

These are the rules for most people who want to claim the standard pension:

Single people

  • If your income per fortnight is up to $168, you’re entitled to a full pension
  • If your income per fortnight is over $168, your pension will reduce by 50 cents for each dollar over $168

Couples

  • If your income per fortnight is up to $300, you’re entitled to a full pension
  • If your income per fortnight is over $300, your pension will reduce by 50 cents for each dollar over $300

These are the rules for most people who want to claim the transitional pension:

Single people

  • If your income per fortnight is up to $168, you’re entitled to a full pension
  • If your income per fortnight is over $168, your pension will reduce by 40 cents for each dollar over $168

Couples

  • If your income per fortnight is up to $300, you’re entitled to a full pension
  • If your income per fortnight is over $300, your pension will reduce by 40 cents for each dollar over $300

For most people, the age pension cuts off if your fortnightly income exceeds these thresholds:

Category Fortnightly income
Standard pension for singles $1,944.60
Standard pension for couples living together $2,978.40
Standard pension for couples living apart due to ill health $3,853.20
Transitional pension for singles $2,038.00
Transitional pension for couples living together $3,317.00
Transitional pension for couples living apart due to ill health $4,040.00

How much is superannuation?

Superannuation is currently 9.5 per cent – which means that your employer must pay you superannuation equivalent to 9.5 per cent of your salary.

The ‘superannuation guarantee’, as it is known, has been at 9.5 per cent since the 2014-15 financial year. It is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

How do you calculate superannuation?

Superannuation is calculated at the rate of 9.5 per cent of your gross salary and wages. So if you had a salary of $50,000, your superannuation would be 9.5 per cent of that, or $4,750. This would be paid on top of your salary.

The ‘superannuation guarantee’, as it is known, has been at 9.5 per cent since the 2014-15 financial year. It is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.