Superannuation: how does it work in Australia

Superannuation is money that you save during your working life to use as income when you retire.

Like any other investment, the intent is to increase your super account balance, over the long term, while you’re still working. Once you’ve reached retirement, your super savings are generally converted into a pension, providing a regular income for you to live on.

Understanding how superannuation works in Australia, will help you ensure your money’s being managed the way you want it to.

How superannuation works in Australia

If you work in Australia in any capacity, you must be paid super by your employer. This is paid on top of your annual salary known as the Super Guarantee (SG). This includes many people who may consider themselves self-employed but are employed by their own company or trust.

Currently, your employer must contribute 10% of your salary into super. This rate will continue to increase every year until it reaches 12% in 2025.

The intention behind the gradual increase is to see a greater proportion of retirees relying less on the age pension and more on their retirement savings.

Your Future, Your Super

The Federal Government has also introduced a new set of reforms which will see your super follow you from job to job. This means when you start a new job, your employer will be required to pay super into your existing ‘stapled’ fund, if you don’t nominate a new one.

There is also a new YourSuper comparison tool that assists you in choosing a super product to best suits your needs.

How your super is invested

Many of the principles of investing in super are the same as investing outside of super. The main difference is how your investments are taxed: you pay less tax on investment earnings inside super.

If you are a member of an industry, retail, corporate or public sector fund, your money is combined with other peoples’ super to buy investments. This enables your super to grow in two ways:

  • growth in resale value called capital growth
  • reinvested income such as rent or dividends.

If you don’t actively choose how you want your money invested when you join a fund, you will be placed in a default investment option. These are designed to cater for a large group of people, based on specific investment criteria that the fund must deliver to. Normally, these options have around 60-80% of their funds invested in growth assets such as shares and property.

It’s important to regularly assess how your super’s invested and make changes if necessary. For example, taking a more conservative approach, means you’ll have higher exposure to cash and fixed-income assets as they offer less risk than shares and property.

What are the main types of super funds?

Superannuation funds can be broken down into five different types:

Corporate/employer-sponsored super funds

Some medium to large businesses have their own super fund which is only available to their employees. They can offer tailored fee and insurance arrangements, and a wide range of investment options.

Industry funds

Industry funds were originally established to support employees within a particular sector but most are now open to everyone. They stand by a non-profit, member-first ownership model and re-distribute profits from investments directly to members.

Retail funds

These funds are run by banks, financial institutions or investment companies, designed to give members a vast array of investment options. The company that owns the fund generally aims to keep some profit which is paid to shareholders.

Public sector

Designed for people working in the public sector, these funds have limited investment options but low fees. Profits remain within the fund for the benefit of members.

Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs)

SMSFs enable you to have complete control over how your retirement savings are invested—a private super fund that you manage yourself.

Personal super contributions

The 10% of your salary that your employer contributes into super may not be enough to sustain the lifestyle you currently have, or the one you wish to have, during your retirement.

There are a range of strategies you can implement to improve your retirement savings, like putting a little extra money into your super while you’re still working.

Personal super contributions—those made from money you’ve already paid tax on such as savings or your take-home pay—are tax deductible. These contributions can be claimed against your assessable income when you lodge your tax return.

The rules on personal tax-deductible super contributions

There are rules surrounding tax in super that you should be aware of.

  • Personal contributions are concessional contributions so, they’re capped at $27,500 per financial year1. If you choose to contribute over this amount, you may be required to pay more tax.
  • Your personal super contributions are taxed at 15%2 which is significantly lower than what most people pay on their taxable income (the highest marginal tax rate is 47% if you include the Medicare Levy).
  • Higher income earners (on more than $250,000) are taxed at 30%3 on contributions. That’s a decent extra tax hit—but still a lot less than the top marginal tax rate.
  • If you’re a lower income earner on a marginal tax rate of 15% or close to it, there may be little advantage in making a tax-deductible super contribution. Speaking to a financial adviser can help you decide the best approach.
  • If you’re 67 or over you need to meet a work test before you can make a personal super contribution. This means you must have been employed during the financial year for at least 40 hours over a period of no more than 30 consecutive days.

Tax on super investment earnings

Your super fund pays tax on your behalf for any income or profits your make from your investments. The tax is reflected in the daily unit price for each investment option.

  • Super account investment earnings are taxed at a rate of up to 15%
  • Retirement pension account investment earnings are not taxed.

Bottom line: Super is harder than it probably should be—but better than you think. The mix of a whole range of tax savings, structured long-term investing and regular contributions make it a powerful engine for delivering an anxiety-free retirement.

Source: If you have questions and would like your financial situation to be evaluated, please email us on with your contacts, for an exploratory meeting, at our cost, not yours.

If you have questions and would like your financial situation to be evaluated, please email us on with your contacts, for an exploratory meeting, at our cost, not yours.

Why understanding your risk tolerance can help build greater confidence for retirement

By Ninda Hendy

The content is produced by the Good Weekend in commercial partnership with MLC.
When it comes to our nest egg, some of us are happy to simply rely on the wonders of compound interest to grow the balance. Others, meanwhile, leave it up to their super fund to take a few calculated investment risks on their behalf, confident it will pay off later.

How we feel about the financial risks that we take to grow our superannuation is known as risk tolerance.

In simple terms, an investor with a high-risk tolerance is more likely to risk losing some money occasionally in order to get better long-term results.

An investor with a low-risk tolerance, however, tends to favour investments that are more likely to preserve their original investment.

Risk tolerance is determined by a combination of factors, including your financial experiences, investment goals, what sort of retirement you would like to enjoy and how much time you have to invest.

Understanding your individual risk tolerance is an important step in understanding how super works. Investing based on your tolerance can have a big impact on the money available to you later in life, so it’s well worth taking the time to understand it now.

Growing an appetite for risk

Sydney couple Kiri Yanchenko and Wesley Taylor, founders of Australian skincare brand Amperna, have poured everything they have into their business, both personally and financially. And they are serious about growing their super.

The small business owners contribute 10 per cent of earnings each month to their super to mirror what they would be receiving if they were employed, based on the current national super guarantee.

Yanchenko says her appetite for risk has improved over the years, after watching her parents fight to keep the family home back in the 1980s. At the time, interest rates were hovering at an eye-watering 17 per cent, so making mortgage repayments was tough. Conversations about money were rarely positive, she says.

“That experience definitely determined my appetite for risk. I grew up erring on the side of caution when it came to money,” Yanchenko says.

But her husband, Wes, had a different experience growing up, and together, they decided it was worth taking a few calculated risks with some help from a financial planner.

Their super is diversified into both international and Australian shares, property and cash investments – and it has paid off already, with the couple well on track to retire comfortably.

“At the moment, given our age and where we are in life, we have a higher risk tolerance. So, we’re investing in high risk options,” Yanchenko says, adding that
they have organised quarterly reporting from a financial adviser to keep a close eye on progress.

“There’s some movement in our super balance each quarter, but in our view the longer term financial rewards far outweigh the risks.”

Calculating risk

Determining someone’s risk appetite is an important part of the job for MLC principal financial adviser Pete Brewster. He does this by asking customers a series of questions, before recommending tailored investment solutions.

“With the right context we can understand what you want to achieve and how this fits with your risk tolerance,” he explains.

“It doesn’t make any difference whether you’ve got a lot or a little in superannuation. Either way, you need to understand how your approach to risk will impact your superannuation and investment balances.

“It’s about knowing yourself well enough financially to understand what you’re comfortable with and making sure the investments made on your behalf reflect your risk appetite,” says Brewster.

For example, asset types that investors with a high-risk tolerance might consider are Australian and international shares, residential and commercial property.

“It might even be appropriate for some who are still accumulating assets and have a long-term approach to borrow to invest or ‘gear’. These types of investments may come with a lot of uncertainty day to day, and some risks of short-term losses, with an aim to gain for profit in the medium to long term,” Brewster explains.

In contrast, investors with a lower risk tolerance typically seek more certainty and security, with the knowledge they can withdraw exactly what was invested at any time.

“Alternatively, assets like term deposits or fixed interest investments might be more suitable for people with a low-risk tolerance who are happier to receive a much lower return for their peace of mind, more certainty and less ‘ups and downs’ in the short term.”

It’s a valuable conversation for anyone to have. “Once your appetite for risk is understood, you can have more confidence around your financial future and make better decisions to build your nest egg,” Brewster adds.

Eric Blewitt, CEO of stockbroker AUSIEX agrees. Super is a long-term investment, so you should consider its performance over the longer term. It’s not conducive to apply short-term thinking by tracking the daily fluctuations of the market, he says.

As you get closer to retirement, your financial adviser can help you assess the risk profile of your investments. They can discuss how to best structure your portfolio, which may involve transitioning into assets that are more stable, but still produce good growth and income.

“After all, retirement for many is a 20-plus year outlook. You want your money to continue to grow in a stable manner, as well as being able to withdraw funds to enjoy your retirement,” says Blewitt.

“Planning for retirement is an important exercise that involves investment and tax considerations. It’s advisable to seek advice in both areas to set yourself up confidently for retirement.”

Source: MLC

If you have questions and would like your financial situation to be evaluated, please email us on with your contacts, for an exploratory meeting, at our cost, not yours.

Video – 2022 Focus: Expanding the Opportunity Set

2022 Focus: Expanding the Opportunity Set

With inflationary risks and less accommodative policies likely to increase volatility, PIMCO Group CIO Dan Ivascyn offers strategies that may hedge inflation, broaden the opportunity set and potentially earn stronger returns from more complex areas of the market.

Watch the 8 minute video here.
Source: PIMCO
If you have questions and would like your financial situation to be evaluated, please email us on with your contacts, for an exploratory meeting, at our cost, not yours.

Podcast: Catch 2022: What’s in store for the year ahead

Chief investment officers and economists assess the policy dilemmas and big investment themes of 2022.

In this 54 minutes podcast by Fidelity, Richard Edgar is joined by Steve Ellis, Global Chief Investment Officer for Fixed Income, Romain Boscher, Global Chief Investment Officer for Equities, Anna Stupnytska, Chief Economist, with additional contributions from Neil Cable, Head of European Real Estate investing.

Listen to the podcast here.

If you have questions and would like your financial situation to be evaluated, please email us on with your contacts, for an exploratory meeting, at our cost, not yours.

Source Fidelity –

Fidelity’s CEO and CIO discuss the outlook for 2022

Fidelity International’s CEO Anne Richards and CIO Andrew McCaffery discuss the ‘Catch-2022’ policy paradox and the fifth industrial revolution arising from the need to get to net zero emissions. Hosted by Richard Edgar, Editor in Chief.

Watch the 9 minute video here.

If you have questions and would like your financial situation to be evaluated, please email us on with your contacts, for an exploratory meeting, at our cost, not yours.

Video source – Fidelity

The superannuation puzzle piece you might not be thinking about

By Andrea Sophocleous

When it comes to super, the accepted wisdom is that performance is the most important consideration. That means we often ignore another critical part of our superannuation.

Most super funds include life insurance along with total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance for their members. In fact, more than 70 per cent of Australians who have life insurance do so through their superannuation. Some funds also offer income protection.

So, is it the right option for you?

Suzie Brown, general manager of MLC Wealth at MLC Life Insurance, lists lower premiums, convenience and fewer health checks as the key advantages of insurance through super.

“Because super funds buy insurance for groups of people, they’re paying a wholesale price so often the premiums cheaper. Payments are automatically deducted out of your super, meaning you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket,” explains Brown.

“And as you get cover automatically, you don’t have to do medical or health checks.”

Jeff Thurecht, personal financial adviser at Evalesco Financial Services, says insurance through super is a good choice for anyone working in a high-risk industry.

“There are high-risk occupations that are hard to get cover for [such as construction, mining, demolition, policing and firefighting, or even window cleaning if performed at great heights], so it makes sense to take advantage of group cover,” he says.

One thing to factor in, however, is that insurance through super can reduce your retirement savings because the premiums are deducted from your super balance, explains Thurecht.

“The great thing about compound interest is having that money growing year on year for 40 years, but any dollar taken out is losing that compound benefit. That doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile investment; you just have to make a conscious choice,” he says.

While the insurance you receive in super is a good safety net, you need to be aware if it’s sufficient for your specific circumstances.

“Typically, the default levels of cover in insurance through super are set fairly low because they’re meant to be relevant for everybody,” Thurecht says.

“A good time to review your insurance is as soon as your financial circumstances change – whether it’s taking out a mortgage, having children or increased earnings in your job. You can then look at whether increasing it within your super is a good way to go.”

According to Brown, the sort of questions you should be asking are: What am I paying? Do you have me listed as a smoker? Is my high-risk occupation covered?

“Being classified as a smoker or any other incorrect information could be costing you a loading on your premium,” she adds.

Making a personal choice

39-year-old carpenter Brian Hayes, whose work is primarily on building sites, pays for liability insurance that covers him for any damage done to property or in the event of injury for which he’s at fault.

But he admits he’s not across the cover he receives as part of the insurance through his super. “It’s reassuring to know that I have the extra insurance, but I haven’t checked how much I’m paying in premiums or whether that’s the best option for me,” he says.

“Ideally, I’d like to have the largest possible super balance once I retire, but I’ll be exploring all my options before I make a decision on whether to stick with insurance through super or change to personal insurance.”

Thurecht says that for someone like Hayes, who is assessing whether to pay for insurance through their super balance or through personal savings, it’s important to remember that it’s all your money.

“Consider aspects such as the cost of policies inside or outside of super and whether there are any tax benefits (such as the tax deductibility of income protection) that may come your way,” he says.

And for those who might be looking to switch to a new super fund, first check whether you’re able to transfer the insurance and will continue to be covered.

According to Brown, approaching a new super fund through the lens of insurance will stand you in good stead. “When you’re consolidating or moving super funds, insurance needs to be a consideration,” she says.

“You need to be comfortable that the new fund provides cover for your occupation and your age. If you have pe-existing medical conditions, you may not be able to get the cover you want.”

Overall, if you’re unsure, you can start by talking to your super fund or a financial adviser for a tailored solution.

If you have questions and would like your financial situation to be evaluated, please email us on with your contacts, for an exploratory meeting, at our cost, not yours.

Article source MLC