Get to know your super. A guide to help you create wealth through investing in superannuation

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1 Get to know your super A guide to help you create wealth through investing in superannuation

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3 What s so super about super? We re pretty lucky here in Australia. Apart from our relaxed, outdoor lifestyle and the beautiful country we live in, we ve also got some great systems built into our way of life, that make things better for everyone. One of those is superannuation Superannuation or super, as it s known is the taxeffective environment that helps Australians invest in their financial future. It s the key to a life of financial independence. One of the best things about super is the earlier you start investing, the better. So even if you re only starting out in the workforce, or you re 20 years away from retirement, by taking an active interest in your super today you re in control of what your tomorrows look like. The other great fact about super is that it s never too late! If you re still working and earning an income, there are strategies you can put in place for when you re not. This workbook will take you on a super journey, to show you how a little planning now will help you shape the financial future you want. Super fact Your super will probably be the second-largest asset you accumulate in your lifetime, after the family home. So it makes sense to get better acquainted with your super today. Suncorp WealthSmart Get to know your super 1

4 Have you got a plan? Everyone has a different idea of what life after work looks like and obviously this affects how much your retirement will cost. So, in order to understand how much is enough to secure your financial independence in retirement, you need to develop a plan to get there. And remember, even though it might be a long way off, thinking about and planning for your retirement now is important, so you can take control and shape your future. Super vision What does retirement look like to you? Chances are, it s pretty similar to the lifestyle you re leading now only you don t have to go to work everyday! Not many people plan on making drastic changes to the quality of their lifestyle in retirement. And after working hard for all those years, you certainly don t want to see the quality of your lifestyle reduce. But you might be hoping to travel more, for instance, and that takes some planning. It s a little tricky to put an annual dollar value on your financial independence, but a general rule of thumb is to take 65% of your current net income. This is because you will have most likely taken care of large debts and expenses by retirement, like your mortgage and kids school fees. This figure gives you a lifestyle approximately the same as your current one, including the luxuries you have in life today like dinners at restaurants, trips away and gifts for friends and family. Another way to work out how much you ll need to secure your financial independence, is by looking at the retirement lifestyle budget on the opposite page. The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) suggests that the cost of a comfortable lifestyle in retirement is $39,159 per annum for a single person and $53,565 per annum for a couple 2 and they ve broken it down using this budget as a guide. Thinking of relying on the Age Pension to fund your retirement lifestyle? In past generations, people relied heavily on the Age Pension. But today the Age Pension is just $18,229 per annum for a single person, and $27,482 per annum for a couple 3 which approximates the poverty line. 4 43% of people already retired, say they need at least as much money, or more, in retirement as they did when they were working. 1 1 Citibank Retirement Index Number 2, The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, Westpac-ASFA Retirement Living, March Quarter Centrelink rates effective 1 July Melbourne institute of Applied Economics and Social Research, Poverty Lines: Australia, September Quarter Suncorp

5 Your retirement lifestyle This is the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia s (ASFA) breakdown of a lifestyle budget once a person has finished working full-time, assuming they ve paid off their major debt the family home. Though it s important to remember that this is by no means a financially-carefree lifestyle and budgeting is still necessary! ASFA retirement lifestyle budget 5 Your lifestyle needs may differ from this sample, but it provides a guide for you to estimate the cost of your retirement lifestyle. Modest lifestyle Comfortable lifestyle Weekly outgoings Single Couple Single Couple You Housing ongoing only $54.08 $51.91 $62.68 $72.66 Energy $28.81 $38.27 $29.24 $39.65 Food $71.76 $ $ $ Clothing $17.72 $28.77 $38.36 $57.54 Household goods and services $25.73 $34.89 $72.39 $84.80 Health $33.04 $63.77 $65.56 $ Transport $88.31 $90.81 $ $ Leisure $73.72 $ $ $ Communications $9.18 $16.08 $25.24 $32.12 Total per week $ $ $ $1, Total per year $20,981 $30,399 $39,159 $53,565 Your retirement lifestyle How much do you think you ll need for financial independence in retirement? per annum single / couple. 5 Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia Limited, ASFA/Westpac Retirement Living Standard, March Quarter Suncorp WealthSmart Get to know your super 3

6 Working towards a goal So you ve got a lifestyle idea in mind, and an annual goal to help you achieve your financial independence. Now, it s easy to work out a super nest egg target. Looking forward to financial independence Follow the steps below to calculate your goal for financial independence. Step Example You 1. Estimate your annual retirement income $40, Estimate number of years you expect to be in retirement Estimated nest egg goal (1 x 2) (30 x $40,000) Sub-total $1,200, Estimate any lump sum amounts you may need to make significant purchases eg new car, holiday house $100,000 Total nest egg goal $1,300,000 Factor in inflation and investment returns Remember how much bread and milk cost when you were growing up, compared to today? The same rule applies for financial independence in retirement the figure you ve just calculated is in today s dollars. So because you are going to be accessing and using your super in the future, it not only has to keep up with you, but also with the escalating costs of living. What you can buy for $40,000 now is very different from what $40,000 will get you in 30 years time. Your super fund needs to grow your money at a rate that, at the very least, is in line with inflation. But don t forget you re not just saving for retirement your money is invested and your nest egg will grow over time. Your investments will work for you, and the nature of compound returns should see your nest egg grow towards your goal. What are compound returns? The compounding effect is where earnings are paid on the original invested amount, plus its reinvested returns. That means if you invest $10 and you get a $2 return, you re-invest $12 and get returns on that amount, and so on. Your money grows quickly over time. 4 Suncorp

7 The retirement savings gap The difference between achieving the kind of lifestyle you imagine, for as long as you need it, and the kind of lifestyle you ll be able to afford with your current savings, is known as the retirement savings gap. Life expectancies are increasing, and many people risk outliving their savings. Over half today s 65 year olds will live to age 85 or more. 6 Some people will need to fund 30 or perhaps even 40 years in retirement. Many of us have a retirement savings gap because we are not starting to plan and save early enough and are not investing enough in our super. The current level of compulsory employer super contributions in Australia (super guarantee) is 9% of your base salary. Many finance specialists believe this should be increased to 15% in order to ensure a super nest egg that can fund many years in retirement. Relying solely on your current compulsory employer super contributions could leave you short of your goals. This could force you to rethink your retirement expectations, work longer, save smarter, or a combination of all of these. But why take the chance? Being smart with your super now can help you achieve financial independence. What is the superannuation guarantee? 7 Generally, if you are an employee, your employer will make contributions directly to your super fund, on your behalf. This is called the super guarantee. The amount is a minimum of 9% of your before-tax salary, and forms part of your salary package. So, without you having to do much, money is being invested for your retirement. And don t forget, that even though you can t access it yet, it s still your money! Take an interest in where it s being invested and help shape your financial future, today. 6 Australian Life Tables , ABS 7 Association of Superannuation Funds Australia, How super works; the facts about super Suncorp WealthSmart Get to know your super 5

8 Why super? Before 1992 superannuation wasn t compulsory in Australia, and planning for your financial future was left up to individuals and unions to negotiate with employers. And even though it meant a drop in lifestyle, many people relied on the Age Pension to fund their retirement. Today, nearly 20 years after the introduction of super guarantee, Australian workers have more than $1.2 trillion in superannuation assets. 8 We have a three-pillars approach to helping people create financial independence Compulsory employer super contributions (super guarantee) 2. Additional savings and contributions you make to top up your super 3. A government safety net the Age Pension system (which is means tested) So why is super such an effective way to achieve financial independence? The super environment is tax-effective. And the tax concessions available mean you have more to invest, and greater potential to grow your nest egg. Your money is invested in a fund you can choose, giving you the freedom to control your money and your financial independence. All amounts withdrawn from super from age 60 (either as a lump sum or income stream) are tax-free (from a taxed fund). Your money is locked away until your preservation age, which provides the benefit of forcing you to save, and preventing you from dipping into your super account over the years. And because of the preserved nature of super, what you invest into super today has the potential to grow exponentially over time. Plus, your employer super guarantee is a starting point to help you invest in your financial independence. 8 APRA, Quarterly Superannuation Performance, March 2010 (issued June 2010), 9 Averting the old age crisis a World Bank Policy Research Report and 6 Suncorp

9 Your super, your choice Investment choice Financial independence in retirement can be achieved by investing into super earlier, contributing appropriate amounts, and managing your investment choices. Most super funds offer you investment choice, which is a handson way to get involved in, and grow, your super. You can usually choose between five categories of investment portfolio, typically defined as: Secure Conservative Balanced Growth High Growth Choosing the right investment option for your situation and strategy is vital to ensure your super reaches the growth potential needed to provide the kind of lifestyle you want. Your choice of investment portfolio structure could be determined from several factors, including: how far from retirement you are how much you are currently saving for retirement how much you aim to save your willingness to invest in volatile markets (your risk tolerance). Suncorp WealthSmart Get to know your super 7

10 Your risk profile Before you choose an investment option, you need to know what type of investor you are. This is called your risk profile. All forms of investing carry some degree of risk, and you should consider how risk can affect your investment. The relationship between risk and return can generally be defined as: the higher the level of risk, the higher the potential long-term return. Your risk tolerance Your tolerance to risk forms part of your risk profile. Understanding your risk tolerance can help you choose investments you are comfortable with and that match your retirement goals. So, consider how much volatility (that is, the ups and downs of investment markets) you are prepared to tolerate for future investment gains. Understanding the asset classes To understand the risk/return relationship and how it relates to your investments, it helps to be familiar with the asset classes that you re investing in. Asset classes can broadly be divided into two groups: growth assets, which include shares and property; and defensive assets, which include fixed interest and cash. Cash (defensive asset) Cash is the most secure of all the asset classes. Returns are stable, however returns on cash investments alone may not be enough for you to achieve long-term goals and may over time become eroded in value by the effect of inflation. Fixed interest (defensive asset) Fixed interest is a relatively conservative investment option. Fixed interest funds generally aim to provide returns higher than cash, but with a relatively low degree of fluctuations in capital values. Property (growth asset) Property is a growth asset with greater risk of fluctuations in returns than cash or fixed interest. However, historically, property has had lower variability in returns than shares. Shares (growth asset) Shares represent a part ( shared ) ownership in a company and are considered the riskiest of the various asset classes, as their value tends to fluctuate the most. However, historically, over the long term, returns from shares have outperformed those of other asset classes. Share funds can comprise either Australian or international shares. 8 Suncorp

11 Understanding risk and return If you understand investment basics, including what to expect from your investments, you re more likely to have peace of mind during periods of under performance. When you re investing through super, stay informed and be confident in your long-term investment strategy, so you don t make knee-jerk reactions to market fluctuations. Your financial planner can help you identify your tolerance to risk and help you choose an appropriate investment strategy that matches your investment goals. The following graph illustrates the relationship between risk and return. Growth assets like shares have the potential to provide higher returns, but they are also the most volatile. High Shares Property RETURN Fixed interest Cash Growth assets Defensive assets Low RISK High Time is your friend It may seem contradictory, but actually depending on your age, investment profile, and years to retirement, there can be risk in choosing an investment portfolio that is too defensive. If you re a long way from retirement, the potential longterm higher returns of a more aggressive portfolio may be necessary to allow compound interest to fully work for you and to smooth out market fluctuations over the years, in order to meet your goals. Speak to your financial planner about your risk profile and take an active interest in where your super is invested. Your financial planner can recommend investments to suit your risk profile. Suncorp WealthSmart Get to know your super 9

12 Understanding risk and return Building your portfolio When it comes to building their portfolio, many people like to leave the hard work to the experts. But some people prefer to build their own, by specifically choosing the type and proportion of each asset class, and choosing different fund managers across the different asset classes. Once you and your planner have discussed investing and your attitude to risk, you may decide to invest via a multimanager fund, where a selection of professional investment managers research and select the underlying investments for you. Or, you and your planner can build your portfolio together by choosing the individual investments yourselves. What about negative returns? However you build your portfolio, your risk tolerance will determine where you invest your money. You may experience periods of negative returns due to market fluctuations, particularly when you invest in more aggressive assets. But remember that markets move in cycles, and generally speaking, the long-term trend of investments has always been upwards. Below is a graph of the Australian sharemarket, since Federation. While there are definite periods of negative returns (such as the Great Depression, the 1987 market crash, and the Global Financial Crisis) you can see that overall, the value has grown over time. Diversification A good way to smooth out the bumps in your super returns is to spread your money across a range of asset classes. This is called diversification, and it s one of the most reliable ways to reduce volatility and portfolio risk. Investing through a multi-manager can be a good way to achieve diversification. What is multi-manager investing? Multi-manager funds contain a mixture of asset classes (like shares, property and cash investments) blended together to suit the risk profile of their investors. Multimanager funds are then invested into multiple fund managers, and multiple types of investments. So, by investing through a multi-manger, your portfolio can be diversified across a combination of fund managers, asset classes, and also across a wide range of investments within each asset class. Whatever you decide when making your investment choice, work with your financial planner and select an investment portfolio that is right for you. Australian stock market performance since 1900 Australian Stock Market performance si 10,000 Index Level 1979=500 Log Index (units on vertical scale represent equal percentage changes) 1,000 ALL ORDINARIES INDEX 100 Korean War Oil S Stag WWI Source: Wren Investment Advisers Great Depression Suncorp

13 Make the most of your super Once you have your investment strategy worked out, it s time to start thinking about how you can make the most of your super. The superannuation system in Australia gives you access to some great tax-effective strategies, so why not make the most of them to help you grow your nest egg for the retirement lifestyle you want. No matter what strategies you and your planner implement, the easiest one is also the most effective and that is: start now! The start now strategy A regular savings plan is important to ensure you meet your investment goals, and the earlier you start, the better. Regular super contributions have a compounding effect and all investment returns are re-invested into the super fund, making super a powerful investment strategy. Case study Linda and Sam* Linda invested $835 per month ($10,020 pa) for ten years into a growth option in her super fund. She then stopped contributing and left her lump sum to accumulate for another ten years. Sam however, waited ten years before starting to invest the same amount over the next ten years. When they retired in the same year, Linda s savings had grown to $338,450 while Sam s had grown to only $156,768 even though they had both contributed a total of $100, Assumptions: super fund investments earned 8% pa (net of fees and taxes). * This general information is an example only and should not be relied on as advice for that particular person. Each person should consider their own circumstances and seek appropriate advice. Suncorp WealthSmart Get to know your super 11

14 The consolidation strategy As vital as super is, Australians have more than six million unclaimed super accounts worth an estimated $13.6 billion. 11 For information on tracking down missing super visit the ATO SuperSeeker website Have you got more than one super account? If you ve changed employers, chances are you could have left your super behind. You can easily consolidate your super into one account. Apart from making your life easier (no one needs more paperwork in their life) there are also financial benefits to consolidation. Multiple accounts may mean paying multiple fees, which can erode your super nest egg. By consolidating your super you have one set of fees, one lot of admin, one set of investment decisions, and you have greater control of your funds. So consolidate your super, sit back and watch it grow. Remember, you should always discuss your personal circumstances with a financial planner before taking action such as moving your super accounts, because some super funds may charge a termination penalty, and moving your super may have investment, tax and insurance implications. 11 Commissioner of Taxation Annual Report , 12 Suncorp

15 The salary sacrifice strategy Salary sacrificing a portion of your pre-tax salary into your super fund is one of the most powerful and tax-efficient ways to boost your super account. When you salary sacrifice into super, instead of paying your regular income tax of up to 46.5% (including Medicare), you will only pay a super contribution tax of 15% on the contribution amount. 12 This tax is deducted within the fund. So for someone who is on the highest marginal tax rate of 46.5% this is effectively the difference between investing 53.5 cents in every dollar and 85 cents in every dollar. Case study Michelle* Michelle, aged 38, earns $60,000 per annum and wants to boost her retirement benefits before she retires at 65. She decides to salary sacrifice $10,000 of her salary into super each year until retirement. The table below outlines the benefit to Michelle. No salary sacrifice Salary sacrifice Salary $60,000 $50,000 Sacrificed amount $0 $10,000 Super guarantee13 $5,400 $5,400 Contributions tax 15% $810 $2,310 Net super contribution $4,590 $13,090 Total taxable income $60,000 $50,000 Tax** $12,150 $8,600 Net salary $47,850 $41,400 Net benefit (salary + super) $52,440 $54,490 Although Michelle has reduced her annual take-home salary by $6,450 in the first year, her super balance has increased by $8,500. And remember this money is invested so will grow over time. Make super work for you The Government has limited the amount you can contribute to super through salary sacrifice and personal contributions. Speak to your planner before making a contribution as there are tax penalties for exceeding these limits. Tip - salary sacrifice, and employer super guarantee contributions are called concessional contributions because they are taken from pre-tax salary, and are only taxed within your super fund. 12 Provided contribution limits are not exceeded. Penalty tax applies to excess contributions. 13 Assuming 9% super guarantee is paid on $60,000 in both cases * This general information is an example only and should not be relied on as advice for that particular person. Each person should consider their own circumstances and seek appropriate advice. ** Includes Medicare Levy and Low Income Tax Offset Suncorp WealthSmart Get to know your super 13

16 Government co-contribution strategy Employees and self-employed people on low to medium incomes can use government co-contributions to increase their super. This is another great initiative to help people invest in retirement, through super. If you earn less than $31,920 per annum and you make a $1,000 after-tax contribution, the Australian government will contribute $1,000 to your retirement savings. If you earn between $31,920 and $61,920 you can receive a proportion of the $1,000 government contribution, paid on a sliding scale depending on how much you contribute and how much you earn. 14 The after-tax contributions you make, and the co-contributions you receive are not taxed when they are deposited into your super fund, though earnings are taxed at 15% within the fund. After-tax contributions and the co-contribution will also be received tax-free when paid out in retirement. Case study David* David, aged 35, earns $40,000 per annum. He is considering making a personal non-concessional contribution to super to take advantage of the co-contribution. As his income exceeds the lower threshold of $31,920, the maximum co-contribution he could receive is $ Tip - the ATO website ( has a calculator to help you determine the amount of co-contribution you can receive. The Government will pay $1 into David s superannuation fund for every $1 he contributes, up to his maximum $731 co-contribution. Therefore, to receive a $731 co-contribution into his super account, he needs to make a personal after-tax contribution of $731. This is effectively a 100% return. Over the long term, this benefit adds up. Say David contributes $731 and receives a $731 co-contribution each year for 30 years. He has contributed a total of $21,930 of his own money. If his super fund earns a net 8% pa return (after fees and taxes), this amount will grow to $178,870 in 30 years time! David s super fund $220,000 $200,000 $180,000 $160,000 $140,000 $120,000 $100,000 $80,000 $60,000 $40,000 $20,000 Tip - personal contributions you make to your super from your after-tax salary are called non-concessional contributions. Earnings on these amounts are taxed at only 15% within the fund, rather than at your marginal tax rate. 14 Earnings thresholds apply for 2010/ The government co-contribution reduces by 3.33 cents in every dollar for assessable income, reportable fringe benefits and reportable employer super contributions over the lower threshold of $31,920 pa. * This general information is an example only and should not be relied on as advice for that particular person. Each person should consider their own circumstances and seek appropriate advice. 14 Suncorp

17 Spouse contributions A spouse contribution is a super contribution made on behalf of a lower income or non-working spouse. By making a spouse contribution you may be entitled to offset up to $540 against the tax payable on your other income. The offset is up to 18% of the contribution. 16 Spouse contribution strategies are most suitable for couples where one spouse earns less than $10,800 per annum in assessable income (plus reportable fringe benefits and reportable employer super contributions). Some offset is still available if the spouse earns up to $13,800 per annum. Case study Bruce and Sue* Bruce and Sue are both aged 40. Bruce is building a good super balance in his name, but Sue has accumulated very little super as she is a homemaker caring for their two teenage children. Sue earns less than $10,800 per annum, so Bruce has been advised to make a spouse contribution of $3,000 into Sue s superannuation fund. He can claim a $540 tax offset for this contribution to reduce his personal tax liability. This effectively minimises his tax and maximises Sue s super. The additional benefit is that the funds accumulate in the concessionally-taxed super environment. To boost their retirement benefits even further, Bruce could also invest the $540 tax saving into Sue s super. Alternatively, if the couple invested the money in Sue s name using a non-super investment (for example, a term deposit or unit trust), Bruce would not receive the $540 tax offset. Earnings on the investment would be taxed at Sue s marginal rate and could affect their access to other tax concessions. Spouse contributions to super vs non-super investment The real benefit of this strategy comes over time. The graph below compares Bruce and Sue s two options over 25 years. $55,000 $50,000 $45,000 $40,000 $35,000 Future value $30,000 $25,000 $20,000 $15,000 $10,000 $5, Assumptions: No tax or fees on the two accounts have been taken into consideration. Super fund: Total invested: $3,540 each year for 25 years. This is based on an assumption that the super fund earns 8% pa. Unit Trust: Total invested: $3,000 each year for 25 years. This is based on an assumption that the unit trust earns 7% pa and all income is reinvested. Tip - spouse contributions count towards your non-concessional contributions limit, which means penalty tax can apply to excess contributions. Speak to your financial planner for details, and to make sure you don t exceed the limits. 16 Up to a maximum offset of $540 for a $3,000 contribution * This general information is an example only and should not be relied on as advice for that particular person. Each person should consider their own circumstances and seek appropriate advice. Suncorp WealthSmart Get to know your super 15

18 What next? Seek advice Planning for your retirement and working towards financial independence requires professional advice from a qualified financial planner, who will understand the complexities of super and the supporting tax structure. There are many strategies you can use in various combinations to ensure that you maximise your super and your financial independence. Seeking the advice of a financial planner is the best way to understand and implement the right combination of strategies for you. When you are nearing retirement ask your financial planner for Suncorp s Thinking about retirement guide. It outlines some tax-effective top up strategies specifically for people in the lead up to retirement, and also helps you determine the right way to start drawing down on your nest egg, when it comes time to retire. Protect your wealth Protecting your wealth is just as important as growing it. Have a chat to your financial planner about how insurance can protect your family s future. You may even be able to take out cover through your super fund. Make sure your super fund has your tax file number Since July 2007, the Government s changes to the superannuation rules mean that it s essential to ensure your super fund has your tax file number. If it doesn t, there may be tax penalties and your fund may not be able to accept your super contributions. Remember, your super is your key to financial independence in retirement. You can t access it now, but it s your money. So get to know your super, get involved and take control of your financial future, today. Wills and estate planning It s not fun to think about, but the last thing any of us want to do is leave behind uncertainty about the intentions for our estate. Your financial planner can tell you how to keep your super fund up to date with your beneficiary nominations, and can also refer you to a specialist who can organise your will and manage estate planning issues. 16 Suncorp

19 Important note This information is current as at 1 January 2012 and may be subject to change. This information is general advice and doesn t take into account a person s objectives, financial situation or needs. A person should consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) available at and consider obtaining financial advice before making any decision about this product. This product is not a bank deposit or other bank liability. Products and services are provided by different entities in the Suncorp Group and each entity is not responsible for, does not guarantee and is not liable in any respect for products or services of other Suncorp entities. Issuer Suncorp Life & Superannuation Limited ABN AFS Licence No Suncorp Portfolio Services Limited ABN AFS Licence No RSE Licence No L Suncorp WealthSmart Get to know your super 17

20 How to contact us: Suncorp WealthSmart GPO Box 2585 Brisbane QLD and ask for Super suncorp.com.au /01/12 A

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