They may look long and tedious, but there are key areas that you do need to check.
At YourLifeChoices, we receive regular comments that superannuation statements are too complex and should be simplified. But that’s no excuse for not checking them.
Most of us want to know three things: what is my balance, how much did I pay in fees and what did my investments return in the last financial year? But there are other areas that you should check. Financial comparison website Canstar and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) offer the following guidance.
1. Are your personal details accurate and up to date?
It may sound obvious, but it can be overlooked in the rush to get to your super balance and it’s crucial that your superannuation fund has all your personal details – name, address, date of birth etc. – and that they are correct. If anything has changed, contact your fund. You may be able to do this online, otherwise a phone call or email will be required.
2. Are your listed beneficiaries still correct?
Listed beneficiaries are the people who will receive your super and any insurance if you die, so it’s important that you’ve named the right people. You may have gone through a divorce or your partner or nominated beneficiary may have died. Maybe you’ve just changed your mind. Whatever your situation, check who you have named and make corrections if needed.
3. Does your fund have your tax file number?
Your super fund needs your tax file number (TFN), otherwise you’ll pay a much higher tax rate on your superannuation earning, your employer contributions will be taxed at a higher rate, and you’ll be unable to make after-tax contributions to your super.
4. Are your super contributions regular and on time?
Your weekly/fortnightly payslip might say that a certain amount is paid into your super every week or fortnight, but don’t assume the funds are in your super account. Check your statement and make sure they really are there. Honest mistakes can happen and it’s best to find out as soon as possible.
Canstar advises that under current legislation, your employer must pay your 9.5 per cent superannuation guarantee (SG) contributions into your super fund at least four times per year, by the quarterly due dates.
5. Is your money invested appropriately?
COVID-19 has resulted in a big increase in the number of people taking an interest in which category their funds are invested and, of course, the returns. If you haven’t chosen an investment option, your funds will generally be in a default mix of growth and conservative assets. You might want to get some advice on whether that is right for you.
6. Are your fees appropriate?
Different funds charge different fees. Canstar says: “Some funds’ fees are reasonable when considered against the features/investment options offered by said fund, but some funds will come with fees that you may consider to be excessive.” You can check and compare at a number of websites, including Canstar, SuperGuide and CHOICE.
7. Are you adequately insured for your needs?
Many people are content to make do with the life insurance provided through a super fund, but you should check that the level of cover is suitable for you.
Would you like to see your super statement simplified? Do you check that your employer is fulfilling its obligations?
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