You can choose how your money is invested in superannuation. Most funds offer a range of investment options to choose from. If you don't change super investments, your money is likely to be invested in a ‘default investment option' which may not suit your needs or preferred risk level.
The majority of Australians have a large percentage of their superannuation invested in shares, either knowingly or not. Generally, your super fund will allocate a percentage of your money to be invested across the four main asset classes. It's important to look closely at exactly how the fund allocates your investments. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the main asset classes your superannuation can be invested in.
Cash investments tend to be low risk and can help to counter-act market volatility. The downside of cash is that it tends to deliver low returns over the long term.
Fixed interest investments can include a range of Australian or international fixed income securities such as government or corporate bonds. Fixed interest securities generally fluctuate in value less (are less ‘volatile’) than shares but over time they tend to deliver lower returns.
Your super fund may invest directly in commercial property and/or in listed property securities. This involves buying interests in listed property trusts that are bought and sold on the stock exchange. By investing in property, your superannuation fund can earn returns that may include income from rent and, potentially, a stake in the capital growth component that comes about through an increase in the value of the property. Like shares, property securities can rise and/or fall in value over time.
Shares represent a part ownership of a company. Listed shares can be bought and sold on a stock exchange. By investing in shares, your superannuation has the opportunity to benefit from the performance of the business as well as sharing a slice of the annual profits.
Most superannuation funds provide a variety of investment options, typically with a mix of underlying investments. For example, a ‘balanced’ fund may have 70-80% of its investments held in shares.
You have the option to select how your superannuation is invested, so it is important to review your super investment strategy throughout key stages of your working life.
As a young person you may want to have the bulk of your super invested in growth assets like shares and/or property. With plenty of working years left ahead, your super has time to recover if these asset markets take a dip.
As you approach retirement you may prefer to dial down the risk of your super investments and opt for a more conservative strategy with a greater proportion of your super invested in lower risk through less volatile assets like cash.
Bear in mind though, longer life expectancies could mean it may be appropriate for you to continue to have some exposure to growth assets through your superannuation.
The main take-out is to take an active approach to how your super is invested. After all, it is your money and the investment strategy you select can have a major impact on the returns your superannuation earns over time.
This information is current as at 15/08/2016.
This information has been prepared without taking account of your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.
This information provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.