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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

$91

AMP Bank

$371

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

$84

Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation

$689

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Gold
More details
6.77%

$52

Victorian Independent Schools Superannuation Fund

$527

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Gold
More details
3.15%

$0

OnePath

$1.4k

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Silver
More details
5.65%

$98

Bendigo Bank

$323

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

$750

MLC

$1.1k

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Silver
More details
7.29%

$396

Macquarie Bank

$541

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Silver
More details
6.57%

$57

Alcoa

$417

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Other
More details
6.12%

$0

BOC Super

$415

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Other
More details
4.83%

$650

Oasis Superannuation Master Trust

$1.1k

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

$0

ClearView

$1.2k

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Other
More details
7.05%

$117

Building Unions Superannuation Scheme (Queensland)

$632

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MySuper Platinum7 Year Platinum Performance
More details
7.71%

$78

Hostplus Superannuation Fund

$533

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Platinum15 Year Platinum PerformanceCareer Fund of the Year FinalistBest New InnovationNet Benefit Finalist SR50 Balanced IndexChoice Super of the Year Finalist
More details
7.97%

$96

UniSuper

$361

Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
MyChoice Platinum15 Year Platinum PerformanceNet Benefit Finalist Infinity RecognisedChoice Super of the Year Finalist
More details

Learn more about superannuation

It might sound like wishful thinking, but there are some superannuation funds in Australia that don’t charge fees.

The disclaimer is that not all fees are exempt from being zero. Superannuation accounts have a range of fees that can be applied to your account.

What fees are charged can depend on the type of account it is, the balance of your account and your choice of super fund.

You might already have a super fund that you’re happy with, however it doesn’t hurt to reassess whether that fund is giving you the best returns.

And the fees attached to your super account can make a difference to the amount of money you end up with at retirement.

In Australia, there are five main types of super funds:

  • Retail funds
  • Industry funds
  • Corporate (or company) funds
  • Public sector funds
  • Self-managed super funds (SMSFs)

There are others, but chances are your superannuation resides in one of the above. The fees charged by each of these funds can vary greatly.

Here’s where the ‘no fees’ part is applied to superannuation accounts. Some super funds don’t charge establishment, contribution, and/or termination (exit) fees on an ongoing basis.

For example, industry super funds don’t pay commissions to brokers, which other funds such as corporate funds charge as indirect costs (or fees) associated with the management of your account.

Industry super funds generally charge their members lower fees all round due to being not-for-profit mutual funds.

Some retail super funds attract members by advertising that they don’t charge administrative or management fees. This often requires signing up for some of their banking products. 

Public sector funds also offer members lower fees, although these funds are often restricted to state and federal government employees.

What types of fees are applicable to superannuation accounts?

Here’s a list of the standard types of fees that you could expect to be charged by most super funds:

  • Member or administration fee
  • Establishment fee
  • Contribution fee
  • Investment management fee
  • Switching fee
  • Insurance premium
  • Advisory fee
  • Activity-based fee
  • Termination / exit fee

The most significant fees in the list directly impacting your super balance are the ones that are recurring – for example, admin fees, insurance fees and investment management fees.

If you want to analyse your super account fees, have a look at your super statement to see which ones keep cropping up. Then you can look at other super funds to see how they compare.

You don’t have to switch super funds to alter the fees you’re paying on your account. By understanding the fees applied to your account, you can make a decision as to their relevance.

For example, look at the cost of your super insurance premium; you might find a cheaper insurance policy elsewhere. The same applies to financial advice: does your bank offer an alternative?

Why do superannuation fund fees matter?

Superannuation fees matter because nearly all of them are automatically deducted from your super balance.

Given the number of years you will hold a superannuation account, the fees will have a compounding effect on your net savings.

It’s worth noting that lower fees don’t always translate to higher returns. And some fees, such as financial advice coupled with investment management and/or switching fees, can reap rewards.

Your superannuation goals will depend on many factors including your average annual income, what type of fund you want and the level of investment risk you’re prepared to accommodate.

You don’t have to accept the level of fees charged by your fund. You have the option to choose from an enormous range of superannuation funds and accounts.

MySuper is an option if you want a simple, no-frills superannuation account with a single diversified investment option, a minimum amount of life insurance cover and standardised disclosure of fees.

You can conduct a quick super health check by looking at the fees you’re currently paying. There may be other super funds that could offer you a similar level of return minus certain fees. 

Where can I find information on my super fund’s fees?

As with any financial services product, the product disclosure statement (PDS) is the first place to look for the terms and conditions of the service.

If you have online access to your super account, this is where you can find super statements. Your statement will itemise all the transactions on your account within a specified timeframe.

You could also put in a call to your super fund and get them to take you through their fees and charges. They may also be able to provide you with advice on how to lower the fees you’re paying.

Frequently asked questions

What fees do superannuation funds charge?

Superannuation funds can charge a range of fees, including:

  • Activity-based fees – for specific, irregular services, such as splitting an account after a divorce
  • Administration fees – to cover the cost of managing your account
  • Advice fees – for personal investment advice
  • Buy/sell spread fees – when you make contributions, switches and withdrawals
  • Exit fees – when you close your account
  • Investment fees – to cover the cost of managing your investments
  • Switching fees – when you choose a new investment option within the same fund

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 many superannuation funds are there?

There are more than 200 different superannuation funds.

What happens to my insurance cover if I change superannuation funds?

Some superannuation funds will allow you to transfer your insurance cover, without interruption, if you switch. However, others won’t. So it’s important you check before changing funds.

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?

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).

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.

What is an SMSF?

An SMSF is a self-managed superannuation fund. SMSFs have to follow the same rules and restrictions as ordinary superannuation funds.

SMSFs allow Australians to directly invest their superannuation, rather than let ordinary funds manage their money for them.

SMSFs are regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). They can have up to four members. All members must be trustees (or directors if there is a corporate trustee).

Unlike with ordinary funds, SMSF members are responsible for meeting compliance obligations.

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 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.

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.

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 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.

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 should I know before getting an SMSF?

Four questions to ask yourself before taking out an SMSF include:

  1. Do I have enough superannuation to justify the higher set-up and running costs?
  2. Am I able to handle complicated compliance obligations?
  3. Am I willing to spend lots of time researching investment options?
  4. Do I have the skill to make big financial decisions?

It’s also worth remembering that ordinary superannuation funds usually offer discounted life insurance and disability insurance. These discounts would no longer be available if you decided to manage your own super.

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.

What is an SMSF investment strategy?

All SMSFs are required to have an investment strategy, which should explain what assets the fund will buy and what objectives it will pursue. This strategy must be reviewed regularly.

Issues to consider include how much risk the SMSF will take, how easily its assets can be converted into cash and how it will pay out benefits.

What contributions can SMSFs accept?

SMSFs can accept mandated employer contributions from an employer at any time (Funds need an electronic service address to receive the contributions).

However, SMSFs can’t accept contributions from members who don’t have tax file numbers.

Also, they generally can’t accept assets as contributions from members and they generally can’t accept non-mandated contributions for members who are 75 or older.

How are SMSFs allowed to invest their funds?

SMSFs can invest in conventional assets such as shares, term deposits, managed funds and property.

SMSFs can also buy ‘collectibles’ such as artwork, jewellery, antiques, coins, stamps, vintage cars and wine – although there are special rules that apply to collectibles.

Investments must be made on an arm’s length basis, which means that assets must be bought and sold at market prices, while income must reflect the market rate of return.

As a general rule, SMSFs can’t buy assets from members or related parties.