Showing superannuation funds based on investment performance of
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Past 5-year return
7.31%
Admin fee

$68

Company
Legalsuper
Calc fees on 50k

$623

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
MyChoice Platinum
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Past 5-year return
7.96%
Admin fee

$65

Company
Media Super
Calc fees on 50k

$490

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
MyChoice Platinum
Go to site
More details

Superannuation is a tax-effective way to build up your retirement nest egg over your working life – ideally so you don’t have to rely on the government pension.

Employer superannuation contributions are mandatory in Australia and have been since 1992. The aim is for all Australians to maintain and enjoy their quality of life in retirement.

As superannuation is a long-term investment, finding a super fund that suits your lifestyle and income is essential. With so many options, there’s a lot to consider when running a superannuation search.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to make your superannuation search easier.

How does superannuation work?

Before you start a superannuation search, it’s important to understand how superannuation works. If you’re an Australian citizen and you’re employed by an Australian company, your employer has to make compulsory superannuation contributions on your behalf. 

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the current super guarantee is 9.5 per cent of your pre-tax income. Given the fact that Australians are living longer into retirement, the rate is set to steadily increase to 12 per cent by 2025. 

When you start a new job, you’ll need to provide your employer with details of your superannuation fund. If you don’t nominate a super fund, your employer will pay your compulsory contributions into a fund they nominate. Once they’ve received the contributions, your superannuation fund will invest the money on your behalf with the intention of growing your account balance steadily, until you retire. 

This is why it's invaluable to keep track of your super, as you may find you've got super money in a number of funds open in your name - particularly from when you first started working. There may also be hundreds or thousands in unclaimed super in your name out there. 

When you’re ready to retire, you can choose to access your super in a lump sum or take it as a regular retirement income stream or opt for a combination of the two. You may also supplement your income with the age pension, but keep in mind that your super balance and any assets can limit the age pension income you qualify for. 

There are a few financial situations where superannuation contributions are not mandatory, including:

  • If you’re an employee and you earn less than $450 a month
  • If you’re under 18 and work less than 30 hours each week
  • If you’re not an Australian resident and you work outside Australia

Superannuation is also not currently compulsory for Australians who are self-employed. Even though it’s not mandatory, it’s recommended that self-employed Australians make super contributions and invest in their retirement.

How can you add to your super?

Employer contributions are generally the main source of super because it’s mandatory for all Australian employers to contribute to this. When you’re running a superannuation search, you may notice that there are various ways you can contribute to your super fund and boost your super balance.

Depending on how much you earn, you may choose to make concessional contributions to your superannuation account. To do this, you can arrange for your employer to salary-sacrifice a portion of your pre-tax salary into your super fund. 

In addition to growing your super balance, there are some tax advantages to making concessional contributions. What you’re essentially doing is reducing your potential taxable income and taking advantage of the fact your concessional contributions will be taxed at just 15 per cent. There are limits, though, to how much you can contribute to your super via concessional contributions.

While concessional contributions are made from your pre-tax salary, you also have the option to make non-concessional contributions from your post-tax salary. This isn’t generally as tax-effective, and there are also limits on the amount you can contribute from your post-tax salary.

Low-income earners may be eligible for the government co-contribution if their income is below a certain threshold and they choose to make non-concessional contributions. Government co-contributions work by adding $0.50 for every post-tax dollar you deposit into your super balance. There is a cap on the amount the government will co-contribute. Low-income earners may also be eligible for the Low-Income Superannuation Tax Offset.

How to search for superannuation funds

With so many different options on the market, searching for a superannuation fund can be complicated.

When you’re conducting a superannuation search, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You’re essentially looking for a super fund that fits your needs and gives you the greatest return on your contributions.

Here are the things you need to compare in your superannuation search:

  • Investment options

Start by looking at what investment options the fund offers and look at the historical performance to get a gauge on what type of returns you might be able to expect. While past performance is not a guarantee for future returns, looking back at the returns in the past five years may give you a very rough idea of the return you can expect.

When it comes to investment options, some people prefer having the flexibility to pick their investments. If you want a fund that lets you choose your investment based on industry or life stage, search for a super fund that suits your preference.

Depending on your level of interest and ability, some funds let members do their own investing. If you prefer a greater say in your investments, look for a fund that gives you the control to put your money where you want it. You may also opt for total control of your superannuation investments through a self-managed super fund (SMSF). 

Some managed super funds offer an ethical investment option. If you prefer your funds to be invested in, say, renewable energies as opposed to mining, then search for a superannuation fund that offers the investment options you’re looking for.

  • Fees

As you cannot predict future returns, experts recommend focusing your superannuation search on funds with low fees. Generally speaking, the lower the fees, the better. As superannuation is generally a long-term investment, fees can add up considerably over time.

Not all fee structures are the same – some funds charge additional fees for extra services like advice or different types of investments. Before you make any decisions, find out exactly what the fees are for and work out if the costs outweigh the benefits. For a full breakdown of any potential fees, use the fund's online services to view its Product Disclosure Statement. 

  • Insurance

When you’re searching for superannuation, you may notice different types of insurance offered by each fund.

The majority of superannuation funds will offer insurance as an option, and one of the advantages of taking insurance through your superannuation fund is that the policies are often discounted. Terms and conditions of insurance funds within super differ greatly, so do your research to make sure the type of cover holds up if you need it and that the premiums are worth the cost.

Common types of insurance within a super fund are:

  • Life insurance
  • Total and permanent disability (otherwise known as TPD insurance)
  • Income protection insurance

It’s worth noting that some funds offer insurance on an opt-in basis, which means that it’s not automatically enabled when you open the super account. If you want insurance, check the details to make sure you’re covered.

How to compare super performance

The tricky thing about super is that, unlike a home loan or credit card, you cannot just look to the interest rate and potential rate of return to compare your options. Just as no one could predict the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic, no one can predict the future, which is why super funds warn that past performance is not indicative of future results.

That being said, when comparing super funds, you are still able to view the past five years returns as a rough gauge of how your retirement savings may fair with said fund. And a super fund with a weak or strong performance history may also indicate how said fund invests its money and takes risks. 

When searching for a superannuation fund, take a look at the super performance against other fund options, but don't take it as the sole reason to join the fund. Unless you have a crystal ball, experts recommend focusing your search on a fund with low ongoing fees.

How to switch your super fund

If you’ve spent some time searching for the right superannuation fund and you’ve compared your options, you may decide to switch super funds. Before you make the switch, look out for any exit or withdrawal fees you’d be charged for moving your super fund to a different fund. Some funds may penalise you for moving and, depending on your age, circumstances and super balance, this may affect your insurance cover and benefits.

In theory, making the switch is relatively simple and can be done anytime you want, but before you make any decisions, we recommend spending some time searching for a superannuation fund that fits your needs and lifestyle.

If you're still not sure how to switch your super fund, consider reaching out for financial advice from a financial adviser, or even speaking with an accountant.

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.

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.

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.

Can I take money out of my superannuation fund?

Superannuation is designed to provide Australians with money in their retirement. The government has strict rules around when people can take that money out of their fund because it wants to prevent people eroding their savings before they reach retirement.

As a general rule, you can only take money out of your superannuation fund when you reach:

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

That said, you can take money out of your superannuation fund early based on one of these seven special conditions:

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

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 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

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.

What are the risks and challenges of an SMSF?

  • SMSFs have high set-up and running costs
  • They come with complicated compliance obligations
  • It takes a lot of time to research investment options
  • It can be difficult to make such big financial decisions

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 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.

How much money do you get on the age pension?

Pension payments can be reduced due to the income test and asset test (see ‘What is the age pension’s income test?’ and ‘What is the age pension’s assets test?’).

Here are the maximum fortnightly payments:

Category

Single

Couple each

Couple combined

Couple apart due to ill health

Maximum basic rate

$808.30

$609.30

$1,218.60

$808.30

Maximum pension supplement

$65.90

$49.70

$99.40

$65.90

Energy supplement

$14.10

$10.60

$21.20

$14.10

TOTAL

$888.30

$669.60

$1,339.20

$888.30

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.

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

When did superannuation start in Australia?

Australia’s modern superannuation system – in which employers make compulsory contributions to their employees – started in 1992. However, before that, there were various restricted superannuation schemes applying to certain employees in certain industries. The very first superannuation scheme was introduced in the 19th century.

What are reportable employer superannuation contributions?

Reportable employer superannuation contributions are special contributions that an employer makes on top of the regular compulsory contributions. One example would be contributions made as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement.

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).

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 does superannuation affect the age pension?

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.

How can I increase my superannuation?

You can increase your superannuation through a ‘salary sacrifice’. This is where your employer takes part of your pre-tax salary and pays it directly into your superannuation account. Like regular superannuation contributions, salary sacrifices are taxed at 15 per cent when they are paid into the fund.

How many superannuation funds are there?

There are more than 200 different superannuation funds.