Taking Control of Your Superannuation: Strategies for a Secure Retirement
Maximising Your Super Balance, Ensuring Fair Contributions, and Making Informed Investment Choices
During your working years, your superannuation works in the background to grow your nest egg and (hopefully) put you on track for a comfortable retirement.
While it’s easy to assume it’s all being managed just fine without you, there are plenty of ways to be proactive.
Check your super balance
To start, it’s a good idea to check your balance to see if you’re on track to achieve your retirement goals.
Whether or not it’s lagging can depend on the type of lifestyle you want later on in life — for example, do you intend to live modestly or will you be doing all the things you put off during your working years, like travelling the world?
You’ll find plenty of estimates around how much super the average person will need to have a comfortable lifestyle at retirement. The government’s MoneySmart website puts it at two-thirds of your pre-retirement income, assuming you own your home outright.
The Association of Super Funds of Australia (ASFA) goes into more detail. It estimates a retired couple will require around $70,806 per year to maintain a comfortable standard of living, while a single person will need around $50,207 (both cases assume retirees own their own home and receive a partial Age Pension).
ASFA estimates of how much you’ll need in retirement (June quarter 2023)
|ASFA Retirement Standard
|Annual living costs
|Weekly living costs
|Couple – modest
|Couple – comfortable
|Single – modest
|Single – comfortable
If your balance isn’t as high as you’d like it to be, there are ways you might be able to address this, such as salary sacrificing or making contributions from your take-home pay.
Review your employer’s contributions
According to a 2022 report by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), 95% of SG contributions are paid by employers without the ATO needing to intervene, so it’s fair to say that most employers take their duties around super seriously. But it’s still worth keeping an eye on things to make sure you’re not being shortchanged.
Under current rules, employers must contribute to your super at least four times a year. But this is proposed to change on 1 July 2026 so that SG entitlements are paid on the same day that employees’ salary and wages are paid.
If you believe your boss has fallen behind on their super payments, consider raising the issue with them before getting the ATO involved. Asking how much super is being paid, how often it is being paid, and which fund it goes to might be enough to remind them of their obligations.
If that doesn’t work and your boss continues to pay your super late or not at all, don’t hesitate to contact the ATO. You can lodge an enquiry once your employer’s due date for lodging super has passed. And if you want to remain anonymous, the ATO also allows for confidential tip-offs.
Check for lost or unclaimed super
If you’ve ever changed your name, address or job, there’s a chance you might have lost track of some of your super. It may be sitting with another super fund in an inactive account, or it may have been transferred to the ATO for safekeeping (at which point it becomes ‘unclaimed super’).
To check, log in to your myGov account and go to the ATO online services section. Under ‘Super,’ you can see the details of all your super accounts — including ones you’ve lost or forgotten about — and see if the ATO is currently holding any super on your behalf.
Think about consolidating your super if you have multiple accounts
It’s not uncommon for people who have worked multiple jobs to have their super spread across multiple accounts. Not only can this be difficult to manage, you might also be paying several sets of fees that are eating into your retirement savings.
To consolidate your super, visit the ATO online services through myGov, select ‘Super’ and then ‘Manage.’ If you have more than one account, you will see the option to transfer your super. This will allow you to move all your super into a single account.
Just keep in mind that any insurance you have through your old funds (such as life, total and permanent disability, and income protection insurance) will end and you might be unable to access the same types and levels of cover through your preferred fund.
Review your investment options
Finally, it might be worth reviewing your current investment option and asking whether or not it still suits your goals. Often, the answer will depend on how much risk you’re comfortable taking on and how far you are from retirement (risk tolerance and capacity).
For example, investing in a large proportion of shares (and other assets with a high risk-vs-return trade-off) can help increase your super’s balance over the long-term, but it can also result in larger losses in bad years.
Someone in their 20s or 30s might be comfortable with this as they will have more time for their super balance to recover, while someone approaching retirement age might be wary of anything that could knock their savings goals off track.
If you’re wondering which investment approach works for you, consider speaking to a professional financial adviser. They can walk you through your options and let you know whether your current investment strategy still suits your needs or could use some adjustment.
This information is prepared by Bridges Financial Services Pty Limited ABN 60 003 474 977 AFSL 240837 (Bridges). Bridges is an ASX Market Participant and part of the IOOF group of companies. This report is prepared by the IOOF Research team for: Bridges Financial Services Pty Limited ABN 60 003 474 977 AFSL 240837, Consultum Financial Advisers Pty Ltd ABN 65 006 373 995 AFSL 230323, Elders Financial Planning ABN 48 007 997 186 AFSL 224645, Financial Services Partners ABN 15 089 512 587 AFSL 237 590, Millennium3 Financial Services Pty Ltd ABN 61 094 529 987 AFSL 244252, RI Advice Group Pty Ltd ABN 23 001 774 125 AFSL 238429, Shadforth Financial Group Ltd ABN 27 127 508 472 AFSL 318613 (‘Advice Licensees’). The Advice Licensees are part of the IOOF group comprising IOOF Holdings ABN 49 100 103 722 and its related bodies corporate (IOOF group). The Advice Licensees and/or their associated entities, directors and/or employees may have a material interest in, and may earn brokerage from, any securities or other financial products referred to in this document or may provide services to the company referred to in this report. The document is not available for distribution outside Australia and may not be passed on to any third person without the prior written consent of the Advice Licensees. The Advice Licensees and associated persons (including persons from whom information in this report is sourced) may do business or seek to do business with companies covered in its research reports. As a result, investors should be aware that the firms or other such persons may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report. Investors should consider this report as a single factor in making an investment decision. The document is current as at the date of issue but may be superseded by future publications. You can confirm the currency of this document by checking the intranet site (links below). The information contained in this report is for the sole use of advisers and clients of AFSL entities authorised by the Advice Licensees. This report may be used on the express condition that you have obtained a copy of the Advice Licensees Financial Services Guide (FSG) from their respective website. Disclaimer: The information in this report is general advice only and does not take into account the financial circumstances, needs and objectives of any particular investor. Before acting on the advice contained in this document, you should assess your own circumstances or seek advice from a financial adviser. Where applicable, you should obtain and consider a copy of the Product Disclosure Statement, prospectus or other disclosure material relevant to the financial product before making a decision to acquire a financial product. It is important to note that investments may go up and down and past performance is not an indicator of future performance. The contents of this report should not be disclosed, in whole or in part, to any other party without the prior consent of the IOOF Research Team and Advice Licensees. To the extent permitted by the law, the IOOF Research team and Advice Licensees and their associated entities are not liable for any loss or damage arising from, or in relation to, the contents of this report. For information regarding any potential conflicts of interest and analyst holdings; IOOF Research Team’s coverage criteria, methodology and spread of ratings; and summary information about the qualifications and experience of the IOOF Research Team please visit https://www.ioof.com.au/adviser/investment_funds/ioof_advice_research_process.