With half the country in what seems never ending rounds of lockdowns and pandemic fatigue setting in, one of the last things most Australians want to do is look at their Superannuation balances and investment options. That is, however, exactly what SuperRatings is wanting us to do, as neglecting your super or responding to short term market moves can have a detrimental effect on your super balance.

SuperRatings Executive Director Kirby Rappell says, ‘We looked at the impact of switching out of a balanced or growth option and into cash at the start of the pandemic and found that those with a balance of $100,000 in January 2020 and who switched to cash at the end of March would now be around $22-27,000 worse off than if they had not switched.’

This effect of switching into cash as a response to market turmoil is also seen when looking at returns over the past 15 years. In this period, a typical balanced Super option has risen substantially, with a balance of $100,000 in July 2006 accumulating to $247,557, more than doubling in size. Those members investing in a growth option have experienced an even stronger result, with a similar starting balance growing to $254,006. Share focused options have delivered the highest returns, with the median Australian shares option growing to $276,099 and the median international shares option growing to $271,051, though these types of options involve greater risks. Over the same period, a $100,000 balance invested in cash would only be worth $151,158 today.

When considering your Super options, you don’t need to go it alone as many Super funds provide advice and tools to their members. Says Mr Rappell, ‘Most funds will offer scaled advice for free or at a low cost, with members able to get advice on topics such as contributions, investment options, insurance in the fund and the transition to retirement.’ Scaled advice is general in nature so you will need to check if your situation and goals align with the advice.
Continues Mr Rappell, ‘For members who want more tailored advice, some funds will offer comprehensive advice that will also take into account your financial assets outside of superannuation.’ While there will be a cost associated with this comprehensive advice, most funds will allow the cost of the advice to be deducted from the superannuation account, just make sure you check any costs and how they can be paid before agreeing to get the advice.
Looking at more recent returns, balances continued to grow in July. The typical balanced option returned an estimated 1.3% over the month and 18.5% over the year. The typical growth option returned an estimated 1.3% for the month and the median capital stable option also increased 0.9% in the month.

Accumulation returns to July 2021

FYTD 1 yr 3 yrs (p.a.) 5 yrs (p.a.) 7 yrs (p.a.) 10 yrs (p.a.)
SR50 Balanced (60-76) Index 1.3% 18.5% 7.9% 8.4% 8.0% 8.6%
SR50 Capital Stable (20-40) Index 0.9% 7.8% 4.5% 4.5% 4.8% 5.3%
SR50 Growth (77-90) Index 1.3% 22.7% 9.2% 9.5% 8.9% 9.6%

Source: SuperRatings estimates

Pension returns were also positive in July. The median balanced pension option returned an estimated 1.3% over the month and 20.0% over the year. The median pension growth option returned an estimated 1.5% and the median capital stable option also rose an estimated 0.9% in the month.

Pension returns to July 2021

FYTD 1 yr 3 yrs (p.a.) 5 yrs (p.a.) 7 yrs (p.a.) 10 yrs (p.a.)
SRP50 Balanced (60-76) Index 1.3% 20.0% 8.4% 9.1% 8.5% 9.5%
SRP50 Capital Stable (20-40) Index 0.9% 8.6% 5.2% 5.2% 5.2% 5.9%
SRP50 Growth (77-90) Index 1.5% 24.4% 9.7% 10.3% 9.8% 10.6%

Source: SuperRatings estimates

Release ends


Warnings: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any express or implied rating or advice presented in this document is limited to “General Advice” (as defined in the Corporations Act 2001(Cth)) and based solely on consideration of the merits of the superannuation or pension financial product(s) alone, without taking into account the objectives, financial situation or particular needs (‘financial circumstances’) of any particular person. Before making an investment decision based on the rating(s) or advice, the reader must consider whether it is personally appropriate in light of his or her financial circumstances, or should seek independent financial advice on its appropriateness. If SuperRatings advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of particular financial product(s), the reader should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement for each superannuation or pension financial product before making any decision about whether to acquire a financial product. SuperRatings research process relies upon the participation of the superannuation fund or product issuer(s). Should the superannuation fund or product issuer(s) no longer be an active participant in SuperRatings research process, SuperRatings reserves the right to withdraw the rating and document at any time and discontinue future coverage of the superannuation and pension financial product(s).

Copyright © 2021 SuperRatings Pty Ltd (ABN 95 100 192 283 AFSL No. 311880 (SuperRatings)). This media release is subject to the copyright of SuperRatings. Except for the temporary copy held in a computer’s cache and a single permanent copy for your personal reference or other than as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth.), no part of this media release may, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, micro-copying, photocopying, recording or otherwise), be reproduced, stored or transmitted without the prior written permission of SuperRatings. This media release may also contain third party supplied material that is subject to copyright. Any such material is the intellectual property of that third party or its content providers. The same restrictions applying above to SuperRatings copyrighted material, applies to such third party content.

Lonsec has welcomed key senior appointments with Mike Wright joining as CEO and Kevin Brennan as Chief Information Officer (CIO). These appointments follow the recent renewal of the Lonsec board.

Mike has over 25 years’ experience in leading businesses and teams within Financial Services and joined from Xplore Wealth Ltd (ASX: XPL.AX), where he was CEO and successfully led the friendly takeover to Hub24 (ASX: HUB.AX), a leading independent investment platform.

Mike has set himself an ambitious challenge for his first 100 days with the business, meeting with all 100+ employees, key partners and clients and says, ‘At a time when the financial services industry is going through so much change, it is incredibly exciting and reassuring to join a company like Lonsec that is so committed to supporting Advisers and Funds through industry changes.’

Mike joins at a dynamic time for Lonsec, with the Lonsec Managed Accounts hitting $2bn funds under management in July 2021 (up from $1bn FUM in October 2020), as well as being fittingly placed to support Advisers and their clients focus on sustainable and ethical investment strategies.

Lonsec has been at the forefront of supporting increased investor appetite for sustainable and ethical investments that also provide a solid return. In response, they developed the Lonsec Sustainable Managed Accounts to provide greater choice for clients seeking investment strategies that align with their personal values and demonstrate strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.
Unique in the market, Lonsec Sustainable Managed Accounts combines both ESG, which focus on the underlying manager’s process to ESG factors and Sustainability measures, which focuses on the funds positive impact on the world.

The Lonsec Sustainable Managed Accounts have just been added to the Macquarie Wrap Platform and are also available on Hub24 and Netwealth.

Lonsec is also fulfilling its thought leadership mandate by launching a Sustainability program to continue to educate investors. Lonsec’s Head of Sustainability, Tony Adams says ‘With the Lonsec Sustainability program, we want to help financial advisers and their clients take a sustainable approach to investing by sharing insights and research powered by Lonsec and a range of industry leaders.’ Via webinars and articles, the Lonsec Sustainability program has recently covered subjects such as ‘greenwashing’ and how Advisers can start sustainable investing conversations with their clients. This is a partner program to the long running Lonsec Retire program, now in its ninth year.

Kevin Brennan is excited to be joining Lonsec as Chief Information Officer. Kevin brings more than 20 years’ experience running large technology teams in the wealth industry. His key focus will be to elevate the role of technology within Lonsec and drive a comprehensive technology and data strategy to transform its service architecture and further accelerate business growth.

Mike concludes, ‘We are so fortunate to be in a strong position to continue to honourably help Advisers, Managers and investors with insights and solutions to help them navigate the immense challenges that many of them face and share in common.’

RELEASE ENDS

For more information, contact:

Rob Hardy
Robert.Hardy@lonsec.com.au
1300 826 395

The Lonsec Board of Directors is very pleased to announce the appointment of Mike Wright as CEO of Lonsec effective 5th July 2021.

Lonsec Chairman Mark Spiers said, “Mike’s unique blend of leading teams to develop and implement client-oriented growth and service initiatives along with his strong industry relationships and knowledge were exactly the leadership attributes that we were seeking.”

“By continuing to stay close to our clients Lonsec has enjoyed significant growth across all its business units and I am excited to be able to work with the great team at Lonsec to continue to build on this,” said Mike.

Mike was most recently the CEO of Xplore Wealth, an ASX listed company specialising in providing managed account investment solutions to financial advisers. Xplore Wealth was successfully acquired by Hub24 via a Scheme of Arrangement, completed 2nd March 2021.

Prior to this, Mike had a long and successful career in the Westpac/BT Group, where he held senior executive roles with Westpac’s Retail & Business Banking, and was State General Manager of Queensland before leading the Advice business at BT.

Release ends

For more information, contact:

Rob Hardy
robert.hardy@lonsec.com.au
+61 2 8651 6744

The remarkable recovery in super fund’s performance continues with another strong month of returns despite a slower vaccine rollout than many had hoped for and some regulatory uncertainty around the use of some vaccines.

According to SuperRatings data, the median balanced option rose an estimated 2.0% in March, while the median growth option rose an estimated 2.4% and the median capital stable option rose an estimated 0.9%. Over the 2020-21 financial year to date, the median balanced option returned 12.2%, reflecting the strength and speed of the post-pandemic recovery, which extended through to the end of the March quarter.

As Australia confronts the short-term effects of the pandemic, members should expect markets to remain volatile, but the theme of 2021 is certainly one of ongoing recovery as the jobs market improves and economic activity picks up once again.

For younger members, long-term trends like the digitisation of economies and work automation—themes sped up by the pandemic—may prove to have the biggest impact on the growth of their retirement savings.

“The March returns data reinforced the success that super has seen in rebuilding from the depths of the pandemic last year,” said SuperRatings Executive Director Kirby Rappell.

“The real bright spot has been the bounce back in the labour market, which has restored confidence to households and helped reboot consumer spending. The reopening of the economy and the low or zero rates of community transmission we’ve experienced in Australia in recent months have galvanised the recovery.”

Accumulation returns to end of March 2021

  FYTD 1 yr 3 yrs (p.a.) 5 yrs (p.a.) 7 yrs (p.a.) 10 yrs (p.a)
SR50 Growth (77-90) Index 14.9% 24.3% 8.4% 9.4% 8.4% 8.4%
SR50 Balanced (60-76) Index 12.2% 19.3% 7.3% 8.1% 7.5% 7.8%
SR50 Capital Stable (20-40) Index 5.1% 7.8% 4.0% 4.5% 4.6% 5.0%

Source: SuperRatings estimates

Pension returns were also positive in March. The median balanced pension option returned an estimated 2.1% over the month and 13.2% over the financial year to date. The median pension growth option returned an estimated 2.5% and the median capital stable option gained an estimated 1.0% through the month.

Pension returns to end of March 2021

  FYTD 1 yr 3 yrs (p.a.) 5 yrs (p.a.) 7 yrs (p.a.) 10 yrs (p.a)
SRP50 Growth (77-90) Index 16.1% 26.9% 9.0% 10.1% 9.2% 9.3%
SRP50 Balanced (60-76) Index 13.2% 21.0% 7.8% 8.8% 8.1% 8.4%
SRP50 Capital Stable (20-40) Index 5.6% 9.1% 4.6% 5.2% 5.1% 5.6%

Source: SuperRatings estimates  

Thursday’s labour force figures continue to demonstrate the strength of Australia’s recovery. A further 70,700 jobs were created in March, taking the unemployment rate 0.2 points lower to 5.6%.

With the critical JobKeeper support now at an end and banks requiring mortgages to be serviced after a brief hiatus for those in need, it remains to be seen what the immediate economic fallout will be, but so far households appear to be holding up well.

“The vaccine story has been key to the recent rise in markets and super fund balances,” said Mr Rappell.

“However, there will likely be a period of adjustment, including some scarring effects from business closures and job losses, that we’ll need to navigate as we enter the new normal, but these should prove temporary. Overall, while the pandemic is certainly not over, we do foresee a period of greater stability for members.”

Release ends

Warnings: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any express or implied rating or advice presented in this document is limited to “General Advice” (as defined in the Corporations Act 2001(Cth)) and based solely on consideration of the merits of the superannuation or pension financial product(s) alone, without taking into account the objectives, financial situation or particular needs (‘financial circumstances’) of any particular person. Before making an investment decision based on the rating(s) or advice, the reader must consider whether it is personally appropriate in light of his or her financial circumstances, or should seek independent financial advice on its appropriateness. If SuperRatings advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of particular financial product(s), the reader should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement for each superannuation or pension financial product before making any decision about whether to acquire a financial product. SuperRatings research process relies upon the participation of the superannuation fund or product issuer(s). Should the superannuation fund or product issuer(s) no longer be an active participant in SuperRatings research process, SuperRatings reserves the right to withdraw the rating and document at any time and discontinue future coverage of the superannuation and pension financial product(s).
Copyright © 2021 SuperRatings Pty Ltd (ABN 95 100 192 283 AFSL No. 311880 (SuperRatings)). This media release is subject to the copyright of SuperRatings. Except for the temporary copy held in a computer’s cache and a single permanent copy for your personal reference or other than as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth.), no part of this media release may, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, micro-copying, photocopying, recording or otherwise), be reproduced, stored or transmitted without the prior written permission of SuperRatings. This media release may also contain third party supplied material that is subject to copyright. Any such material is the intellectual property of that third party or its content providers. The same restrictions applying above to SuperRatings copyrighted material, applies to such third party content.

In a year defined by the global pandemic and the locking down of economies, the superannuation system faced arguably one of its toughest test in its 29-year history.

Now, as super funds finalise their reporting for December 2020, the strength of superannuation’s comeback is clear. Despite the market turmoil in the first half of the year, Australia’s top super funds have posted some remarkable results.

Long-term returns have also held up well, evidenced by the 10-year performance rankings, demonstrating the quality of funds available to members.

According to data from leading research house SuperRatings, Suncorp was the top performing fund over the 2020 calendar year, with the Suncorp Brighter Super Pers – Suncorp Multi-Manager Growth Fund returning 9.6%. This was followed by Australian Ethical and Vision SS, whose balanced options returned 8.0% and 6.2% respectively.

Top 20 balanced options over 12 months

Source: SuperRatings

Moving out to 10 years, the top performers were UniSuper, whose balanced option has returned 9.0% p.a. over the last decade, followed closely by AustralianSuper and Cbus.

Top 20 balanced options over 10 years

Source: SuperRatings

Spotlight on risk and return in wake of COVID-19

It is important to consider not only the return that an option delivers but also the level of risk it takes on to achieve that return. A rough way to examine this is the variability in returns over time. Growth assets like shares may return more on average than traditionally defensive assets like fixed income, but this comes with larger ups and downs.

The table below shows the top 20 funds ranked according to their volatility-adjusted return, which measures how much members are being rewarded for taking on the ups and downs.

QSuper’s balanced option return of 7.9% p.a. over the past seven years is below some of its peers, but it has done this with a smoother ride along the way, meaning it has delivered the best return given the level of volatility involved.

Top 20 balanced options over 7 years ranked by risk and return

Option name Rolling 7-year return (% p.a.)
QSuper – Balanced 7.9%
BUSSQ Premium Choice – Balanced Growth 7.8%
Prime Super – MySuper 7.9%
Cbus – Growth (Cbus MySuper) 8.5%
CareSuper – Balanced 7.9%
MTAA Super – My AutoSuper 8.0%
Catholic Super – Balanced (MySuper) 7.7%
VicSuper FutureSaver – Growth (MySuper) Option 8.0%
Mercy Super – MySuper Balanced 7.7%
AustralianSuper – Balanced 8.8%
Aware Super (previously First State Super) – Growth 7.8%
Media Super – Balanced 7.6%
CSC PSSap – MySuper Balanced 7.1%
Sunsuper for Life – Balanced 8.0%
Hostplus – Balanced 8.4%
Vision SS – Balanced Growth 7.9%
HESTA – Balanced Growth 7.7%
Club Plus Super – MySuper 7.3%
Equip MyFuture – Balanced Growth 7.7%
Local Government Super Accum – Balanced Growth 7.3%

Source: SuperRatings

“What the calendar year figures hide is the rollercoaster movements members experienced as the market sold off back in March 2020 and then rapidly recovered,” said SuperRatings Executive Director Kirby Rappell.

“As members accumulate wealth over time, market movements will have a bigger impact on their account balance in dollar terms. This is a challenge for funds and members as the average super balance rises over $100,000, with the need for education and support paramount.”

While it is important to acknowledge those funds that have outperformed over 2020, members should bear in mind that long-term performance is what really counts.

“Overall, funds have done an excellent job of managing risks through a tumultuous period,” said Mr Rappell. “Super is a long-term game, so it’s pleasing to see long-term returns remain healthy and ahead of their CPI+ targets.”

Release ends


Warnings: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any express or implied rating or advice presented in this document is limited to “General Advice” (as defined in the Corporations Act 2001(Cth)) and based solely on consideration of the merits of the superannuation or pension financial product(s) alone, without taking into account the objectives, financial situation or particular needs (‘financial circumstances’) of any particular person. Before making an investment decision based on the rating(s) or advice, the reader must consider whether it is personally appropriate in light of his or her financial circumstances, or should seek independent financial advice on its appropriateness. If SuperRatings advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of particular financial product(s), the reader should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement for each superannuation or pension financial product before making any decision about whether to acquire a financial product. SuperRatings research process relies upon the participation of the superannuation fund or product issuer(s). Should the superannuation fund or product issuer(s) no longer be an active participant in SuperRatings research process, SuperRatings reserves the right to withdraw the rating and document at any time and discontinue future coverage of the superannuation and pension financial product(s).

Copyright © 2021 SuperRatings Pty Ltd (ABN 95 100 192 283 AFSL No. 311880 (SuperRatings)). This media release is subject to the copyright of SuperRatings. Except for the temporary copy held in a computer’s cache and a single permanent copy for your personal reference or other than as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth.), no part of this media release may, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, micro-copying, photocopying, recording or otherwise), be reproduced, stored or transmitted without the prior written permission of SuperRatings. This media release may also contain third party supplied material that is subject to copyright. Any such material is the intellectual property of that third party or its content providers. The same restrictions applying above to SuperRatings copyrighted material, applies to such third party content.

November was the strongest month for superannuation in 2020 and the 8th consecutive month of positive returns for members.

As COVID-19 restrictions ease nation-wide and investors look forward to the approval and distribution of a vaccine, share markets globally have pushed to record highs, delivering windfall gains for super members.

According to estimates from leading superannuation research house SuperRatings, the median balanced option returned 4.9% in November as members enjoyed an early Christmas gift that has put them back into the black over the course of a volatile and uncertain year.

Since the start of 2020 the median balanced option has delivered 2.3% and is on track to finish the year in positive territory. Super has bounced back strongly in the second half of the year, returning 7.5% from the start of July to the end of November, reversing the large falls back in February and March.

According to SuperRatings data, the median growth option returned an estimated 6.2% in November and 2.4% over the calendar year, while the median capital stable option returned an estimated 2.0% in November and 1.7% over the calendar year.

“We’ve had a watershed month for super and hopefully this strong performance can continue through to the new year,” said SuperRatings Executive Director Kirby Rappell.

“Given the world is battling a pandemic that has resulted in large sections of the economy being placed in lockdown, the results are remarkable. This is the year super proved its worth once again and reminded us why it is so critical to our economic success.”

Accumulation returns to end of November 2020

CYTD 1 yr 3 yrs (p.a.) 5 yrs (p.a.) 7 yrs (p.a.) 10 yrs (p.a)
SR50 Growth (77-90) Index 2.4% 2.4% 6.6% 7.9% 8.0% 8.4%
SR50 Balanced (60-76) Index 2.3% 2.2% 5.8% 7.1% 7.3% 7.9%
SR50 Capital Stable (20-40) Index 1.7% 1.5% 3.8% 4.3% 4.6% 5.1%

Source: SuperRatings estimates

Pension returns had a similarly strong month. The median balanced pension option rose an estimated 5.4% in November and 2.6% over the calendar year. The median pension growth option rose an estimated 6.8% in November and 2.6% over the calendar year, and the median capital stable pension option returned an estimated 2.3% in November and 2.0% over the calendar year.

Pension returns to end of November 2020

CYTD 1 yr 3 yrs (p.a.) 5 yrs (p.a.) 7 yrs (p.a.) 10 yrs (p.a)
SRP50 Growth (77-90) Index 2.6% 2.6% 7.3% 8.7% 8.9% 9.3%
SRP50 Balanced (60-76) Index 2.6% 2.4% 6.6% 7.8% 7.9% 8.5%
SRP50 Capital Stable (20-40) Index 2.0% 1.7% 4.4% 5.0% 5.2% 5.9%

Source: SuperRatings estimates  

The global recovery is underway and is looking sufficiently V-shaped, but recent economic news has been mixed. Infection rates have risen in the US and Europe, causing a loss of momentum, but news of successful vaccine trials have boosted confidence.

The UK has begun rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while Australia and the US are preparing to do the same once the vaccine is approved. Meanwhile, China has ramped up its trade conflict with Australia, putting tariffs of up to 200% on Australian wine and suspending the importation of Australian beef, barley and timber.

“Australia’s success in containing the coronavirus has put us in an enviable position, but there are still significant risks at play. The pandemic is not yet defeated and there are geopolitical issues weighing on the outlook. Members should be optimistic but prepare themselves for potential surprises as we head into 2021.”

Release ends


Warnings: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any express or implied rating or advice presented in this document is limited to “General Advice” (as defined in the Corporations Act 2001(Cth)) and based solely on consideration of the merits of the superannuation or pension financial product(s) alone, without taking into account the objectives, financial situation or particular needs (‘financial circumstances’) of any particular person. Before making an investment decision based on the rating(s) or advice, the reader must consider whether it is personally appropriate in light of his or her financial circumstances, or should seek independent financial advice on its appropriateness. If SuperRatings advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of particular financial product(s), the reader should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement for each superannuation or pension financial product before making any decision about whether to acquire a financial product. SuperRatings research process relies upon the participation of the superannuation fund or product issuer(s). Should the superannuation fund or product issuer(s) no longer be an active participant in SuperRatings research process, SuperRatings reserves the right to withdraw the rating and document at any time and discontinue future coverage of the superannuation and pension financial product(s).

Copyright © 2020 SuperRatings Pty Ltd (ABN 95 100 192 283 AFSL No. 311880 (SuperRatings)). This media release is subject to the copyright of SuperRatings. Except for the temporary copy held in a computer’s cache and a single permanent copy for your personal reference or other than as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth.), no part of this media release may, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, micro-copying, photocopying, recording or otherwise), be reproduced, stored or transmitted without the prior written permission of SuperRatings. This media release may also contain third party supplied material that is subject to copyright. Any such material is the intellectual property of that third party or its content providers. The same restrictions applying above to SuperRatings copyrighted material, applies to such third party content.

SuperRatings and Lonsec have announced the winners of this year’s Fund of the Year Awards, which was held virtually for the first time in the event’s 18-year history.

The Fund of the Year Award went to QSuper, which also took home the Pension of the Year Award and the Smooth Ride Award. UniSuper claimed the MySuper of the Year Award, and Sunsuper clinched the MyChoice Super of the Year Award.

The winners were announced at a virtual awards event on 29 October, broadcast live from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

“It’s important to recognise the significant work that all funds have done to support their members through a very challenging year,” said SuperRatings Executive Director Kirby Rappell.
“In a highly competitive field, we decided that QSuper was the fund that performed most strongly across the key criteria of investment performance, fees, member services, financial advice and insurance, and fund governance.”

“Congratulations to the team at QSuper on a fantastic effort. It was a strong field this year and we note the high calibre of all award winners, with the quality of their offerings shining through the pandemic.”

“A lot has changed in super, and there are even more changes to come. We should always be focused on improvement, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the incredible outcomes being produced by a large number of funds, both for their members and the retirement system as a whole. Despite the uncertainty, there is every reason to be positive about super.”

 

Congratulations to all of the finalists for this year’s SuperRatings and Lonsec Fund of the Year Awards Dinner. A full list of the awards is available below.

SuperRatings Fund of the Year Award

Winner

QSuper
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SuperRatings MySuper of the Year Award

Awarded to the fund that has provided the Best Value for Money Default Offering.

Winner
UniSuper

Finalists
AustralianSuper
BUSSQ
CareSuper
Cbus
Equip
HESTA
QSuper
Sunsuper
TelstraSuper
UniSuper

SuperRatings MyChoice Super of the Year Award

Awarded to the fund with the Best Value for Money Offering for Engaged Members.

Winner
Sunsuper

Finalists
AustralianSuper
Aware Super
Hostplus
Mercer Super Trust
NGS Super
QSuper
Statewide Super
Sunsuper
Tasplan
UniSuper

SuperRatings Pension of the Year Award

Awarded to the fund with the Best Value for Money Pension Offering.

Winner
QSuper

Finalists
AustralianSuper
Aware Super
BUSSQ
Cbus
HESTA
Hostplus
QSuper
Sunsuper
TelstraSuper
UniSuper

SuperRatings Career Fund of the Year Award

Awarded to the fund with the offering that is best tailored to its industry sector.

Winner
Cbus

Finalists
BUSSQ
Cbus
HESTA
Mercy Super
TelstraSuper
Hostplus

SuperRatings Momentum Award

Awarded to the fund that has demonstrated significant progress in executing key projects that will enhance its strategic positioning in coming years.

Winner
Aware Super

Finalists
Aware Super
Cbus
Equip
HESTA
Mercer Super Trust
Sunsuper

SuperRatings Net Benefit Award

Awarded to the fund with the best Net Benefit outcomes delivered to members over the short and long term.

Winner
AustralianSuper & HESTA

Finalists
AustralianSuper
Cbus
HESTA
Hostplus
QSuper
UniSuper

SuperRatings Smooth Ride Award

Awarded to the fund that has best weathered the ups and downs of the market, while also delivering strong outcomes.

Winner
QSuper

Finalists
AustralianSuper
Aware Super
BUSSQ
CareSuper
Cbus
QSuper

Infinity Award

Awarded to the fund most committed to addressing its environmental and ethical responsibilities.

Winner
Local Government Super

Finalists
Australian Ethical Super
CareSuper
Christian Super
Future Super
HESTA
Local Government Super

Lonsec Investment Option Award

Seeks to recognise and highlight the work of asset managers and key players incorporating ESG.

Winner
CareSuper – Sustainable Balanced

Finalists
CareSuper – Sustainable Balanced
Cbus – Growth (Cbus MySuper)
Suncorp Multi-Manager Growth
Sunsuper for Life – Balanced

 

Release ends

A lack of clarity around environmental, social and governance (ESG) approaches to investing is creating confusion and making it harder for end investors to choose an investment product that fits their objectives and values.

Leading investment research house Lonsec said that investors relying on pure ESG product scores or labels risk being misled about the true sustainability of the product’s underlying investments.

According to Lonsec analysis, funds that score well on a pure ESG basis do not necessarily score well based on sustainability measures that consider the specific industries and activities the fund is exposed to.

“The traditional ESG approach tends to be more about process and less about outcomes,” said Tony Adams, Lonsec’s Head of Sustainable Investment Research.

“ESG fund managers tend to look at sustainability factors in terms of the risks they pose to a company’s business model. Academic research supports the assertion that companies that follow strong ESG standards are more likely to outperform those that don’t.”

Adams said that while ESG analysis is an important element of a fund manager’s investment approach, it can create confusion for investors looking for investment products that explicitly align with their values.

“In some cases, you can end up with a portfolio that looks very similar to the broader market when it comes to exposure to things like fossil fuels, gambling, tobacco, or deforestation. For many investors, ESG integration might sound good, but in practice it will often fail to meet their expectations.”

Lonsec analysis highlights gap between ESG and sustainability

Data from Lonsec show that 19% of Australian equity managers rated by Lonsec score highly for ESG awareness but score poorly for sustainability. Likewise, 18% of managers fare relatively poorly in ESG awareness, but end up performing well in terms of the sustainability of the fund’s underlying investments.

Relationship between Lonsec’s ESG and Sustainability Scores

Source: Lonsec

Lonsec’s analysis covers 159 Australian equity funds, which are scored separately based on their ESG integration and the underlying ‘goodness’ of their portfolio.

Lonsec’s ESG score is based on the policy and reporting framework of each manager, and how deeply integrated its ESG process is with their investment decision making.

In contrast, Lonsec’s Sustainability Score looks through to the fund’s underlying investments and assesses how well they align with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as how much exposure the fund has—directly and indirectly—to ten controversial industries.

“Most investors, if you asked them, would assume there was a strong correlation between ESG and sustainability,” said Adams.

“That there is such a significant discrepancy demonstrates that we need better communication and better tools to help investors make informed decisions about where they put their money.”

ESG funds must ensure they meet investors’ expectations

If ESG funds wish to be viewed as sustainable, they need to be transparent about the composition of their portfolio and the size of their exposure to unsustainable industries.

“Whether it’s a company or a managed fund, what the investor really wants to know is: what industries and activities am I ultimately investing in and supporting?” said Adams.

“While investors care about a manager’s investment process they are often more concerned about the impact their investment has on society, the planet, and future generations.”

Lonsec’s Sustainability Score helps funds become more transparent by giving financial advisers and end-investors the information they need to build a genuine values-based portfolio.

For fund managers who agree to have their fund scored, Lonsec provides a Sustainability Report detailing the relative success of the fund in supporting the SDGs and minimising exposure to controversial industries. Lonsec’s sustainability research assesses the exposures of individual companies across the entire supply chain, allowing individual investors to make their own decisions about how and where to invest.

Finally, Lonsec’s Sustainability Score reflects the net impact of these measures, which is peer ranked and results in a score between 1 and 5 bees.

“We chose bees to represent our Sustainability Score because bees are a symbolic reminder of the importance of biodiversity in maintaining the health of the planet,” said Adams.

“When advisers and investors see 5 bees next to a fund’s name, we want them to associate that fund with the most sustainable investment outcomes in the market.”

Sustainability issues not always black and white

Sustainable investing is about balance. Avoiding every company with a positive carbon footprint is not necessarily good for our portfolios or humanity. The purpose of Lonsec’s sustainability research is to create transparency so investors can make informed decisions.

“We can all identify contentious activities, but whether or not to exclude them completely from our portfolio is a different matter,” said Adams.

“For example, a company like Woolworths is primarily involved in food production and distribution, but it also sells alcohol and tobacco products. Investors will have different views, but we can make sure they know which businesses are exposed to which industries, and how big their exposure is.”

Lonsec’s Sustainability Score exposes the truth about a fund manager’s holdings, helping investors build better portfolios without an ESG black box. As advisers and investors become more educated on the differences between sustainable investing methodologies, fund managers will need to take the lead on transparency and an honest conversation or be left behind.

Release ends

In a financial year that saw a bull market turn into a sharp selloff followed by a recovery, super funds were rocked by a level of volatility not seen since the financial crisis a decade ago.

As funds finalise their reporting for June 2020, the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis is clear, but far from the sea of red that members and commentators may have expected back in March. For members invested in any of the top 15 performing balanced options, the past year has netted a slim but positive return compared to the estimated median return of -1.2%.

According to data from leading research house SuperRatings, Suncorp was the top returning fund over the 12 months to the end of June, with the Suncorp Multi-Manager Growth Fund returning 3.8%. This was followed by BUSSQ and Australian Ethical Super, whose balanced options returned 2.5% and 2.4% respectively.

Top 10 SR50 Balanced Index options over 12 months

* Interim return
Source: SuperRatings. Returns to end June 2020.

While it is important to acknowledge those funds that have outperformed during the Covid-19 pandemic to date, members should bear in mind that long-term performance is what really counts.

Over 10 years, the top performers are AustralianSuper, whose balanced option has returned 8.8% p.a., followed closely by UniSuper and Hostplus. Performance for the median balanced option continues to hold strong, returning an estimated 7.6% over the decade to 30 June 2020.

Top 10 SR50 Balanced Index options over 10 years

Source: SuperRatings. Returns to end June 2020.

“Importantly, over the long term, returns remain very healthy,” said SuperRatings Executive Director Kirby Rappell. “Super is a long-term game, so members should avoid chasing short-term results and ensure they are invested in a quality fund with the right investment strategy that is well positioned to deliver for their needs over the course of their working life.”

Interestingly, only half of the top performing funds over 12 months were among the top performing funds over 10 years, highlighting the difficulty for investment strategies to perform well in differing market conditions over a longer term.

“It was pleasing to see 15 out of the 50 options in the SR50 Balanced Index generate a positive return in the 2019-20 financial year, which speaks to the quality of funds available to members,” said Mr Rappell.

“Managing risks while delivering a positive return in this environment has been a real challenge, and this is likely to continue through the rest of 2020.”

According to SuperRatings, given the success of super over the past 10 years in accumulating wealth, members will feel the bumps more when markets go down.

“Prior to Covid-19, we saw the industry average account balance rise over $100,000, compared to around $30,000 during the GFC,” said Mr Rappell.

“This means that, on an absolute basis, members will see their balance move around a lot more than they have previously. Funds have done an excellent job of both managing risk and educating their members on these issues, but more can be done in this space.”

QSuper delivered the best return to risk ratio of its peers over the 7 years to 30 June 2020. While CareSuper, Cbus, MTAA, VicSuper and AustralianSuper delivered a higher return over this period, they did so at a slightly higher level of risk.

Top 10 SR50 Balanced Index options over 7 years ranked by risk and return

OptionRankingReturn % p.a.
QSuper – Balanced18.0%
BUSSQ Premium Choice – Balanced Growth27.9%
CareSuper – Balanced38.1%
Cbus – Growth (Cbus MySuper)48.5%
MTAA Super – My AutoSuper58.0%
VicSuper FutureSaver – Growth (MySuper) Option68.2%
Catholic Super – Balanced (MySuper)77.8%
First State Super – Growth88.0%
AustralianSuper – Balanced98.8%
Media Super – Balanced107.7%

Source: SuperRatings. Returns to end June 2020. Risk and return ranking based on Sharpe ratio.

 

Release ends

We welcome media enquiries regarding our research or information held in our database. We are also able to provide commentary and customised tables or charts for your use.

For more information contact:

Kirby Rappell
Executive Director
Tel: 1300 826 395
Mob: +61 408 250 725
Kirby.Rappell@superratings.com.au

The question no-one wants to ask is – Why are APRA collecting, interpreting and then publishing information in the public domain? The answer is simple – They shouldn’t be!

Instead of regulating, APRA are now trying to play the shame game through their just released heatmaps. But there is a real risk that some of those shamed will be the wrong funds. As the founder of SuperRatings, Jeff Bresnahan says, “The problem is that no one in the industry wants to tell the regulator that they have got it wrong.”

Effectively, APRA is putting into circulation data which analyses just parts of a super fund, not the whole. By ignoring things like Governance, Advice, Insurance and Member servicing structures, consumers are not being provided with the whole picture.

As Bresnahan says, “While conflicts of interest were identified as a major issue in superannuation during the Royal Commission, it seems ironic that APRA has deliberately avoided reporting any measurement of a Fund’s Governance structure”.

In an industry which carries inherently conflicted Directors, it would appear that Governance is ignored in favour of more easily assessable information. Whether such omissions create any legal liabilities for APRA in the future remains debatable.

As a result, APRA continues its foray into unchartered territory. This is not the first time APRA have got it wrong. They have been producing performance tables for over a decade. Unfortunately, the performance tables were flawed from a usefulness perspective, in that they don’t reflect the performance of a super fund’s investment options. However, they continue to produce them and in doing so confuse and possibly mislead Australians.

And so it continues with the heatmaps. Having reviewed the heatmap methodology, SuperRatings is of the opinion that their release into the public domain may create more questions than they answer and that consumers could well be influenced into products that are inappropriate for them.

Aside from the bigger question of why APRA is publishing such data, there remain a number of problems with the methodology adopted. Critically, APRA appears to ignore implicit asset fees when measuring net investment performance.  As Bresnahan says, “This methodology can easily overstate the net benefit a member receives. Similarly, a low-cost investment option with high administration fees creates the very real possibility of consumers investing monies in cheap investment options that have no chance of outperforming the relevant index over any time period, whilst getting slugged high administration fees.”

Investment analysis since the onset of the Superannuation Guarantee in 1992 has shown that all implicit fees and performance must be analysed together on an actual net of fees basis. Many leading funds, in terms of balanced option performance, have had higher allocations than the average fund to traditionally more expensive asset classes such as infrastructure, private equity and unlisted property. These asset classes have continually outperformed cheaper alternatives.

It’s only when all actual fees and returns are combined that the range of results is clearly evident in dollar terms, as the following graph indicates. The graph shows the disparity of net earnings on a $50,000 starting balance (and $50,000 salary) with SGC contributions mapped over both the last 3 and 10 years. Notably, many of the funds that added the most value, over both the short and long term, invested into the more expensive asset classes. Driving people into low-cost options will come at the expense of future earnings, something that taxpayers will ultimately have to bear.

Net benefit trend analysis (over 3 and 10 years)

Source: SuperRatings

And the anomalies continue. The heatmaps are judging funds on short term performance over just 3 and 5 years. Whilst it will be claimed this is necessary due to the limited performance history of MySuper products, it should be noted that most funds have been around for over 25 years and that their default option provides an accurate MySuper proxy.

As Bresnahan said, “Given super is a key plank of Australia’s economic future, it seems counter-intuitive for the Government’s regulator to not measure funds over a more realistic period. Certainly, it is commonly accepted that 7, 10 and 15 year performance analysis is best practice given the long term (60 years plus) nature of superannuation membership.”

Again, a consumer moving funds due to seeing a 3-year performance gap, mid-way through an economic cycle, will no doubt be moving for the wrong reasons.

The way forward

Bresnahan says, “Australians are not stupid, but they remain frustratingly unengaged with their superannuation.” This problem remains the real challenge for much of the industry. APRA’s endeavours are admirable, but questionable at the same time. He goes on to say, “A regulator should set the structure under which funds need to operate. The morphing of this regulatory process into public comparisons leaves it open to being seen as stepping across the line. One wonders what they are actually trying to achieve by moving into this public domain.”

If APRA must continue down this path, then SuperRatings suggests that they need to concentrate on the whole picture, rather than isolated parts therein. This should, aside from earlier mentioned issues, also include:

  1. Regulations to enable consistent fee disclosures, including the inequitable use of tax deductions and transparency to members;
  2. The disclosure of risk within portfolios, both via the assumptions within their growth/defensive disclosures and accepted risk measures;
  3. Compulsory disclosure of major asset holdings;
  4. Moving members into go-forward products and removing legacy structures;
  5. Continued rationalisation of member accounts; and
  6. Increased focus on the decumulation phase and the optimisation of the alignment with retiree objectives.

Identifying poorly run funds is not difficult and APRA would be well aware of them. A series of simple measures such as the non-public fee analysis shown below, when combined with other key assessments, quickly shows those funds who have spent the past few decades masking conflicts of interest at the expense of members.

When it costs a fund over $1,200 to run every account (versus a median of $300) or a fund’s operating expenses as a percentage of assets are over two and a half times the median, then those funds bear further scrutiny. Similar work can be done across Investments, Governance, Administration and Insurance, to name a few. By putting together the whole picture, the poor funds are very quickly exposed.

Operating expenses versus size and members

Source: SuperRatings

But it’s not all gloom and doom for the process. Importantly, after 14 years of industry debate, APRA has finally made a call on what constitutes a growth asset and what constitutes a defensive asset. The growth/defensive debate remains loud within the industry but with APRA’s call of Australian Unlisted Property and Australian Unlisted Infrastructure being 25% defensive, at least there is a starting point. SuperRatings suspect this will not however be the final position.

Certainly, APRA’s front foot involvement with data will give cause for reflection for all super funds, as the funds review their results and assess whether it has any implications for their future.

SuperRatings continues to watch the evolution of the market and continues to monitor funds on their effectiveness in responding to key challenges. We look forward to seeing whether the heatmaps evolve over time and remain broadly supportive of APRA’s underlying intentions. However, we underline that this remains only part of the picture and that the risk of making providers look alike is real. In an environment where innovation is needed, regulatory settings to support innovation are vital to ensure a vibrant industry that thrives into the future resulting in better outcomes for members.

Release ends

We welcome media enquiries regarding our research or information held in our database. We are also able to provide commentary and customised tables or charts for your use.
For more information contact:

Jeff Bresnahan
Founder & Chairman
Tel: 1300 826 395
Jeff.Bresnahan@superratings.com.au

Kirby Rappell
Executive Director
Tel: 1300 826 395
Kirby.Rappell@superratings.com.au

Important information: Any express or implied rating or advice is limited to general advice, it doesn’t consider any personal needs, goals or objectives.  Before making any decision about financial products, consider whether it is personally appropriate for you in light of your personal circumstances. Obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement for each financial product and seek professional personal advice before making any decisions regarding a financial product.