Comparing Super Funds – Online Assistance

Australians are now able to determine which fund their superannuation contributions will go to. There will be a huge amount of information, much of it commercially based, persuading you which fund to choose. There are, however, a couple of useful first-base websites you can visit to gain an objective overview.

The Association of Super Funds Australia (ASFA) has created a new SuperGuru website which offers an easy to follow guide to super and choice. In particular the “Super Smart Planner” calculator allows you to calculate your future retirement income, allowing you to see the contributions you will need to make to reach the income level you think you will require. Also offered on the guru site is a superannuation fund fee calculator which allows users to estimate and compare cost of contributing into any given superannuation funds. Fees are a major factor in the eventual return, therefore it is useful for investors to isolate these costs, and compare them both within the fund, and with other funds. ASFA warns that costs are not the only consideration when choosing a fund. Other issues are:

    • the likely number of years with a particular fund (this is especially important if you are considering an entry fee)
    • the investment options offered by the fund, and whether they are relevant to you
    • the type of shares, property, overseas investments, bonds, or other securities and investment that the fund buys
    • the risk attached to each investment option or the investments of the fund as a whole
    • the fit between the fund and the investor’s portfolio of other investment assets (diversification)
    • the composition of the trustee board and fund sponsor and the investment managers used by the fund
    • the fund’s track record or performance over time (higher investment fees sometimes but not always can be associated with higher returns)
    • the types of services offered by the fund, including the level and frequency of reporting, member education and life and disability insurance, and whether these are important to you.

Smarter Super
The Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA), the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and the Investment and Financial Services Association (IFSA) have combined to produce a free financial literacy guide – Smarter Super – Make the Most of Your Retirement.

The three associations have worked together on the guide to assist employees who are able to choose their own superannuation fund when Choice of Fund is introduced on 1 July. Smarter Super – Make the most of your Retirement helps explain some of the technical aspects of superannuation, and provides useful tips and suggestions.

Copies can be sourced from:

  • The ABA or Phone 1800 009 180
  • FPA or Phone 1800 626 393
  • IFSA or Phone 02 9299 3022.

Other Links are:

    • Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). The site has areas of particular interest to the general public, including:

      • About Super, especially the 10 fact sheets providing background on superannuation and adequacy of retirement income.
      • Super Smart Planner, a sophisticated and technically advanced retirement income calculator so you can calculate what your future retirement income might be, in today’s dollar values. Use the Super Smart Planner to work out what superannuation contributions you need to make to achieve the retirement income you want.
        Go there

    • ASIC’s Superannuation Calculator. This uses a spreadsheet (Excel) to let you see the long term effects of fees, making extra contributions, government co-contributions, reduction in contributions and changing investment strategy or funds.
      Go there
    • Australian Taxation Office:

      • The ATO has information on just about everything you could want to know about superannuation:
        Go there
      • Super Co-contribution. If you earn less than $40,000 a year, and make personal superannuation contributions, the Australian Government will now give you a helping hand with the Super Co-contribution. It means that if your total income for tax purposes is $27,500 or less a year, the Government will match your personal super contributions, up to $1,000 a year, on a dollar-for-dollar basis. For every dollar you put into your super, the Government will put in a dollar, too. The Federal Budget 2004-05 is to change this: From 1 July 2004 the government will contribute up to $1,500 for a personal contribution of $1,000 for people earning up to $28,000, phasing out at $58,000.
        Here’s the ATO’s Super Co-Contribution page: Go There

    • The National Information Centre on Retirement Investments (NICRI) has a number of information sheets for guidance on superannuation:
      Go there

Overview and Planning

  • The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s FIDO site offers Super decisions: Understanding and making superannuation choices (‘Your guide to super’) which you can download. (This is a 1,234KB PDF file.)
    Go there
  • The ANZ bank’s Superannuation Centre has in addition to general information on superannuation, discussion of your needs, tools and calculators, Self-Managed Superannuation Fund (DIY Fund) considerations, explanations of Eligible Termination Payments (ETPs) and rollovers, as well as step by step guide to processing your ETP.
    Go there