Working Australians are now able to find out if their retirement nest eggs are sitting in a “dud” super fund or a superstar performer – thanks to the government’s sweeping changes in the superannuation industry.

All super funds will now face an annual performance test and public ranking by the Tax Office as part of Your Future, Your Super package reforms passed by Parliament last week.

This means that trustees for underperforming funds will be forced to  “fess up” and notify their members that their retirement funds are held in a “dud” product. Members have to be notified by October 1.

“If the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority declares a super fund to have failed its performance test, it’s likely to be a death sentence,” Rainmaker director of research, Alex Dunnin told The Australian Financial Review.

And the list of the good, the bad and the ugly has been published. You can find it on the MyGov and the Australian Tax Office websites.

No surprises that industry super funds topped the investment return rankings in the government’s new YourSuper comparison tool.

AustralianSuper and Hostplus came  joint first, with 8.1 per cent annual returns over the past six years.

Next came Local Government Super, which returned 7.9 per cent over the same period, Cbus, which delivered annual returns of 7.77 per cent, the Meat Industry Employees’ super fund, at 7.58 per cent, and UniSuper, at 7.52 per cent.

All of the return figures are based on a 30-year-old worker with a balance of $50,000 in their super fund.

Those which should hang their heads are the Energy Industry super fund, which returned just 4.58 per cent annually, and CBA’s Accumulate Plus Balanced offering, only open to employees of the bank, which delivered an annual return of just 5.29 per cent.

These were followed by AMG, with a 5.38 per cent return, Christian Super’s 5.47 per cent return and OneSuper’s 5.5 per cent. The rankings were the same for members across the 30 to 50-year-old age group.

The Australian Financial Review said there at least 23 default products across 21 different super funds that could face the ignominy of being “publicly labelled” as an underperformer, according to data compiled from APRA’s super fund heat map.

A super product that has underperformed its six-year investment benchmark by more than 50 basis points in the APRA date, could be listed as a potential underperformer.

The 23 products collectively hold about $160 billion in assets across 3.3 million member accounts according to AFR.

The list could include small fund such as Toyota Super which has fewer than 3000 members in its default product and possibly industry heavyweight, REST which manages more than 1.5 million default super accounts, said AFR.

  • Slightly more than half of the underperforming products are managed by a for-profit retail fund and the worst performer is the union-linked Maritime Super.Many funds have lowered their fees since APRA’s “heat map” was released in December.Mr Dunnin said that it was a good move to put super fund performance to the test but cautioned that details of the test must be right.

    Some of the worst performing super funds over the past six years include:

    Maritime Super’s MySuper Investment Option which delivered an average of -1.6 per cent over a six year period.

    • Retirement Wrap’s Westpac Group Plan MySuper delivered -1.3 per cent.
    • Retirement Wrap’s BT Super My Super at -1.3 per cent
    • ASGARD’s Asgard Employee MySuper at -1.3 per cent
    • Active Super’s MySuper Age Based Strategy at -1.2 per cent
    • Victorian Independent Schools’ VISSF Balanced Option at -1.1 per cent
    • Mine Superannuation’s Default Lifecycle at -1.1 per cent
    • Super Directions’ AMP MySuper No 3 at -1.1 per cent
    • Energy Industries Super Scheme’s Balanced at -1.1 per cent
    • Super Directions Fund’s AFLPA & AFL Industry MySuper at -1.1 per cent
    • AvSuper Fund’s AvSuperGrowth at -1.1 per cent
    • Commonwealth Bank Group Super’  Accumulate Plus Balanced at -1 per cent
    • Commonwealth Essential Super’s Commonwealth Essential Super at -1 per cent
    • Colonial First State FirstChoice’s FirstChoice Superannuation Trust at -0.9 per cent.

    How to Compare Superannuation Funds 

    For many Australians, superannuation will be a valuable asset during retirement. So you need to carefully review the funds where you put your hard earned money. 

    While an essential factor to consider, performance is not a reliable indicator to determine that a particular fund is right for you. 

    So aside from investment performance, here are other factors to consider when you need to choose a super fund. 

    Types of Super Funds in Australia 

    Not all funds are available for everyone. Before you start comparing super funds, you should first check which funds are matched to your profile.

    Anyone can join retail funds but some industry funds and corporate funds are restricted to certain demographics. 

    Public sector funds are available for people working for the government while self managed super funds (SMSFs) are privately administered and could only accommodate a few members. 

    Fees and Charges 

    Some funds charge their management fee as a fixed rate, while others take out a percentage of your super balance, while some do both. 

    You may also need to pay withdrawal and investment fees, or charges for extra services, or to become eligible for other products or services. 

    While the charges may look small today, they can add up in the long run. So you need to determine how much you are paying for. 

    Investment Fund Offers 

    Most super funds can provide you with a range of options so you can pick the right investment according to your needs. 

    For instance, if you are still in your 40s, you could still choose investments with high potential growth. 

    But if you are already in your late 50s, you may choose a low-risk investment product that will protect your savings

    In comparing funds, you need to consider how different types of investment options will suit you not only in the next five years but also when you need to stop working. 

    And don’t forget to seek financial advice to check if the investment mix is really fit to your level of risk and profile. 

    Insurance 

    Many super funds are bundled with personal insurance such as life, accident, disability and income protection. 

    Some funds offer the insurance automatically to members while some require another layer of application process. 

    But remember that the insurance package is usually not free. The premiums are directly paid from your super contributions, so it is crucial to make certain that your cover is suitable to your needs.

    Basically, the higher your coverage, the higher the premiums and will affect your investments. 

    Compare different funds to look for the best deal, and ensure that you understand your coverage, how much it will cost, and the process for transferring your cover in case you want to change funds. 

    Other Factors to Consider 

    Looking into one factor alone is not a reliable indicator of future performance. You need to also consider other factors such as the background of the fund manager. 

    In most cases, funds that are managed by established organisations can provide you with the benefits of scale and extra security. 

    Also check what services are available for members such as tools and events that will help you manage or understand your super. 

    Some funds even provide a dedicated corporate authorised representative to answer your queries. 

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