Last week, I appealed for help as I tried what should have been a relatively simple operation – consolidating my two super accounts.
Thanks to those who sympathised. And thanks to two readers who railed at my incompetence. Don’t bother to respond to this post – I still haven’t solved the problem.
I’ve decided to stay with my corporate fund, and wanted to consolidate. But then began another nightmare…
I logged in to my corporate fund and hit “consolidate”, and was taken to a page that said I had two more accounts with this fund, each with an amount in it that I couldn’t explain.
Frustrated, I rang the helpline and got a very pleasant man who offered to help. Unfortunately he had absolutely no idea what was going on.
He couldn’t even explain my various accounts.
He also couldn’t explain why the balances didn’t add up to what they should have done.
He told me that the account I was currently logged into had half the balance I was seeing on my own screen.
He admitted he didn’t really know how to use the online system, and when I asked to be transferred to someone who did, he put me on hold to talk to a colleague.
This process was repeated a few times over the next half hour while he tried to explain the different accounts and balances I was seeing.
I was told, at various times, that the information on my screen was out of date, the information on his screen was out of date, I had been charged an exit fee that I couldn’t see on an account that I hadn’t been exited from and that I had already consolidated my accounts (absolutely not true).
When he tried to talk me through consolidating online, the website simply refused to advance past a certain point. He then had me log into the ATO site via myGov, which showed three accounts with the fund – one of which said the balance was $0, one of which said “Transfer Pending”, and one of which had another completely random number.
That’s six different accounts with six different balances that I have seen in less than an hour.
My helpful helpdesk friend told me the fund was only required to report to the ATO once a year – which means even someone who was really proactive might go a whole year without knowing they had multiple accounts and multiple fees.
I couldn’t consolidate my accounts through the ATO, so I asked the guy on the phone to just do it for me.
He put me on hold (again!) and when he came back he suggested I try logging out of both the fund website and the ATO and logging back in.
Obviously this didn’t fix the problem and I asked him again to just do it, but he said he couldn’t.
His last resort was telling me he would send me a form to fill out and post back. I admit that I got a bit cranky with him at that point.
Not only is that going to take an extra three days minimum to process, I really didn’t feel comfortable putting all my personal details in the post. There’s a reason I get all my banking and trading correspondence sent to me via email.
After an hour and 15 minutes on the phone, yet again I achieved nothing and I still have two (or three?!) accounts with the same fund.
I’m still paying fees on accounts I don’t want, and the fund is making it extremely difficult for me to get out of it.
I feel ripped off by a system that claims to be designed to help me. What do we do about it?
Too Many Funds In Your Super
According to the Productivity Commission, around 30 per cent of super accounts are unintentional multiple accounts that erode the super balance by around $2.6 Billion per year in insurance cover and set of fees.
The Australian government and industry bodies have made some efforts to slash these accounts, but still millions of unintended super accounts are still there.
By law, inactive accounts with balances lower than $6,000 are automatically consolidated. So if your balance is beyond this threshold and you are not consolidating your super, you might be paying for extra fees.
Try visiting your super fund at my.gov.au and click on the section reserved for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
If you go to the ‘super’ tab, you can access all information of all your accounts that may include lost super that the ATO is holding. In the same tab, you can choose which fund you like to transfer and your accounts will be consolidated within several days.
But ASIC recommends that you check other information such as insurance cover and exit fees before you transfer your super.
Remember, some superannuation funds are paying their members with some form of retirement income and even income protection cover, and you might want to consider staying in those funds.
Finally, you should not automatically consolidate your smaller funds into the biggest fund. Check your options as well as your financial situation because there’s also a chance that the smaller funds are suitable for you.
Don’t forget to notify your employer if you are switching your super funds.