Far too many Australians have their super split across multiple accounts – and are being charged multiple fees. It’s important to consolidate all your super into one account with one fund. But how do you go about doing that?
According to Australian Securities and Investments Commision (ASIC) data, around three million of us have our super split between two or more accounts, usually the result of signing up with an employer’s default fund when you change jobs.
Legislation addressing this issue was introduced back in 2020, and employees can now nominate their own funds when starting a new job, and employers are no longer able to require an account with a particular fund.
But there are still plenty of people out there who haven’t bothered to gather their disparate account balances for whatever reason, and they are robbing themselves of thousands in retirement.
Earlier this month, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) launched a case against $300 billion fund AustralianSuper over its failure to consolidate the accounts of more than 90,000 members.
How do I find all my super?
The first step in consolidating your super into one account is to find out where it all is, and for that you need the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The ATO offers a few different ways to track your wayward balances. These include online through your myGov account, by filling out a paper form and sending it to the ATO by mail or by calling the automated lost super search line on 13 28 65.
How do I choose which super fund to consolidate into?
Andrew Dadswell, from ASIC’s Moneysmart team, told Forbes that having multiple accounts means paying multiple fees and missing out on potential compound interest gains, both of which can have a massive impact on your final balance at retirement.
“[However], there are some important things you need to consider before making a change,” he says, “including whether you’ll lose any existing insurance cover after consolidating your super funds, and checking that your remaining cover is sufficient.”
He says there are a number of other factors to consider when choosing which fund to place all your super. For starters, do you go with one of your existing accounts or move all your super into a new fund entirely?
Consider these factors.
The No.1 reason to consolidate your super balances are the fees. You want to avoid paying multiple fees with multiple funds.
But when choosing a single fund to go with, you’ll also want to examine that fund’s fee structure: what percentages it charges, and what types of fees.
Typical fees charged by a super fund include administration fees; investment management fees; a high-performance fee if the fund does well; fees for financial advice and for switching investment options.
Even a slight difference in fees charged can compound to a large difference decades later in retirement, so it pays to shop around.
Most super funds offer various types of insurance to members. The most common types offered are life insurance, total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance and income protection insurance.
Take a look at what the different funds are offering in terms of level of coverage and premiums charged. Also make sure to compare these policies to what’s on offer outside your super fund to see if it’s even worth having insurance through super.
It goes without saying that you want to go with a high-performing super fund, but tracking how each of the individual funds are doing on any given metric is difficult.
Advertising for superannuation funds advises ‘past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance’ – but then proceeds to tell you all about the fund’s performance for 30 seconds.
Pay attention to a fund’s performance over a longer period of time. It isn’t wise to jump ship based on a single year of bad results, neither is it a good idea to move to a fund simply because it was the top-ranked last year.
This may sound like a strange one, as all employers are required to pay the 11 per cent superannuation guarantee, but some employers contribute a higher percentage to certain superannuation funds than others, so it’s worth checking whether moving to another fund will affect your contributions.
Do you have super accounts with multiple funds? Have you ever thought about how much it’s costing you? Let us know in the comments section below.