Home Ownership and Superannuation White Paper

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1 Home Ownership and Superannuation White Paper This paper contains general advice about our superannuation products and has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs.so before making any decision about our products based on this advice consider whether it is appropriate for your own objectives, financial situation and needs; and consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) at wwww.rest.com.au or call When you become a member of REST Industry Super, you join the Retail Employees Superannuation Trust, Fund ABN REST Industry Super is issued by the Trustee, Retail Employees Superannuation Pty Limited ABN , AFSL The Trustee has no relationships or associations with any other product issuer that might reasonably be expected to influence us in providing this advice.

2 CONTENTS PAGE 3 Foreword PAGE 4 Executive summary PAGE 5 Retirement income and home ownership PAGE 5 Current status PAGE 6 Emerging trends PAGE 9 Implications PAGE 9 Individuals PAGE 10 Super tips PAGE 11 Case studies PAGE 13 Financial planning industry PAGE 13 Financial media PAGE 13 Superannuation funds PAGE 14 More information PAGE 15 References 2 Home Ownership and Superannuation

3 Foreword REST CEO Damian Hill The REST Industry Super Home Ownership and Superannuation white paper comes at a time when some are abandoning the Great Australian Dream of owning their own home. While historically home ownership in Australia has been very high and an integral part of retirement planning, we are seeing a significant decline in the number of people climbing on the property ladder. In the financial year alone, the number of first home buyers in Australia declined from 190,000 to just 90, With so many Australians choosing not to, or unable to enter into home ownership, it is inevitable that for an increasing number of Australians, buying property will no longer be the largest investment they make in their lifetime. So the question naturally arises: With falling rates of home ownership, what will replace property as the everyday Australians biggest investment? Superannuation is becoming an increasingly important financial decision, as superannuation balances rise in both absolute terms and as a proportion of the total retirement savings an individual has. Despite this, there remains a certain apathy in the community towards super as something to think about later. With declining rates of home ownership, the time is right for Australians to make an attitude shift, to apply the same level of attention to their retirement nest-egg as they previously would have to purchasing a property. And it isn t just individuals that need to change the financial industry, financial media, government and super funds themselves all have important roles to play in altering attitudes. I sincerely hope that some of the data and ideas we present in this paper will assist this shift in taking place and improve retirement outcomes for all Australians. Damian Hill May BIS Shrapnel research as reported Daily Telegraph 26 March 2011, p.16 3 Home Ownership and Superannuation

4 Executive Summary Ten years ago if you asked a 25 year old about the most important financial decision they expected to make, most people might have identified the decision to buy their first home and apply for their first mortgage. But you may get a very different answer if the question was posed now. The home ownership rate 2 for under 35s is declining and superannuation balances are rising as the compulsory system matures. Superannuation is already the second largest financial asset most people have. But it is increasingly becoming the most important financial decision individuals make and in the future could form the largest proportion of an individual s retirement savings. This is especially true for the growing group of people who will not own or have any equity in a home when they retire. Historically, home ownership rates have been high in Australia, at around 80% by retirement age, and so financial advice and government policy has been developed around the assumption that individuals own their home when they retire. However, the home ownership rate for under 35 year olds has fallen from 45% in to 37% in This trend in declining home ownership reflects a combination of both choice and necessity. Some people in younger generations are consciously deciding not to purchase a home. Meanwhile, others want to buy a home but are unable to because of the reduced affordability of housing, especially in capital cities. Meanwhile, the compulsory superannuation system is maturing and average balances are rising across all age groups. For example, in 2000 only 15% of year olds had a superannuation balance above $25,000. But by 2007 this had risen to 27%. 4 Despite this, individuals have adopted a set and forget attitude to superannuation. A vast majority of employees are often not engaged enough to notice their regular super contributions, and most are only reminded annually that they have superannuation when their statement arrives. But the combination of falling home ownership rates and the rapid growth in superannuation balances make it critical that individuals, financial advisers, media and governments shift their views on the interaction between home ownership and superannuation. Individuals need to shift their attitudes towards superannuation accordingly and take the same level of care and interest in it that has traditionally been the case when purchasing a property. Importantly, the long-term nature of superannuation means this process involves more than making one decision. Individuals need to be focused on their superannuation during their whole working life not just a few years out from retirement. This is particularly critical for the growing number of people who will not own a home when they retire. Without additional retirement savings including superannuation savings beyond the compulsory superannuation guarantee - non-home owners face both a smaller retirement income pool and higher post-retirement costs (via rent). Financial planners need to be aware of this declining home ownership rate when discussing financial options with clients. The media needs to be conscious that commentary given around financial options needs to increasingly consider that many people will not own their home when they retire. The government needs to re-examine the adequacy of retirement incomes in light of declining home ownership rates. The Government also has a role in increasing community understanding of superannuation to ensure individuals can make informed decisions about the most important financial asset they will ever own. Superannuation funds also have an important responsibility in educating their members about making the most of their retirement nest-egg. Home ownership is one of the key pillars of Australia s retirement income policy. But it is showing signs of crumbling. This makes it essential that the other pillars, such as other private savings and superannuation, are strengthened to ensure retirement incomes remain adequate into the future. 2 Home ownership measures the number of people who own or are paying off a mortgage on the residence they live in. It excludes property that is owned for investment purposes. 3 ABS (various) Housing Occupancy and Costs and Australian Housing survey 4 ABS (2009) Employment arrangements, retirement and superannuation Australia 2007, Home Ownership and Superannuation

5 Retirement income and home ownership Australia s retirement income policy is a three-pillar approach, consisting of the aged pension, compulsory superannuation and voluntary savings (such as additional superannuation contributions and home ownership). A significant portion of this latter grouping has been in the form of housing, in particular the family home. 5 Historically retirement income policy has assumed that most Australians will own their home when they retire. This has been driven by Australia s high rate of home ownership in the past, at around 70%. 6 Home ownership has traditionally delivered two benefits to retirees. It has acted as a form of private savings, which can be accessed by either downsizing or through products such as a reverse mortgage. All other things being equal, it also results in lower post-retirement living costs, with home owners only facing housing maintenance costs, compared to renters who are required to continue paying rent throughout their retirement. However, younger Australians are not embracing the Great Australian Dream of home ownership as readily as their parents and grandparents did. There has been a decline in the proportion of under 35 year olds who either own their home or are paying a mortgage to achieve ownership. 7 At the same time the compulsory superannuation system is maturing, since it was introduced in As time passes an individual s superannuation nest-egg may increasingly become the most important investment decision they make and may account for the largest portion of their retirement savings. 8 Despite this, many Australians remain disinterested in their superannuation and do not actively monitor and manage its growth. This combination of declining home ownership and a maturing compulsory superannuation system has implications for individuals, government policy-makers and the financial planning industry. Current status Australia has historically had a high rate of home ownership, currently at around 70% across the population. 9 Home ownership is particularly high amongst older age groups. In 2007/08, 83% of over 65s either owned their home outright or were paying off a mortgage. 10 This is split between 78% owning their home without a mortgage and 5% still having a mortgage. Government policy decisions around retirement income policy are also based on the assumption of high home ownership rates. The Henry Review s 11 paper on retirement incomes argued: The great majority of retirees are home owners and the adequacy of pensions has been determined on this basis (with renters receiving separate assistance). 12 According to research by Industry Super Network, on average 78% of retirement savings are made up of house and other property assets. 13 Similarly, in 2007 only 31% of those drawing from superannuation reported that this was their principal source of personal income. Indeed, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that superannuation is not a source of income for many current retirees. In 2007, 54% of 65 to 69 year olds had no superannuation coverage and for over 70s this figure rose to 79%. 14 This existing ratio between home ownership and superannuation, within an individual s total retirement income, means people have traditionally been much more focused on any financial decisions around purchasing a home, than they have been about their superannuation. But the underlying trends around both home ownership and superannuation are changing which has major implications for individuals, financial planners and governments. 5 Industry Super Network (2010) Retirement Intentions, pg 7. 6 ABS (various) Housing Occupancy and Costs and Australian Housing survey 7 Ibid 8 ABS (2009) Employment arrangements, retirement and superannuation Australia 2007, ABS (2009) Housing Occupancy and Costs 2007/08, Ibid Commonwealth of Australia (2009) Australia s future tax system, The retirement income system: Report on strategic issues, pg Industry Super Network (2010) Retirement Intentions, pg ABS (2009) Employment arrangements, retirement and superannuation Australia 2007, Home Ownership and Superannuation

6 Emerging Trends Home ownership rates are declining amongst under 35s in Australia. In , 45% of under 35 year olds either owned their home outright or were paying off a mortgage. This figure had fallen to 37% by (the latest data available). If this pace of decline continued in the subsequent three years, home ownership rates for under 35 year olds could be down as low as just onein-three by mid Fig. 1. Home ownership rates, Australia Total all ages Under Over ABS (various) Housing Occupancy and Costs and Australian Housing survey 16 Ibid 6 Home Ownership and Superannuation

7 Looking ahead, this means that in the future there will be increasing numbers of retired individuals that are renters rather than home owners. Currently only about 15% of retirees do not own their home but the latest data suggests that this could increase substantially in the coming decades. Extrapolating out current data trends in home ownership across age groups suggest that by the time the 45 to 54 cohorts (from the 2007/08 data) reach 65, in the next 8 to 17 years, there is likely to be closer to 20% of individuals retiring without owning their own home. In 18 to 27 years time this is likely to have risen to about 25% of those retiring without owning their own home. By the time the 25 to 34 year olds (in the 2007/08 data) reach 65, in about 28 to 37 years, around a third of this age group may not own their own home. Meanwhile, superannuation is growing in importance as a source of retirement income. As the compulsory superannuation system matures, both the absolute size of an individual s superannuation investment and the share superannuation contributes to total retirement savings are increasing. In 2007, only 12% of 25 to 34 year olds did not have superannuation coverage down from almost 20% since Table 1 shows that balances at each age group for those in the accumulation phase of superannuation are also rising. Table 1. Total superannuation balance of those in accumulation phase, % of each age group. 18 ACCOUNT BALANCE $1-$9,999 $10,000-$24,999 $25,000-$49,999 $50,000-$99,999 Over $100,000 Balance not known or not stated AGE Data showing the median superannuation balances for individuals in the accumulation phase shows similar trends towards growing balances (Fig. 2). In 2000, the median balance for 35 to 44 year olds was $12,760 and the median balance for 55 to 69 year olds was $29,962. By 2007 these balances had risen to $32,283 and $71,000 respectively ABS (2009) Employment arrangements, retirement and superannuation Australia 2007, and ABS (2001) Superannuation 2000, ABS (2009) Employment arrangements, retirement and superannuation Australia 2007, ABS (2009) Employment arrangements, retirement and superannuation Australia 2007, and ABS (2001) Superannuation 2000, Home Ownership and Superannuation

8 Fig 2. Median superannuation balances by age group 20 $75000 $70000 $65000 $60000 $55000 $50000 $ $40000 $35000 $30000 $25000 $20000 $15000 $10000 $5000 $ * *For 2007 this data is This trend towards larger superannuation balances doesn t just mean people have more superannuation when they retire. It also means that people have a larger superannuation investment to manage across their pre-retirement years. Indeed, superannuation is quickly becoming the most important investment people make during their lifetimes, especially for the growing group of individuals that do not own their home. 20 Ibid 8 Home Ownership and Superannuation

9 Implications These dual trends toward lower home ownership and rising superannuation balances have implications for individuals, the financial planning industry, financial media, government policy-makers and super funds. Individuals that do not own their home will need to ensure they have sufficient alternate retirement savings, which may include superannuation savings. As discussed earlier, the median superannuation balance for 55 to 64 year olds was around $70,000 in Unless this is supplemented by other retirement income, like a home or investment property, $70,000 is unlikely to be adequate to support someone through the years of their retirement. Retirees will be heavily reliant on the age pension and associated benefits. Even those individuals that do own a home need to become more aware of their growing superannuation investment and take as much care in decisions around it as they do around other big financial decisions, such as buying a house and all the considerations involved in getting a mortgage and paying the associated taxes such as stamp duty. Beyond standard asset reviews, financial planners and advisors will need to re-think their advice offerings to include options for clients increasingly that do not own their home. Policies also need to take into account the reluctance of some retirees to sell their homes to fund their retirement. Media outlets, such as those who write financial journals and finance columns in newspapers, need to be careful that their general advice on a variety of financial matters also considers the growing number of people who do not own their home. Governments need to develop a retirement income policy which ensures adequate retirement incomes, irrespective of whether or not a person owns their home. Individuals This combination of rising superannuation balances and declining home ownership rates means superannuation is becoming an increasingly important part of retirement income. For most individuals currently in the early and mid of their careers, their superannuation is the biggest purchase they will make and there needs to be increased focus on making the right decisions around this investment. Many Australians have a set and forget attitude to superannuation. When they start a new job they fill in the superannuation paperwork and then rely on compulsory contributions for their nest-egg to grow. Many home owners paying a mortgage undertake health checks every few years to ensure they are getting the best deal possible in their home loan. However, not as much attention is usually paid to superannuation funds. ABS data shows that in 2007 almost one in five 25 to 34 year olds had never even thought about making personal contributions to their superannuation accounts. 21 Indeed, 58% of 25 to 34 year olds are completely reliant on employer contributions to grow their superannuation balances. This falls to 47% for 35 to 44 year olds, but only 9.5% of people in this age bracket have salary sacrifice arrangements in place. Even those close to retirement age, at 45 to 54 years old, are not fully embracing salary sacrifice or personal contribution arrangements, with 36% remaining completely reliant on employer contributions. 22 The self-employed, who are not covered by the compulsory superannuation system, are even less engaged in superannuation with 33% of owners of unincorporated enterprises having no superannuation savings at all Home Ownership and Superannuation 21 ABS (2009) Employment arrangements, retirement and superannuation Australia 2007, Ibid 23 Ibid

10 Super tips For all individuals: Investment choice it is important to consider how your superannuation is invested. The most appropriate strategy will depend on your investment objectives, tolerance for investment risk and the timeframe before retirement. Salary sacrifice making extra pre-tax contributions to superannuation via salary sacrificing could both boost your retirement savings and reduce your income tax. Co-contribution depending on eligibility, superannuation contributions made from after-tax income could attract a top-up from the Federal Government known as a co-contribution up to a maximum of $1,000 per year. Spouse rebate you can top-up your spouse s superannuation if they are not earning income or are earning less than $13,800 per year. You may also receive an 18% income tax rebate for contributions up to $3,000 per year. Consolidate bringing your multiple superannuation accounts together can help you better manage your retirement savings and reduce fees. Lost superannuation check that you do not have any superannuation in lost accounts using the ATO SuperSeeker tool at If you do, then consolidate these to minimise fees and charges. Own or working towards owning your home: get expert financial advice about whether or not you should be making your own superannuation contributions while still paying your mortgage. when you do your regular mortgage health check do a superannuation health check as well. For individuals who won t own a home when they reach retirement age: need to ensure your post-retirement savings are adequate. Paying a mortgage can act like forced savings for home owners. But if you have no mortgage you need to make sure you save for your retirement in other ways, such as by making additional superannuation contributions. need to make sure any financial advice you get is based on not owning your home. 10 Home Ownership and Superannuation

11 Case studies Case study: Paying additional contributions into superannuation vs. mortgage - co-contributions 24 Jack, age 35, currently earns $45,000 per annum. He has an outstanding mortgage of $150,000 with a remaining repayment term of 25 years and his current super balance is $50,000. After considering his budget, Jack has calculated that he would still be able to comfortably meet his typical monthly expenditure if he reduced his take-home pay by $500 per annum. Jack is eligible for the government co-contribution. Let s compare what Jack s net position could be at different ages, in today s dollars, should he decide to reduce his take-home pay by $500 per annum and use this money to either: a) pay off his mortgage more quickly, or b) pay more into his superannuation account by making after-tax contributions which qualify for the government co-contribution. The table below shows that after 30 years Jack could be nearly $7,000 better off, in today s dollars, by paying the additional contributions into his super account. Figures all in today s dollars Age Paying into mortgage Mortgage balance -$150,000 -$80,100 -$16,300 $0 Super balance $50,000 $111,400 $199,200 $349,400 Net position -$100,000 $31,300 $182,900 $349,400 Paying into super Mortgage balance -$150,000 -$85,500 -$28,300 $0 Super balance $50,000 $121,500 $219,300 $356,100 Net position -$100,000 $36,000 $191,000 $356,100 Difference $0 $4,700 $8,100 $6, Results are shown in todays dollars. SOURCE: Rice Warner Actuaries Assumptions: Current salary: $45,000 p.a., increasing in line with inflation. Employer contributions (SG) are 9% of salary. Concessional contributions are subject to tax at 15%. Concessional contribution limits increase in line with inflation but only in increments of $5,000. Investment earnings of 7.3% p.a. net of asset-based fees and tax which is consistent with investment return assumptions used by industry groups and leading asset consultants for funds investing between 70% and 80% in growth assets like shares and property. Fees are in line with REST s Core Strategy investment option. Dollar-based fees increase each year in line with inflation. Inflation of 3.5% p.a., which is 1% above the mid-point of the Reserve Bank of Australia s target for consumer price inflation. No allowance for insurance premiums. The after tax contribution to the super account for the Paying into super illustration is $500 p.a. and remains at this level into the future. Co-contribution thresholds will increase in line with inflation and the co-contribution matching rate will remain at $1 for $1. Once the mortgage is paid off in the Paying into mortgage illustration, the full mortgage payment plus $500 p.a. is assumed to then be paid into the super account until the original 25 year repayment term on the mortgage has elapsed. No allowance for the value of property has been made. Additional contributions to the super account then reduce to $500 p.a. Mortgage interest rate of 7.8% per annum convertible monthly (equivalent to an effective compound annual rate of 8.1%) which is in line with typical bank variable mortgage rates as at 1 April 2011.The starting point for the projection is 1 July Home Ownership and Superannuation

12 Case study: Paying additional contributions into superannuation vs. mortgage - salary sacrifice 25 Edith, age 35, currently earns $200,000 per annum. She has an outstanding mortgage of $400,000 with a remaining repayment term of 25 years and her current super balance is $250,000. After considering her budget, Edith has calculated that she would still be able to comfortably meet her typical monthly expenditure if she reduced her take-home pay by $500 per month ($6,000 per annum). Let s compare what her net position could be at different ages, in today s dollars, should Edith decide to reduce her take-home pay by $500 per month and use this money to either: a) pay off her mortgage more quickly, or b) pay more into her superannuation account by means of salary sacrificing. The table below shows that after 30 years Edith could be nearly $32,000 better off, in today s dollars, by paying the additional contributions into her super account. Figures all in today s dollars Age Paying into mortgage Mortgage balance -$400,000 -$163,700 $0 $0 Super balance $250,000 $536,800 $1,020,700 $1,706,600 Net position -$150,000 $373,100 $1,020,700 $1,706,600 Paying into super Mortgage balance -$400,000 -$227,800 -$75,600 $0 Super balance $250,000 $620,200 $1,131,700 $1,738,300 Net position -$150,000 $392,400 $1,056,100 $1,738,300 Difference $0 $19,300 $35,400 $31, Results are shown in todays dollars. SOURCE: Rice Warner Actuaries Current salary: $200,000 p.a., increasing in line with inflation. Employer contributions (SG) are 9% of salary. Concessional contributions are subject to tax at 15%. Concessional contribution limits increase in line with inflation but only in increments of $5,000. Investment earnings of 7.3% p.a. net of asset-based fees and tax. Fees are in line with REST s Core Strategy investment option. Dollar-based fees increase each year in line with inflation. Inflation of 3.5% p.a., which is 1% above the mid-point of the Reserve Bank of Australia s target for consumer price inflation. No allowance for insurance premiums. The before tax contribution to the super account for the Paying into super illustration is $935 p.m. (which is equivalent to $500 p.m. after deducting personal income tax of 46.5%) until the concessional limit in each year is reached. Thereafter the additional contribution is paid to the super account as a non-concessional contribution for that year after deducting personal income tax. Once the mortgage is paid off in the Paying into mortgage illustration, the full mortgage payment plus $935 p.m. (before tax) is assumed to then be paid into the super account until the original 25 year repayment term on the mortgage has elapsed. No allowance for value of property has been made Additional contributions to the super account then reduce to $935 p.m. (before tax) depending on the projected concessional contribution limits at the time. Mortgage interest rate of 7.8% per annum convertible monthly (equivalent to an effective compound annual rate of 8.1%) which is in line with typical bank variable mortgage rates as at 1 April The starting point for the projection is 1 July Home Ownership and Superannuation

13 Financial planning industry The trend towards declining home ownership also has implications for the financial planning industry. Financial planners need to be aware of the decline in the home ownership rate, especially amongst younger clients. For some clients this may be a conscious choice, for others it may be that home affordability barriers mean it is a goal that cannot be achieved. Either way, the industry needs to ensure that, for clients that will not own their home when they retire, they save for their retirement in other areas, such as through additional superannuation savings. Financial media The assumption of home ownership is particularly prevalent in general financial planning advice provided via the media. The financial media acts as an important source of information for many individuals. This general commentary also needs to start reflecting the shift towards lower home ownership rates, to ensure non-home owners get appropriate information about adequate retirement savings. Government In the 2010/11 Budget the Federal Government announced the compulsory superannuation guarantee will increase from 9% to 12% by The increase will be phased in at 0.25% and 0.5% increments and will not start increasing until This is likely, in part at least, to assist in lifting superannuation adequacy levels as was widely welcomed by the superannuation industry. As superannuation account balances grow, there is also a role for the Government to increase funding for superannuation education programs to ensure people make informed decisions about their retirement savings. These programs could focus on providing general information for individuals such as: how to maximise superannuation savings the level of retirement savings and expenses that people should be aiming for for both home owners and non-home owners the length of time people are likely to be retired for, based on retirement ages and life expectancy trends the importance of superannuation for those outside the compulsory system, such as the self-employed. This process has started, via ASIC research in aimed at better understanding what financial information consumers want and the information that is currently available. ASIC has used this study to develop the MoneySmart 27 website to help improve financial literacy, on which the specific section focusing on superannuation is most welcome. Superannuation funds Superannuation funds also have an important responsibility in educating their members about making the most of their retirement nest-egg. For many Australians, superannuation can be a confusing topic, which is perhaps part of the reason many don t pay it the attention they should. While some funds, including REST Industry Super, do have programs in place to educate their members on a variety of super-related topics such as co-contributions, lost super, salary sacrifice and investment choice, as an industry we must do everything we can to ensure we continue to talk as simply and regularly as possible to our members and the public at large about the importance of super. This is particularly true in light of the findings of this white paper. 26 ASIC (2010) Report 224: Access to financial advice in Australia Home Ownership and Superannuation

14 More Information If you would like more information about the issues raised in this paper, please contact: Nathan Burman on or Sarah Beyrath on Home Ownership and Superannuation

15 References ABS (1996) Australian Housing Survey 1994, ABS (1997) Housing Occupancy and Costs 1995/96, ABS (1999) Housing Occupancy and Costs 1997/98, ABS (2000) Australian Housing Survey 1999, ABS (2004) Housing Occupancy and Costs 2000/01, ABS (2005) Housing Occupancy and Costs 2002/03, ABS (2006) Housing Occupancy and Costs 2003/04, ABS (2007) Housing Occupancy and Costs 2005/06, ABS (2009) Housing Occupancy and Costs 2007/08, ABS (2009) Employment arrangements, retirement and superannuation Australia 2007, ABS (2001) Superannuation 2000, ASIC (2010) Report 224: Access to financial advice in Australia Commonwealth of Australia (2009) Australia s future tax system, The retirement income system: Report on strategic issues Industry Super Network (2010) Retirement Intentions 15 Home Ownership and Superannuation

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