6th Jul 2016

Superannuation – where did it go wrong?

Superannuation – where did it go wrong?
Kaye Fallick

Wondering why your decades of saving have resulted in such a meagre retirement income stream? Wonder no more – you have been ripped off! 

This week’s Centre for Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) superannuation research talkfest saw a gathering of the sharpest minds in ageing societies and retirement funding from industry, government and academia in the UK, US, Europe, Asia and Australia. But it was Nicholas Morris (formerly Oxford University, now University of New South Wales) who really nailed the discussion on the inadequacy of the Australian superannuation system.

Mr Morris started his presentation by noting that the potential costs of ageing populations have resulted in a world-wide shift to defined contribution schemes.

Australia was considered a world leader in the field after the Keating government’s early introduction of mandatory superannuation in 1992, but Mr Morris states that Australian fund members now face risks previously borne by companies and governments (see below for YourLifeChoices related articles on the issue of risk shift).

He further claims that our legal and regulatory system needs to adapt to help these individuals manage these longevity and market risks, as well as the threat of lower returns created by the ‘rent-seeking’ behaviour of the financial services industry.

So, what are the reasons for inadequate returns? Here are the top five offenders:

  • excessive fees and charges
  • poor fund performance
  • inadequate or inappropriate regulation (including unresolved conflicts of interest, lack of transparency)
  • overly complicated, and therefore costly, industrial structure
  • conflict of duties of trustees and professional advisers


Underlying these structural weaknesses is a fundamental problem in the belief in efficiency of the markets, which leads to light-handed regulation and unquestioning acceptance of high costs.

Mr Morris has hit the nail fairly and squarely on the head. We all too rarely challenge the structure, charges or performance of our financial services industry, in particular those involved in financial planning, managed funds and superannuation funds.

We also rarely ask why our main regulator, ASIC, has failed so dismally when it comes to gaining successful prosecutions against the white collar criminals in our largest financial services organisations. This mirrors a similar lack of vigour when it comes to regulators in North America and Europe. Post GFC, only one major Wall Street banker went to jail for the global collapse.

Sadly, Australia has seen a string of scandals in the banking sector with only a handful of charges against the people involved.

So Nicholas Morris’s observations are a timely reminder of what needs to be done, and quickly, to help the next generation of retirement savers get the returns they deserve.

As we have noted before, the risk of providing retirement income has been firmly placed on the shoulders of individual workers.

Those who are employed full-time and earn a lot will be fine.

Those with low pay or fragmented work opportunities will not.

An enlightened society with a well-structured and equitable retirement savings system would help such people to maximise the returns on their (albeit) low savings/nest eggs.

Sadly, Australia’s current system encourages high fees, poor performance and a lack of governance while the regulators (APRA and ASIC) stand by, wringing their hands and calling for a change in culture.

Perhaps a hung Parliament isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe a feisty crossbench in our 45th government will provide just what we need – tighter regulation and more scrutiny to force planners and managers to really act in the best interests of their individual investors.

What do you think? Do you agree with Nicholas Morris that our superannuation system is structurally faulty? Do you feel that your savings have suffered as a result? Or do you feel that it works well?

Related articles:
Retirement: the risk is all yours
Retirement planning disconnect


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Sorrento Jo
7th Jul 2016
As long as successive Governments continue to use it as their personal banking systems to fall back on, the people who work and pay into it will always be ripped off.
7th Jul 2016
Of course low paid workers who do not contribute extra into superannuation will not do as well as high paid workers who do contribute more. Exactly the same way that the higher paid have more funds to spend on anything, including investing or saving. If the low paid worker arranged his/her finances better and had different priorities the could accumulate more towards their retirement than has happened historically. There is a mindset amongst most that retirement is a long way of, so it is something to think about later. There is some merit in that as in later life, maybe by 50, many become in a position to actually contribute more to superannuation. Unfortunately, successive Governments have then put a cap (getting lower and lower) on maximum annual contributions, thus preventing the years with most potential from being utilised. For the current retired and retiring generation, according to most contributors to this site, any nest-egg that has been accumulated to provide for retirement, is to be preserved at all costs so that they an live mostly on the pension and leave the bulk of the accumulation to their children. Thus completely missing the point of superannuation.
8th Jul 2016
Got it in one, Sorrento Jo.
8th Jul 2016
Sceptic - in most cases similar to mine, there is no way that myself as a lower paid worker could do better to save more and invest in super, such is the structure of todays economy where it's common to be ripped off and overcharged at every turn by those in the retail and trade sector....Nothing much left in the kitty each week, after they get through with you!

Damn right I'm going to hang onto everything I can in regard to Super - not for the kids however - but simply because I might need a good deal of what I've managed to put into super to cater for medical issues likely to pop at any time, after retirement.

If there is anything left over for the kids then good luck to me - and them. When I see what our illustrious, albeit hopeless, politicians get away with - then I have no pricks upon my conscience what-so-ever.
8th Jul 2016
Firstly, Sceptic, it is arrogant and ignorant to suggest that low paid workers are to blame for the fact that their LOW PAY isn't sufficient to allow them to plunge more into super. And let's not forget that low paid workers DON'T enjoy the MASSIVE tax deductions that the rich get for dumping money into super. The more you can put in, the more the taxpayer indulges you. If you are low paid, get stuffed mate! You don't count!

As for your further statement about wanting to live off the pension and leave the bulk of accumulation to children, you - like the government and other privileged - seem to ignore the fact that most of the current retired NEVER HAD SUPER. Their savings nest eggs were acquired through sacrificing lifestyle SO THAT THEY COULD ENJOY OLD AGE AND LEAVE A BIT BEHIND. And now the GREEDY AND SELFISH are demanding that they continue to sacrifice lifestyle so that people who saved less - or got huge taxpayer handouts and generous employer benefits - can have more - while those who couldn't save anything at all and are genuinely needy get not one extra cent!

What the government did in changing the assets test was STEAL the savings of people who put money aside to meet anticipated needs in old age, who planned for their later years but couldn't manage to save enough to counter the impact of economic collapse, and who made extensive personal sacrifice with theirs and their children's future in mind. It's THEFT, and it's a disgrace. But what is worst of all is that it totally destroys the incentive to save and makes a completed farce of an already flawed superannuation system and any PRETENCE to be addressing the cost of aging by encouraging self-reliance.

And for you to try to excuse the government and/or blame the victims of their appallingly bad policies is shocking, Sceptic.

WAKE UP AND SUPPORT A DEMAND FOR BETTER, PEOPLE. And stop defending the indefensible and blaming the victims for problems.
8th Jul 2016
That's right blame all your problems on someone else instead of taking responsibilty from them yourself.

That why we have welfare to provide a pension for those who haven't been able to do so for themselves and it should only provide for the basics of life. If you want more you have to provide for it yourself.

I can't seem to get my head around stealing something that doesn't exist. The pension was way too generous and needed to be scaled back. It is simply unfair a young family has barely enogh to get by each week without any assets to fall back on and pay taxes to support those who get but don't need the pension.

All your post does for me is make me realize how more and more people just expect to live in this great country without as much as lifting a finger yo do so. I think they need a dose of reality myself.
8th Jul 2016
Sceptic; setting aside "if the low paid worker managed (their) finances better" - it smacks of pedagogy, the thrust of your contribution; namely current retirees, organizing affairs to maximize access to a pension could well be the case however, we shouldn't assume to understand each and every individuals' circumstance.
Even allowing for any one persons ideal 'raison d'etre' (reason for being) whereby each chooses to live life as they see fit, yet we are still restricted/constricted by inumerable laws, paradigms, social mores and/or contracts. We are at the mercy of countless 'faceless men' a multitude that either directly or indirectly inflict a compelling influence on our lives, for better or worse.

Ultimately, the Politicians of the day are (and were) responsible for the present 'super' fiasco. The resultant industry; that sprung up from a well - intentioned social program, has subsequently been raped, pillaged, exploited and seemingly left to burn by the very same instigators. Oh yes indeed, they have paid lip service (a trait in which the political animal excels) in their glib attempt to appease we suckers, with little resultant significance.

The greater subject Industry's hierarchy (there being a huge trough and lotsa lil attendant piggies ) still sit pretty regardless of the everyday woes of those reliant on their good governance, dare I suggest honesty. It seems we've been had - again!

Time for the entire Industry, including the useless bloody politicians, to get their collective snouts outa the trough, into the gravel and attempt to right the abysmal mess they've inflicted on us. Gawd help us, it can't get much worse, hmmm ? Oink !!!!
8th Jul 2016
Bonny, nobody CAN provide for themselves in an environment of corruption and dishonesty. The bottom line is that many of us DID provide for ourselves, in accordance with the rules we were led to believe applied and with confidence in the integrity of government. We were deceived. And the system DOESN'T provide for those who can't provide for themselves. It provides for a elite privileged group singled out by bastard politicians from time to time for favoured treatment.

The system WAS too generous, but the change makes it WORSE, not better. Any idiot who supports such a change is part of the social re-engineering brigade who are determined to smash anyone who started out underprivileged or suffered hardship but struggled to try to rise above it. They are the people this government has destroyed - wilfully, maliciously, and very dishonestly. And for NO GAIN TO ANYONE AT ALL WHO DESERVES TO GAIN. Anyone who suggests there was worthy gain from the assets test is either a blind fool or utterly selfish and self-serving. Show me where those with nothing got any extra out of it? They DID NOT! And now the battlers with nothing who are yet to retire are facing massive electricity price rises with LOWER pensions. It's an utter disgrace!

Stop blaming the victims and speak out against it. We are entitled to expect better from those we pay so generously to SERVE THE NATION.
9th Jul 2016
What corruption and dishonesty? I am not aware of any myself. No one has been deceived. Changes happen and you need to be able to cope with chnange. That's life.

The system provides quite well for those who can't provide for themselves. It goes far beyond providing the basics of living. If it doesn't then these people are living beyond their means. Welfare should not be expected to provide the luxuries that some people expect it to.

I agree with the asset changes and what Morrison had to say in that the age oension is welfare. There is nothing wrong with telling it what it is. In fact it is dishonest not it. The only reason people get the age pension is because they have not provide enough themselves for thier old age. This is what welfare is not some other fancy term that's used to make it sound platable.

I am glad to see that we will have another 3 years of the LNP and I hope that those who support them have enough guts to make the hard decisions and reign in that big debt. Our kids and grandkids depend on them doing this so that they can have a good future. Anything else is burdening them with big taxes in many shapes and forms.

I can't see how anyone can have massive electricity bills either. A few solar panels is all it takes to not have to pay much for electricity and big subsidies exist to do this. In fact solar systems are now available with no upfront costs. I have not paid for electricity for years now and get a refund each bill as I produce more than I use. It has paid for itself many times over and has been a great investment.

As I have said anyone that blames anyone but themselves is a victim by their own making.
7th Jul 2016
A lot has changed in the last 8 to 9 years. Not the least being the invention of the smartphone and the ability to use social media to tell the facts on individual situations.

During 2008, not only was the smartphone gaining sales but the GFC happened.
By the end of 2008, I had witnessed approximately $120,000 disappear into thin air from my Superannuation fund. I am 70 years of age today, so I did not have a lot of Superannuation and I had no chance to regain, or attain, enough Superannuation to last into retirement.

The fact our Superannuation is linked to the sharemarket, is something the Politicians and bureaucrats need to change, as your article hints at.
In late 2007, the Australian Sharemarket sat at approximately 6800 points just prior to the GFC hitting.
Today, it sits at 5200 points, give or take 100 points, approximately.
It has never even come close to recovering the losses of the GFC.
In other words, it is a complete disaster - at least for people my age, who never had a chance to recover from the disaster of the GFC.

Politicians and various special interest groups continue to try and deny the damage done by the GFC to both the Superannuation balances of Australians and to the Australian economy
where the damage is reflected in the poor performance of the Australian sharemarket.

On retirement in 2010, I took all my money out of Superanuation. It was not a lot of money and there was no way I was going to leave it at the mercy of the scammers, outright crooks and the lack of action by ASIC, the so called regulator.

Currently, I am in a battle with Centrelink who, on Monday, suspended my Age Pension, due to their inability to understand, or even properly record, buys and sells to my share trading. Monday was of course, the first working day after the election - the election where, only a few days before the actual voting process, Treasurer Morrison announced another sneaky attack on Age Pensioners.
My situation is a direct result of that. The suspension is in place until I can get my tax refund in and Centrelink can assess my likely earnings during the year.
I have appealed the suspension. I won't hold my breath waiting for a fair hearing.

Both major parties are, in my personal opinion, completely out of touch with real people and their situations. They believe their own BS and go off on tangents, such as gay marriage debates, which have no real relevance to real people leading real lives.

Age Pensioners, such as myself, are left in deep distress, as they are left at the mercy of the Centelink Bureaucracy and decisions about our lives are being made by the uncaring bureaucratic process. The age pension system in this country is a complete mess.
Rules can change at the whim of the Government of the day. There is no certainty and no ability to plan our retirement.

Compare that to the UK, who pay me a small part pension. The UK Pension system does not interfere in your daily lives. The age pension in the UK is not income and asset tested.
It is paid anywhere in the world.
In fact, since April 2016, new applicants for the Age Pension are getting a substantial increase in the full UK State Pension.
7th Jul 2016
This pretty much says it all from where we stand too.
"Age Pensioners, such as myself, are left in deep distress, as they are left at the mercy of the Centelink Bureaucracy and decisions about our lives are being made by the uncaring bureaucratic process. The age pension system in this country is a complete mess.
Rules can change at the whim of the Government of the day. There is no certainty and no ability to plan our retirement."
My old dead dad used to say, "Evil is as evil does." He was right.
Well said Fitza.
7th Jul 2016
Does anyone know why Morrison has such a dislike of the elderly retirees? Is it personal or ideological.

He doesn't appear to attack any other group within the society.
Old Geezer
7th Jul 2016
I haven't noticed that Morrison is doing that myself.
7th Jul 2016
Rae, Morrison is a dangerous anti-welfare right-wing animal - just like Joe Hockey, and supported by another one - Corrmanator!
In fact, they made sure Turnbull did not win well by their actions - insisted on Medicare cut-backs (against the advice of their Health Minister), large cuts to Company Taxes, and the Morrison attacks proposed on pensioners & welfare recipients just before the election. It is only a matter of time before Morrison puts up his hand to be PM!
7th Jul 2016
I'm just wondering Fitza if you saw $120K disappear into thin air during the GFC in 2008 how that money wasn't regained when the share market bounced back. I'm in a similar situation age wise, of course saw share prices fall during the GFC but I also saw those prices bounce back not too long after. I too retired in 2010 and am happy to say my Super Fund has looked after me rather well. I guess what it comes down to is choosing the right fund, not thinking you can do better and play the share market yourself. I have seen too many people burnt that way, a couple of close friends got sucked into a scheme which promised them the world and left them with nothing - and I mean NOTHING.
All I can say is if you lost $120K in 2008 you must have had a rather substantial amount in Super. If you pulled that and blew it on the stock market surely you aren't wanting us to feel sorry for you?
ex PS
7th Jul 2016
Fitza, most accumulative funds are now quite flexible, they even allow you to track your account details on line. If you can do this you will probably have a section where you can change your investment mix, here you should find a listing of investment strategies rated from low, low)medium, medium)high or high, the historical earning rates should also be listed with them. So if you are with a reputable company you can choose a low share content, low risk and moderate return solution.
If your scheme does not do this maybe it is time to find another provider?
Old Geezer
7th Jul 2016
Many pensioners buy and sell shares so I can't see why you are having so many problems with Centrelink. I haven't heard anything about Scott Morrison attacking Age Pensioners lately so please give us some more details.
7th Jul 2016
I will try to answer the cynics among you.
So, I was working for QLd Health at the time and in a remote area.
I contributed the maximum voluntary contributions which was around $50,000 per year at the time.
During 2008, I witnessed $120,000 disappear into thin air.
The Australian Stock market has never recovered. Or even come close. You can work out the percentage you have lost but it was 6800 points in late 2007 and closed at around 5300 today.
One of you is confusing (deliberately?) additional payments to their Super and 'recovering all losses'.
In December 2008, I suffered a stroke (stressful job) and struggled through until I turned 65 years on age in 2010. I then retired.

I did some casual contract work for QLd Health most of 2014 and some of 2015, before the rules changed with a new Govt and they hired permanent staff, in lieu of contract workers.
On 1st July 2014, Joe 'the age of entitlement is over 'cancelled my pension completely. It was restored when I lost the contract work and reapplied in Oct 15.

I have been buying and selling shares since 2009. In late 2015 to current date, I have more or less made that a full time job, as at my age (70) it is hard to get any job, or even to interview.

Commsec update my shares within minutes of my buying, or selling. I send the copies of this to Centrelink same day, via the online system (MyGov).

In April 16, Centrelink admitted that, because their massive computer system is so old (1970s technology) they have to change the buys and sells manually - and is struggling to do this.

It was suggested I apply to the ATO to be a sole trader, then Centrelink say, they can treat me differently and will not have to know all the buys and sells.
I consulted a Tax Agent and we did this. Centrelink then agreed that I would keep receiving the Age Pension until I lodged the tax return which we mutually agreed would be around the end of July 16. Centrelink said they can then estimate my earnings for the following year and calculate my Age Pension.
So, all good, at that stage.

A few days prior to the election, Morrison announced he was cracking down on welfare recipients, including age pensioners.
on Monday 4th July 16 at approximately 1000hr, I received a phonecall from a polite staff member in Centrelink, Canberra, who said her Supervisor had decided to suspend my pension until the tax return is submitted. So a political decision, in my personal opinion.
I am asking for a review, as the Centrelink staff have admitted numerous times, they do not really know what they are doing, as all the info has to be inputted manually (they really need a modern, up to date computer system that can do this work manually.

Additional complication is, during June we had the Brexit crisis which said the sharemarket into a tail spin.
The day before the election, it started to recover.
I have to notify Centrelink of any changes above $2000, so I did that on the Friday before the election on the Saturday, as the change was a lot more than $2000.

That is it, up to date. You now know as much as I do.

For the cynics, I also tried to point out to you, that the UK State Pension, funded by National Insurance Contributions, is a right.
It is not income and asset tested. I have never, ever had the UK State Pension Service harassing me.
In April 16, the UK State Pension for new applicants increased - to approximately GBP 155 per week (approximately double that if you convert to Aussie dollars).

The cynics are, in my personal opinion, not accepting just how mean and horrible the Aussie Age Pension system is.
At the other end of the scale, in Sweden, they receive approximately $1000 per week.
Don't take my word for it - you can google it.
I think this treatment of Age Pensioners here, explains why so many are going elsewhere, or returning to their country of birth i.e. Greece, Italy, Thailand, Philippines et.al.

Hope that helps you all.
Old Geezer
7th Jul 2016
A few weeks ago Justin Bolt from Centrelink told people that it wasn't a problem reporting changes above $2000 to Centrelink on Sky Channel's Your Money Your Call. As an aside the Thursday night show of Your Money Your Call is about Super and is usually hosted by Sam Henderson. You can ring in or send an email (I actually got an email today from Sam Henderson asking if I had a question for him tonight).
There are recordings of Your Money Your Call available as well. Google it. If you are interested in super and have some spare time available these shows have some real gems of information in them at times.

I also noticed that Sam Henderson (from Henderson Maxwell) has been appearing on A Current Affair in the last day or so too.

Now if Justin Bolt is telling people how easy it is and wasn't a problem then I'd be trying to contacting him if I had your Centrelink problem.
8th Jul 2016
Old Geezer, your ignorance exceeds your extreme arrogance. What a fool! Haven't hear Morrison attacking retirees, and actually believe the CRAP about Centrelink reporting that is broadcast on BS media. OMG! Clearly you don't live in the real world and you haven't the faintest clue what life is like for real people.
8th Jul 2016
Oh my goodness. Fitza What a mess to deal with and such a feeble excuse. "The 1970 computer system doesn't work" Duh.

So for all the sales of all the very expensive public assets, all the savings such privatisation was supposed to produce, a mining boom and 25 years of growth the governments and Centrelink management, paid heaps by the way, hasn't been able to keep the computer system up to date.

Third world problem. You bet it is.
Old Geezer
9th Jul 2016
All Morrison said was that the age pension was welfare. There is nothing wrong in called a spade a spade. If you call that attaching pensioners then you are reading a lot more into it then the real facts.

Why don't you look up past recording of Your Money Your Call and listen to them? It might actually help you understand things a bit better. Justin Bolt from Centrelink is a regular on Thursday night shows.

Funny the world feels real to me but sometimes some of the stuff people say on this forum makes me wonder what planet they are living on. I guess I don't get myself hung up in things like other people as I prefer to put my energy into working out how even bad decisions can make the world a better place. Life is way too short to dwell upon the negatives of life.
7th Jul 2016
Many people especially women work part time, have breaks with child rearing duties so dont have any Super paid by their employees. Business owners pay Super for employees but cant afford their own. So you are right to say it doesnt work for everyone.

For those who have Super paid by employers, its very hard to work out the system, an many dont have the skills to decide which Comapny to use & rely on the advice of Employers, Investment Advisers or Banks. Many of whom dont invest wisely.

Super Companies rely on share markets, property investments & interest rates staying stable. Well we all know how that works out ! The wealthy of course set up Private Super funds, get tax deductions for putting their money into their private super funds & can direct their Super money where ever they want.

Myself I think cut all the concessions to the wealthy private super owners, allow people to buy a house & get tax concessions like people who negative gear a second property. Raise interest rates so people are encouraged to save. But have funds for people to use to buy a house to live in & pay off, like the old fashioned housing societies.

And of course make the cureent zero tax paying millionaires, mega companies, etc actually pay tax !Hows that for re-organising the world !
7th Jul 2016
Fitz and you have touched on many things which affect many real people. Nicholas Morris has listed general issues - but where are the real hard actions mentioned which are needed to fix it, and more importantly who is going to act? With both Major Parties (especially LNP) not caring / actually hitting pensioners more where they can, who is left to battle for pensioners?
I heard Nick Xenophon also voted in 2015 to bring in the disgusting & misguided changes to the Assets Test from Jan 2017. As he is keen to join with Malcolm to form Government, all those who voted for him should put pressure on him to get this reversed, and implement other measures - such as Age Pension for all as in UK, USA, etc without Assets and Income tests - if one has paid taxes for say 10 years in this country.
7th Jul 2016
That would be great George the problem is the country can"t afford to pay any more Welfare it is struggling as it is.
8th Jul 2016
And that begs an answer to "WHY?" robbo.

After 25 years of huge productivity growth, a once in a generation mining boom, fantastic sales of assets and privatisations for efficiency, downsizing and off shoring for profit etc Why are we struggling so much as a nation financially and why do retirees have to pay the price for whatever has gone wrong with planning?

Is neoliberalism a complete failure and have governments realised it yet?
7th Jul 2016
Paying supposed experts $100,000 plus wages to lose money for super funds and investment companies whilst the investors suffer, these people should be on minimum wage with bonuses based on how much they make for their customers, if they needed to make money for others to make money for themselves, then they would be more diligent, or get out and leave things to those who can do their job.
7th Jul 2016
That's why Industry Funds came about...but the coalition government could not tolerate these funds doing better than their retail counterparts. So they shafted the union representation on the boards to drag down performance. All perfectly legal. And the public said nothing.
7th Jul 2016
I think they get more than $100,000, Vincem.
They give themselves bonuses even if the fund loses money and they justify it by saying that if they weren't so clever, the fund would have lost even more money!
It's case of heads they win, tails you loose.
7th Jul 2016
It should come as no surprise that corporate criminals are a protected species. Those at the top end rarely get the severity of sentence that those at the bottom get. Only yesterday the Wran daughter avoided a jail sentence for the murder of a drug dealer. Whilst I have no issue with this given the type of character who died I do take exception that there are 2 levels of justice.
Superannuation was never going to do well for low income people as it was set up for the well off. The whole concept of tax deductibility for high income income earners tainted the system from day 1. There should be no surprise that poorer wage earners are not going to have a nest egg they can live off. Was never going to happen despite the claims from salesmen giving future values whilst omitting to mention the effects of inflation.
As for fund performance.....Industry Funds who are outperforming Retail Funds have had their union representation attacked.....presumably so that the well performing funds now are subject highly paid leeches from the big end of town and now perform in line with the poorer performing Retail Funds.
You are correct Kaye, there is no scrutiny or accountability for poor performance.
8th Jul 2016
To paraphrase an old saying and bring it into the 21st century of real life in Australia :

"The rich get richer and the poor get Centrelink ".
7th Jul 2016
Let's not try to gild the lily. Our superannuation system is fundamentally flawed. While we have massive government (taxpayer) subsidies and incentives to personal superannuation funds, but allow those funds to be risked, gambled, on products such as property, shares and "managed funds", all contributions put into those funds are AT RISK and history continues to prove that there will be capital losses that will result in the low returns that we are seeing. How many are still suffering from huge capital losses from the GFC???
Until a specific, government guaranteed, fund is established, the ultimate FUTURE FUND, NOBODY can safely plan and rely upon their super to protect them in their retirement. Period. But, how many vested interests will be affected by that decision, as usual, they will get priority above ordinary people!!
Old Geezer
7th Jul 2016
The biggest problem after fees that low paid workers with small balances face is that their super funds have been turned into life insurance funds with big premiums. I came across one fund where a worker had put in $2000 but only had a balance of $200. Most of the money had been paid in life insurance premiums. Fortunately I was able to help this worker claw most of it back.

Workers with multiple funds could be paying multiple life insurance premiums unless they ask for some of their funds not to pay it or to reduce it back considerably. Insurance premiums in super fudns have increased significantly in the last few years.
7th Jul 2016
Yes and the other problem is the formula that is used to predict eventual savings totals. It is totally unrealistic. People expect to have that money at the end and will be sorely disappointed. It gives a false security so they don't bother saving and investing outside super which is also a good idea.

The old whole of life insurance schemes did exactly the same thing.
Predicted a payout of $80 000 and then produced $33000 after decades of contributions.

It is way too late at 60 or 65 to do anything about it as the best savings are made when you are young.
Old Geezer
7th Jul 2016
They should allow you to use your super as a house deposit as it would be a much better investment and in an asset that is well looked after.
7th Jul 2016
Too bad you can't take your house to the supermarket Old Geezer. Sounds like a good idea but there are a lot of arguments against it. Perhaps if what would be Super contributions could be put into an investment property it might have some merit. Chances are though a lot of people would just see it as extra cash in their pocket and live the high life with no thought of their retirement. Keating had the right idea, what a shame the plan was hijacked by the scammers and schemers.
ex PS
7th Jul 2016
The more I read the more I feel that I have been exceptionally lucky with my Super.
I had a combination Defined Benefit Accumulative fund as I salary sacrificed in my last years of work and you can' salary sacrifice into a Defined Benefit Account.
I can remember that the Defined Benefit Account was doing so well that the state government applied to the fund board to have money released into a government infrastructure scheme. I was on the union council at the time and voted no but it went through with no long term detrimental effect to the fund.
In the last six months as their appears to be another embarrassment of funds in the scheme the same thing has happened.
All this and I am retired for five years at the age of 60, it seems that some well run super funds have done well.
8th Jul 2016
Pity those embarrassments of funds were not distributed to the members who contributed rather than The State government.

The only real problem with the defined benefit scheme was the very low final lump sum which did not reflect the very high level of non concessional member contributions.

I always wondered why but you just answered that question. The government has been flogging the returns.
ex PS
11th Jul 2016
Rae, DEFINED BENEFIT, this means that your fund is guaranteed to pay out at a predetermined rate, you are protected from having less in your account at the end of term, but to compensate you can not take out more than has been allocated.
As the funds went to building government assets, the tax payer benefitted and the fund members were no worse off.

7th Jul 2016
The economy of most of the productive countries of the world is one of the greatest factors generating positive returns in the share/stock market. These health of the worldwide economies is dependent on productivity, government stability, and peaceful civil conditions. Until such time that the above these three elements are attained an economy will flounder and so will the share markets and so will our superannuation. The answer to a safer, more secure, positively performing superannuation system is not an easy one while using the share market as the "earner" because of volitilaty, and term deposits, at the moment, pay bugger-all, so where do you invest? A very tricky one, to say the least.
7th Jul 2016
I have very little superannunation as I am an artist. However I had struggled to own my own home, a tiny flat really. Then with only $20,000 needed for the final payment..I got cancer and was given 3 months to live. Lost the job, people are very afraid of cancer. No chance of ever working in my lousey part time job again. The super fund would only reimburse me for costs I had already paid on MEDICAL only. I was forced to sell my home, as I could not go on any support and pay a mortgage...the miserly $30,000 I had then in my super would have made the difference. However I spent the money on cancer treatments overseas and living off it..and am still alive years later. But curse the bastards...they then lost it...and guess what it is now about $14,000 after the 12 years olds they leave in charge gamble it. and now I am old. out of money and still with all the chronic problems associated. They shoudl give it to you in these circumstances.. I wrote I filled in forms..every damn thing. It does not help older women in particular!!!
Old Geezer
7th Jul 2016
If you were given only 3 months to live your super should have been returned to you after you asked for it. A condition of release is that if you had less then 12 months to live (now 24 months) you can have your super released.
7th Jul 2016
doclisa I think there is information missing in your story. You started with $30,000 in super sold your home and "spent the money on cancer treatments overseas and living on it". You now have $14000 in super. That difference of $16000 covers those costs (and then some). Why would you think you should have more in super? I assume as you weren't working you did not add to the capital so where would any extra money have come from apart from interest/dividend payments?
8th Jul 2016
Yes, doclisa, I have worked in Hospitals, as a Social Worker and I have had to deal with too many people whose lives are turned upside down by serious illness. Or, death is the outcome and the relatives are left to pick up the pieces.

I have even seen Centrelink knock back a Disability Support Pension for a NZ male who was given the '12 months to live at best, get your affairs in order' message. Centrelink knocked back the claim on some petty bureaucratic technical issue, claiming he arrived in the country in a month and year that the rules were changing - and therefore, he was not eligible. We fought the case on his behalf and eventually, the claim was granted, by a human being at Centrelink's international agreements section.

This week, in the NT News (Darwin) we have had the story of a well known firefighter who has cancer, having his claim rejected by the Territory Insurance Office.

I get the feeling that the cynics posting on here on this story, were full time public servants who had the old defined benefits schemes and who, so far, have not had to face the serious illness issues that rear their head out of the blue, among the elderly.

I could be wrong - but either way, the average lifespan for people my age who were born in the 1940s, is age 78 years for males and 82 years for females. So time is running out for most people, faster than they realise. The oft quoted lifespans reported in newspapers these days, refer to people born in recent decades and who may indeed live to 90 years plus.

My sporting hero as a kid - Ron Clarke - died last year aged 78.
Mohammed Ali - greatest boxer who ever stepped in the ring - died recently aged 74 years.
Ask not whom the bell tolls for - it tolls for all us elderly!

This magazine needs to do a serious article on the Aged Care system too, in my personal opinion.
Wait until you find out how your money is grabbed by the Aged Care industry, once you enter a nursing home.
The facts alone will be enough to give you a heart attack!!
7th Jul 2016
I too have lost a lot of money in Super over the years with all the market ups and downs etc. The expert say it will come back. But I wonder
7th Jul 2016
There is never any guarantee that investments will always go up. That's why its called "playing the stock market".
Old Geezer
7th Jul 2016
Money in term deposits makes a loss nearly every year after tax and inflation.
7th Jul 2016
Your all correct KSS the share market moves around and OLD Geezer you certainly don"t make much on Term deposits but should get about 3% on some other bank accounts, still not much but you don"t lose your capital.

If you have a bit over have a go at the stock exchange there are some winners to get.
Old Geezer
7th Jul 2016
You don't lose you capital until you sell in the stockmarket either. If you had bought CBA shares in the float at $5.40 you would have paid for them many times over with the dividends and still have a share with a decent price today.
7th Jul 2016
Exactly Geezer which is why the inflation figures and CPI are rigged.
We have massive inflation if the things we actually must pay for was in the basket of goods and not stuff we rarely need.

Aged pensions would rise quite substantially if a true CPI figure was worked out.

I keep a budget and household accounts and the inflation is easily seen even though I shop around and negotiate insurance etc.

Those insurances and rates etc are rising at around 8% annually.
Health costs at 7%. and so it goes on and we are given a cPI every year of around 2%. Lies and statistics.
8th Jul 2016
Correct, Old Geezer, which is precisely why the cruel change to the assets test is so devastatingly damaging. It's FORCING PEOPLE TO SELL when prices are down - people who, in many cases, NEED their savings to last another 30 years and SHOULD morally and ethically (because their savings are PERSONAL SAVINGS in many cases - NOT super and NEVER subsidized by taxpayers) should be able to leave them where they are until prices recover a little so that they are not left poor in their final years.

And in case you've forgotten, it was MORRISON who introduced that wrongful change, with not consideration of facts and no consideration of the enormous damage destroying the benefits of savings for retirement would do to the taxpayer and the nation.
7th Jul 2016
People forget Yes Super took a hit with the GFC but what happened the 3 years prior to that. Look at your returns for the years 2005-8 and then calculate how much was gained very very quickly and how much was lost I bet you are still in front of just getting interest in the bank and paying tax on it . WHY do people moan about the downside and never appreciate the upside.
Strangely you would not notice the downside if it were not for the upside AND even if you had put your money under the mattress you have heaps more by putting it in Super.
7th Jul 2016
Agreed Virginia. These people who say they have lost a lot on their Super must have it in a really lousy fund. I'm in a State Government backed fund and with all the downturns in the stock market I can honestly say my super has never really been affected. Share prices may go down for a day or so but prices usually bounce back to a level higher than they were previously. Where people lose money is by panic selling.
ex PS
7th Jul 2016
Well put Virginia those who lose big with investments are those who panic.
I've lost count of people who remember how much their Super dipped in the GFC, but don't seem to realise that they more than made up for their losses subsequently.
7th Jul 2016
And where do you think people who have self managed Super funds put their money .... In the same shares properties banks and investments that the suer funds use just they choose and sometimes well and sometimes bad like funds.
Old Geezer
7th Jul 2016
To me super is just a tax effective structure to earn tax free income.

I have to admit though my super fund has done very well over the last 20 years even with the ups and downs. It has a balance of many times it's initial balance even after paying me the minimum pension for quite a few years now. It was in couple of those retails funds and going no where so I decided I could do it batter myself which was a good move. As the balance wasn't the much when I first took it over I do everything except the audit. I found a retired fellow who did super audits for a very reasonable price. So I did this for a few years until my auditor died. Then I have to find another auditor and was shocked at how much I had to pay. Meanwhile the software licence I was using to do the accounts was increasing in price every year. I then got offered a package to do the accounts and audit about 5 years ago and it worked out cheaper. So now I send this super accountant all my records and they do the rest.

If I didn't have my own SMSF I would not be in super as I have tried to find an alternative for a couple of years now in case the worse happens without success.
7th Jul 2016
Being a dual citizen of USA and Australia and having Super in both countries, what I realize now is that all Super does for you is reduce your Social Security and Centrelink pensions. If I had held all those monies in a tax deferred or other types of accounts or even gold I would have more all around.
8th Jul 2016
Spot on, whatsupdok. Spot on.

This mean spirited Federal Govt forces you to use your own money to get through retirement, despite the fact most have money because they worked all their lives and paid taxes!

So, as the example I know best, in the UK you pay for the State Aged Pension through your National Insurance Contributions (NICs).
After 30 years, you can claim the full State Aged Pension.
It is a right that cannot be taken away.

There is no income and Asset test. Therefore, the National Pensions Office does not care how much money you have, or continue to earn. You only answer to the Tax Office on earnings.

Not only is the whole of the Aged Pension yours (thus allowing you to at least do some planning in old age) but the UK also has a free National Health Service.

And for those who think our Aged Pension is too much, as some on here claim, then they need to google the Age Pensions paid in some of the EU countries.
7th Jul 2016
The many sad stories in Comments tell of some of the problems of superannuation. However, they generally ignore the biggest problem that the concessions provided to encourage superannuation have been deployed by the big end of town as a full-on tax minimisation program. Further whilst running SMSFs for themselves they have also profited from the retail super funds of the average workers to enrich themselves from the profits. Hence the big end of town has done everything to get super union funds out of the market to increase the business of the retail funds and concurrently put enormous pressure on the Turnbull Government to ensure the continuation of the extra-ordinary concessions allowed for massive contributions to funds. No wonder the majority are angry, the election demonstrates that we are just waking up to the fact that Turnbull and Co are shafting us every which way.
7th Jul 2016
Oh and I forgot that every which way to shaft us included trying to remove Labor's regulation to ensure that financial advisors had to act in a way that put their clients interests first. I shall never forgive then Minister Josh Frydenberg for claiming that investors should be savvy enough to look after their own interests. Yet this guy got re-elected!!
7th Jul 2016
What the government giveth the government can taketh away. Never regards superannuation as anything more than a forced saving device. It is highly risky to use super as a means of securing your old age. My goose always lays all its eggs in one nest, but every year a fox gets them and usually the goose as well. Now our government has a propensity for sending our troops overseas into unwinnable and stupid conflicts with the result we become retribution targets. Don't tell me we're not geese. The Chilcott report applies to our government as much as it does to the Blair government. Don't let them send any more of our kids into other countries' conflicts.
7th Jul 2016
I had promised myself that I would not respond to the message board on this page. However, today sees one of my main issues aired. Superannuation is a complete rip off.
As a retired Human Resources Manager I am well aware that without Superannuation many people would have no retirement funds at all. It is not an issue that people want or feel the need to address. Some form of compulsory savings is of vital importance.
This does not mean that Superannuation is a sufficient or indeed efficient way to save for ones retirement. Superannuation, despite what we have been lead to believe by consecutive governments and the media in general - Is Not An Investment Strategy.
When I was obliged to retire at an early age (57) and unable, due to the prejudice against older workers, to obtain further full time employment it was necessary for me to leave the Super fund that was contributed to be the company. I was advised to invest my paltry sum into an alternative retail Super Fund.
This was a compete disaster. The fund, one of the big ones, was 1. incompetent 2. unethical 3. inexperienced in handling this type of financial vehicle 4. Ineffectual in investment strategy. 4. When we received a Tax Reimbursement (over taxed on redundancy) the Super fund put the proceeds into THEIR OWN TAX ACCOUNT and did not refund it to our account. It took 8 months and intervention from the ATO before they transferred the funds to our account. No compensation was paid by them for this error. 5. Management fees were excessive. 6. They paid the Financial Advisor twice on the same monies in trailing commissions.
At this point we draw a line in the sand and cashed in our Super Fund. This should have taken about 2 months and took a great deal of frustration and anxiety and about 6-7 months for them to finally get the funds returned to us. A great deal of misinformation was given to us in the process. I am still uncertain as to whether we received the correct amount as on several occasions I had need to ask them to correct our account.
We now manage our own finances and have not regretted this in any way despite the many downturns in the Share Market.
7th Jul 2016
Smart choice, Belle.
7th Jul 2016
As far as the last comment is concerned, Johnny tried to justify his actions, No cigar Johnny.
And on his management we are still living with the stuff ups. one GST no problem with the principle but the introduction of it leaves much to be desired. For starters the states should have been compelled to repeal some ineffectual taxes ie stampduties before receiving any GST income, Then the debacle of privatising Telstra what a galah. We are still living with the aftermath of that one and it will cost more to rectify this then what it generated in the first place. What an idiot to sell the infrastructure, now every provider has to build his own network a waste of resources that could have been avoided. Just keep one network in government hands and build the best you can and let them all compete on the same network. But then the dinosaurs in charge have no idea. I could go on if I wanted to but will run out of space. The only thing the election has shown that the two party system is a thing of the past and will go the way of the dinosaur extinct. Look forward to see some comments,
7th Jul 2016
Privatisation purely for ideology and not practical reasons is a great waste.

At the time of the tax cuts by Howard I must admit I thought they were great but I now realise we should never have had them.

Far too many people have been encouraged to take on unsustainable debt.

The public services I value of education, health and a welfare safety net is also compromised by the constant need for people to avoid paying tax. It is a very bad attitude in deed.

Those three public services allow our economy to remain strong.

If we have to pay for those services individually then forget discretionary spending because it won't happen.

Like third world nations people will frugally save for their children's education and their own health and old aged.
There will be little small business and everyone will be so much poorer.
Not Senile Yet!
7th Jul 2016
The constant changes to Compulsory Super makes it a Mockery to stay in any of them!
Stop putting extra in.....start your own....SMF are by far superior and allow you to be in charge!
That is what all the wise investors do.....remove it from Government Control/Changes....and take charge yourself!
Buy God Shares like the rich.....and don'sell them!
ex PS
7th Jul 2016
Start your own SMF by all means but investigate the fees first. A proper scheme is going to cost you over $1,000.00 annually and that is just for the compulsory annual audit.
At least that was the situation when I looked into it, if it still stands I would imagine it is much more now.
7th Jul 2016
On the plus side for some people who are not good with money, super does work. I have a friend who is a spender, but on retirement the money in her fund has made the difference between struggling and being modestly comfortable. She converted to an income stream and the extra helps top up the pension. Not everyone has the ability or interest in managing their own super fund.
7th Jul 2016
You don't have to have a SMSF with all the obligations that come with it. I use a WRAP account where I can monitor and direct my investments. When the time comes that I am no longer able to do that let others take care of it. How much do you want to have when you die. Get real and enjoy it.
ex PS
7th Jul 2016
With successive governments wanting to get involved with super in order to solve their own political financial problems, I feel they should take an interest in how funds are run.
Considering the importance governments place in having a high proportion of people participating in super they seem to be doing very little to regulate the market.
Why shouldn't super providers be licensed? A company that provides super should be required to operate under rules and conditions that protect the client. They should:
(A) Receive a fee only if the fund has made money over the annual trading period:
(B) Default investments into low risk investments unless directed otherwise by the client;
(C) Provide a comprehensive list of risk graded investment options;
(D) Provide the client with face to face general super investment advice prior to sign up;
(E) Agree to partake in Audits undertaken by an independent body;
(D) Instigate a voluntary Board comprising of a fund employees, a fund members, employers and unions.
This Board would be weighted towards employers and employee fund members as they are the primary stakeholders.
Of course the government should be the arbitrator if issues come to a stalemate.
This is roughly how my Super Fund has been run for the last 50 years of my memory and it is one of the best in Australia.
7th Jul 2016
Nobody seems concerned about the pensions politicians receive when they are no longer in government. I think they should lead by example?
8th Jul 2016
Agree with you argydubbaya
7th Jul 2016
Fitza, be careful. Are you an investor or are you in the business of sharetrading??.

As an investor you will be deemed on your share holdings. As a sole trader you will have your profits/income assessed.

Which is better, depends on your net profit as compared to deemed income.
8th Jul 2016
I also have some concerns that if you are a share trader and have a suprer fund you may be classified as being into a transistion to retirement pension which may require yiur fund to pay 15% tax after 1st July 2017 if budget get passed. I know when i was classified as a share trader my pension was classified as a transition to retirement.

I found extra accounting and quarterly BAS GST statements not worth it as a share trader so I moved back to an investor. I don't get the pension so I don't know how each status effects the pension.
7th Jul 2016
Fitza, while it may be true that the ASX 200 has not returned to its peak, i can assume that you have not replicated the market and invested across the entire market. There have been a number of excellent individual results over the past 8 or 9 years. Considering some banks and Telstra were paying dividends of up to 10 to 13% after franking and probably averaging 8 or 9% gross over this period you may well have got your money back plus just in the dividends. People have a tendency to isolate capital gains/losses while forgetting the excellent dividends that were available over time. Even now the average return across the market is around 4.5% and 6% after franking. Reinvesting income alone provides double your money in 12 years so. From the bottom of the market in 2009 the average growth is around 9% pa (65% increase since 2/3/2009) Now add your dividend return even at 6% you have a comfortable 15% return - 4.8 years and if reinvested and (No tax) double your capital Have a look at accumulation indexes which include dividend returns such as S&P/ASX 200 FRANKING CREDIT ADJUSTED ANNUAL TOTAL RETURN INDEX (SUPERANNUATION) are now over 21% higher than their peak in October 2007 then the markets have performed better than most people realise. Major part of returns have been provided as dividends over past few years.

I realise that you require income from your shares to fund your retirement.

i try to make the point that investment strategy is important and remaining in the market is equally as important. Do not consider the market return to reflect the total return do not forget the dividends
8th Jul 2016
If you compare the accumulation indexes not the ASX200 over the oeriod it takes into account things like dividends etc. It will give you a better idea of howvthe market has performed.

Yes you may be lucky enough to time the market but investing while others are fearful takes a lot of nerve. Time in the market riding out the highs and lows will most likely do as as well. If you don't need the capital why worry about what it worth from day to day.
8th Jul 2016
Well, the government has made damned sure that over half a million retirees DO need the capital, and have to sell at losses to sustain themselves. So falling capital values have certainly become a major problem for many.
8th Jul 2016
And most of those affected carefully PLANNED their future according to the rules, but they were cheated by LYING POLIITICIANS - and some here seem to think that as long as they weren't hurt, it's okay. Selfishness prevails.
8th Jul 2016
Any sane person would have realised that this party could not continue and would have planned for the after party. As I have said many times take responsibilty for your life and don't blame the system. Things change so get used to it.

What loses? Now is one of the better times to sell. Most retirees only have lazy bank deposits after already selling at a loss so it should not be a problem to the majority.

When have pollies told the truth? Only fools would believe them especially at election time.

That said I off to do some more exploring of our great country.
8th Jul 2016
Sceptic; setting aside "if the low paid worker managed (their) finances better" - it smacks of pedagogy, the thrust of your contribution; namely current retirees, organizing affairs to maximize access to a pension could well be the case however, we shouldn't assume to understand each and every individuals' circumstance.
Even allowing for any one persons ideal 'raison d'etre' (reason for being) whereby each chooses to live life as they see fit, yet we are still restricted/constricted by inumerable laws, paradigms, social mores and/or contracts. We are at the mercy of countless 'faceless men' a multitude that either directly or indirectly inflict a compelling influence on our lives, for better or worse.

Ultimately, the Politicians of the day are (and were) responsible for the present 'super' fiasco. The resultant industry; that sprung up from a well - intentioned social program, has subsequently been raped, pillaged, exploited and seemingly left to burn by the very same instigators. Oh yes indeed, they have paid lip service (a trait in which the political animal excels) in their glib attempt to appease we suckers, with little resultant significance.

The greater subject Industry's hierarchy (there being a huge trough and lotsa lil attendant piggies ) still sit pretty regardless of the everyday woes of those reliant on their good governance, dare I suggest honesty. It seems we've been had - again!

Time for the entire Industry, including the useless bloody politicians, to get their collective snouts outa the trough, into the gravel and attempt to right the abysmal mess they've inflicted on us. Gawd help us, it can't get much worse, hmmm? Oink!!!!
8th Jul 2016
I was in an Industry Fund up until my retirement. When the crash came a short few years ago, I phoned them to get advice on whether I shld tfr to cash as cash was gaining..I asked if I tfrd, what wld my balance be. $150,000. Oh ok..so for the first time in 20 yrs I made a tfr. No fees incurred as u can have one free tfr per year. When I rec my yearly update, they had only tfrd $130,000. On phoning, I was told, oh yes but thats because we only do our updates once a year or when u actually exit or tfr. WHAT!! I never wld have tfrd if id known I wld have lost $20,000 in one go. Also, even though this super ind fund won 'best', the fees were way too much. To have self managed super, the compulsory accountant fees wld have eaten into any profit. I have estimated that I cld have put my super into the bank in term deposits and made more money. Why cant there be a free fee account for Super, that can be added to, but not withdrawn without an accountant or centrelink approval. Over my working years I made over $100,000 profit on one block of land even when I paid the appropriate capital gains tax. Why cant we do it this way...groan!! Its a rort
8th Jul 2016
I was in an Industry Fund up until my retirement. When the crash came a short few years ago, I phoned them to get advice on whether I shld tfr to cash as cash was gaining..I asked if I tfrd, what wld my balance be. $150,000. Oh ok..so for the first time in 20 yrs I made a tfr. No fees incurred as u can have one free tfr per year. When I rec my yearly update, they had only tfrd $130,000. On phoning, I was told, oh yes but thats because we only do our updates once a year or when u actually exit or tfr. WHAT!! I never wld have tfrd if id known I wld have lost $20,000 in one go. Also, even though this super ind fund won 'best', the fees were way too much. To have self managed super, the compulsory accountant fees wld have eaten into any profit. I have estimated that I cld have put my super into the bank in term deposits and made more money. Why cant there be a free fee account for Super, that can be added to, but not withdrawn without an accountant or centrelink approval. Over my working years I made over $100,000 profit on one block of land even when I paid the appropriate capital gains tax. Why cant we do it this way...groan!! Its a rort
8th Jul 2016
By forcing us (the public) into private superannuation with no protective legislation opened a one way door for robber baron companies to rip us off. The later GFC was a planned disaster which took 3/4 or more of all our superannuation funds and handed it over to the super rich.
Why can't we contribute to the Australian future fund that has done very well?
12th Jul 2016
So why dosen't it get taught in schools
Old Geezer
12th Jul 2016
Simply because teachers don't know anything about it themselves.

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