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What is superannuation performance?

When choosing superannuation funds to securely save and grow your retirement wealth, one way to start comparing your options is by looking at a fund’s performance.

Performance, in terms of superannuation, simply refers to the return (as an interest rate) that the fund earns from its investments over a previous time period, such as 5, 7, 10 years, or more.

As your superannuation fund is a type of long-term investment, the performance of the fund itself is important in determining how much your nest egg may have grown overtime in said fund.

However, without a crystal ball it's hard to say exactly how a fund may perform in the future. Superannuation performance is one way to compare funds, but it's important to remember there are other key factors to consider, including fees, investment options, customer service and more.

Why is super fund performance important?

Your final super balance may help determine exactly how comfortably you may retire, so the performance of the superannuation fund is a key factor in just how much you may retire with.

While the past performance of a super fund is not a guarantee of its future performance, it can give you a better idea of what you may be able to expect from different super companies. For example, just because a fund is with a larger, well-known company, doesn’t mean it will always offer greatest rate of return, which its performance may illustrate.

According to research from Kia Swoboda for the Australian Parliament, all being equal, “higher rates of return provide greater levels of retirement income for fund members, potentially allowing for an earlier retirement or a more ‘comfortable’ retirement. While returns can vary significantly from year to year, over the past 25 years the average nominal return has been in the order of 7 per cent.”

The performance of superannuation funds is closely linked to global financial markets and the Australian economy, and returns may fluctuate based on domestic and international economic conditions, such as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, changes in the share market etc.  

As well as looking at super fund performance, it’s important to compare super fees that providers charge, the features they offer, and other pros and cons to make sure you choose the best super fund to suit your finances.

How do you check your superannuation fund’s performance?

To check the performance of your superannuation fund, there are two main ways you can do this: check through your provider’s website or use our RateCity super fund tables.

Your superannuation fund provider should provide you with details around investment performance via its website, or via email. If you’re not sure where to find this, it may be worth contacting your fund’s customer service team for more information.

Another way to view the performance of Australian super funds is to use RateCity’s comparison tables. This tool allows you to filter down and view super funds side by side and see how its performance stacks up over the past 5 years, as well as the financial year to date.

A super fund’s past 5-year return can give you an idea of the past performance of its investments. The higher the number, the better the performance from the fund’s investments in the recent five-year period. Of course, this does not guarantee that you’ll enjoy similar performance in the future if you choose a particular super fund.

If you’re shopping around for a new super fund, a comparison table may assist in helping you work out which funds may best suit your financial situation. Selecting a super fund that suits your financial needs and investment preferences could potentially make a big difference to your long-term retirement plans.

As well as checking the investment performance of different super funds, it’s also important to compare their administration fees and any other annual fees they charge, as well as any other features and benefits they offer. Ratings and awards from SuperRatings can also give you an idea of the achievements that some super funds have earned, so you can see whether these options may be right for your financial situation.

If you're not sure which super fund may be right for you, consider contacting a financial counsellor for more financial advice. Be sure to read the fine print and any product disclosure statement (PDS) before committing to any financial product.

How do you compare super fund performance?

If you’re researching your own super fund’s performance, or if you’re in the market for a new superannuation fund, it’s worth considering comparing fund performances.

As mentioned above, one of the easiest ways to do this is to use comparison tables. RateCity’s comparison tables let you rank super funds by their past 5-year returns, which can give you an idea of the past performance of their investments. The higher the number, the better the performance from a fund’s investments in the recent five-year period.

Of course, this does not guarantee that you’ll enjoy similar performance in the future if you choose a particular super fund. The best choice of superannuation fund for you will depend greatly on your personal circumstances and financial situation, as well as what you want out of your retirement.

Looking at super funds in terms of recent performance is one way you could start your comparison, but it’s often worth considering some other factors before making a choice:

  • Level of investment risk – Higher risk growth funds that invest in high growth assets may potentially lead to higher investment returns that could help grow your wealth. But a more conservative investment strategy could help keep your retirement wealth more secure, especially in uncertain economic conditions. Other investment options to consider include balanced funds and super funds that invest in specific asset classes.
  • Features – Does the fund come with extra financial benefits that you’re likely to use, e.g. insurance, financial planning, discounted home loans etc.?
  • Fees – How much will the super fund cost you each year, and will these fees start eating into your retirement savings? Lower fees may allow you to retire with more money, though the super fund with the lowest fees may not always be the best super fund for your financial situation.
  • Type of fund –Retail funds, industry funds, self-managed funds, and other types of super funds each have their own benefits and disadvantages. If you don't select a specific super fund when you start working for an employer, you may default to a MySuper option. These funds may be relatively simple to manage, with relatively balanced investment options that could offer balanced growth but may only provide basic features and benefits. Take time to ensure you’re in the right type of fund for your financial situation.

What are the top 10 performing funds in Australia?

Curious as to what the best performing superannuation funds in Australia are? While there is more to a super fund than its performance, this information can be crucial in helping narrow down your list of potential super fund options.

Superannuation industry researchers, SuperRatings, provides Australians with a list of its top 10 super funds based on which have the “best” returns. You can filter down your options based on option type (balanced, growth, high growth etc.) as well as the return period (1-, 3- or 5-years, or FYTD).

It’s not just performance that SuperRatings ranks, but also the funds that charge the lowest fees and lowest insurance premiums. As performance is not something super customers can predict, it is recommended that they also compare funds via which charges fewer ongoing costs that may eat into your retirement fund.

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

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 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

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

What are the age pension's age rules?

Australians must be aged at least 65 years and 6 months to access the age pension. This eligibility age is scheduled to increase according to the following schedule:

Date Eligibility age
1 July 2019 66 years
1 July 2021 66 years and 6 months
1 July 2023 67 years

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