Super funds report negative returns for April. What’s going on?

Continuing high inflation pressures and a stuttering economy are finally flowing through to superannuation balances as funds reported their first negative monthly return since October 2023.

Superannuation research company SuperRatings estimates the median balance fell by 1.7 per cent over April. 

The Reserve Bank of Australia left the official cash rate unchanged at 4.35 per cent at its last meeting on 7 May, but Forbes is predicting three more hikes before the end of this year.  

Median funds

Here’s a quick explainer, before we go any further. 

Median balanced super options are funds with a 41-60 per cent allocation to growth assets. Balanced options can appeal to people who want a more balanced mix of growth and defensive assets.  

Investments such as shares, property, infrastructure and private equity are referred to as growth assets. Assets such as cash, bonds and bank bills are considered defensive or conservative.  

Median balanced super funds are measured as an industry indicator. Other types of funds include a conservative or stable fund, with a high percentage of defensive assets and a growth fund with a high percentage of growth assets. There are various levels of investment such as high growth and conservative balanced. 

According to financial analysts LonSec, pension returns similarly fell over April, with the median balanced pension option falling by an estimated -1.9 per cent. The median capital stable pension option is estimated to have fallen by -1.1 per cent over the month while the median growth pension option is estimated to fall -2.0 per cent for the same period.

But back to the main story.

Sticky inflation

“Sticky inflation caught up with investment markets in April as the reality of interest rates being higher for longer was being digested, and this flowed through to super returns,” SuperRatings executive director Kirby Rappell said. 

“But we encourage members to remember that this is the first time in six months that superannuation balances have fallen, and funds are still up over 7 per cent for the financial year with two months remaining.”

Super funds were on a positive run up until March, with median growth funds up 1.9 per cent over the month following a strong 9.9 per cent performance in the 2024 calendar year.

However, superannuation is a long-term game, and Mr Rappell urged people not to be too concerned. 

Navigating change

“We continue to believe there will be ups and downs over the coming months, however, funds have consistently demonstrated their ability to navigate changing markets and provide strong long-term outcomes for members,” he said. 

“Setting and sticking to a long-term strategy remains the best approach to achieving long-term success and we encourage any member thinking of changing their strategy to seek advice from their fund or a trusted financial adviser.”

According to SuperGuide, looking at the past 20 years, which included the tech wreck of 2002-03, the global financial crisis of 2007-09 and COVID in 2020, the median growth fund still returned an average of 7.4 per cent a year. Growth funds have returned positive returns in 26 of the past 31 calendar years. 

Do you monitor your fund’s returns? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Super-switching adviser tactics under fire

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. You keep saying it’s a long game, it is for people who are investors, but for people with small accounts that we access to live, any loss is a loss we never recover that amount – if Interest rates were higher I’d move my money there

    • Be careful doing that because the advantage of aa superannuation account is that your money is in a tax free environment. As soon as you withdraw it and put it in an external environment I.e. the bank, you pay tax on the interest that you earn over $18200

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -