Most super funds end the financial year barely positive

Most super funds end the financial year barely positive

Superannuation & Retirement Income
Most super funds ended the year just in the black. Photo: Jessica Shapiro

Most super funds ended the year just in the black. Photo: Jessica Shapiro

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The year to June 30 has been one of the most volatile for superannuation account balances since the global financial crisis.

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The year to June 30 has been one of the most volatile for superannuation account balances since the global financial crisis.

SuperRatings reports six of the 12 months have produced negative returns for "balanced" investment options, where most people have their super.

The surprise vote by Britons to leave the European Union, held only one week before the end of the financial year, sent markets into a spin.

The June results are not yet available, but SuperRatings estimates the median-performing fund will return 2.3 per cent for the financial year.

That's a positive "median" return, but SuperRatings' is expecting a big range in returns – between minus 1 per cent and positive 6 per cent.

Some people may have checked their super balance in the wake of Brexit and found that their balance had hardly moved.

That's not because your super fund has found some magic way of investing your retirement savings that is immune from global markets.

Some industry super funds price their investments once a week, which means it will take up to a week for the market turmoil to be reflected in account balances.

It's different with retail funds, those run by the banks and insurers, as they mostly have daily pricing with the balances updated daily. Some industry funds also have daily pricing.

The typical balanced investment option has about half of the money invested in shares – making it the most important asset class in determining the size of the next egg at retirement.

Super funds offer a range of diversified investment options that spread the money between asset classes in differing proportions and specialist options like those that just invest in, say, Australian shares.

But fund members worried by the volatility should sit tight. Switching in reaction to market moves usually only locks in the losses.

Super is, after all, the ultimate long-term investment. That's why for all but those for whom retirement is not that far off, a high exposure to shares through their fund's balanced investment option makes sense.

Kirby Rappell, the head of research at SuperRatings, has noticed for some time now, more retirees and those not far off retirement have been switching from their fund's balanced option to their fund's capital stable option where perhaps only 35 per cent of the money is invested in shares and property.

While this reduces their risk of losing money due to market volatility the higher-exposure shares and property has worked well for older fund members most of the time.

The exception being the financial crisis when during 2008 balances fell by about 30 per cent, leaving older fund members with less for their retirement.

Since then, fund returns have bounced back.

Since 1992, when compulsory super started, the average annual returns of balanced options has been 7.1 per cent, which is more than double the rate of inflation.

Most of us are spending or will be spending decades in retirement. While there's a case for decreasing the exposure to shares somewhat you would still want to retain a decent exposure to shares.

Sydney Morning Herald

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/money/super-and-funds/most-super-funds-end-the-financial-year-barely-positive-20160701-gpw54p.html#ixzz4DbUCAWXj

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