Super fund performance continued to recover over the second half of 2021, with results for the 2021 calendar year indicating member accounts are likely to receive a windfall of over $400 billion.
2021 was another big year for super, with the median Balanced option seeing a return of 13.4% return for calendar year 2021 and positive returns in 11 out of 12 months.
Since the 2000 calendar year, we have only seen 3 negative calendar year returns (2002: -4.8%, 2008: -19.7%, 2011: -1.9%), as shown below. The annualised return since 2000 sits at around 6.6% pa and is slightly ahead of fund objectives of inflation + 3% over rolling 10 year periods. Over the past 22 calendar years, this year’s estimated return would be the 6th highest and reflects the buoyant returns in markets.
This year’s return has again been driven by international shares and Australian shares, while property has also supported growth in balances.
The top 20 performing balanced options all returned 13.9% or more to their members over the year. According to data from leading research house SuperRatings, Hostplus – Balanced was the top performing fund over the 2021 calendar year, returning 19.1%. Followed by QANTAS Super Gateway – Growth and Sunsuper for Life – Balanced whose balanced options returned 18.5% and 16.5% respectively.
Top 20 balanced options over 12 months
|Rank||Option Name||1 Year %||10 Year %|
|1||Hostplus – Balanced||19.1||10.7|
|2||QANTAS Super Gateway – Growth||18.5||9.0|
|3||Sunsuper for Life – Balanced||16.5||10.2|
|4||Christian Super – MyEthicalSuper||16.0||9.0|
|5||TelstraSuper Corp Plus – Balanced||15.9||9.7|
|6||BT Super for Life – Pendal Sustainable Balanced||15.7||8.7|
|7||Suncorp Brighter Super Bus – Suncorp Multi-Manager Growth Fund||15.2||–|
|8||MLC MKey Business Super – Horizon 4 – Balanced Portfolio||15.1||9.3|
|9||AustralianSuper – Balanced||15.0||10.6|
|10||Plum – Pre-mixed Moderate||15.0||9.0|
|11||Vision SS – Balanced Growth||14.8||9.6|
|12||VicSuper FutureSaver – Growth (MySuper) Option||14.8||10.2|
|13||HESTA – Balanced Growth||14.5||9.7|
|14||Aware Super – Growth||14.2||9.9|
|15||legalsuper – Balanced||14.2||9.3|
|16||REI Super – Balanced||14.1||8.9|
|17||CFS-FC Wsale Pers – FirstChoice Wsale Multi-Index Balanced||14.0||9.0|
|18||Active Super – Balanced||13.9||9.1|
|19||CSC PSSap – MySuper Balanced||13.9||9.1|
|20||smartMonday PRIME – Balanced Growth – Active||13.9||9.2|
|SR50 Balanced (60-76) Index||13.4||9.2|
However, superannuation is a long-term investment, therefore while it is interesting to see which funds performed well over the year, this needs to be considered in relation to performance over longer time periods. That way members can see whether their fund is a consistent strong performer as this is what really counts.
Hostplus – Balanced was the top performer over the long-term, as well as on a 1-year basis, with an average annual return of 10.7% over the last decade. Followed closely by AustralianSuper – Balanced and UniSuper Accum (1) – Balanced which both returned 10.6%.
Top 20 balanced options over 10 years
|Rank||Option Name||1 Year %||10 Year % pa|
|1||Hostplus – Balanced||19.1||10.7|
|2||AustralianSuper – Balanced||15.0||10.6|
|3||UniSuper Accum (1) – Balanced||12.5||10.6|
|4||Cbus – Growth (Cbus MySuper)||13.0||10.3|
|5||VicSuper FutureSaver – Growth (MySuper) Option||14.8||10.2|
|6||Sunsuper for Life – Balanced||16.5||10.2|
|7||Aware Super – Growth||14.2||9.9|
|8||CareSuper – Balanced||12.6||9.8|
|9||IOOF Employer Super Core – IOOF MultiMix Balanced Growth Trust||13.6||9.7|
|10||HESTA – Balanced Growth||14.5||9.7|
|11||TelstraSuper Corp Plus – Balanced||15.9||9.7|
|12||Prime Super – MySuper||12.3||9.7|
|13||Equip MyFuture – Balanced Growth||12.0||9.7|
|14||Vision SS – Balanced Growth||14.8||9.6|
|15||Mercy Super – MySuper Balanced||13.3||9.6|
|16||BUSSQ Premium Choice – Balanced Growth||12.5||9.4|
|17||Rest – Core Strategy||13.4||9.3|
|18||legalsuper – Balanced||14.2||9.3|
|19||Media Super – Balanced||12.9||9.3|
|20||MLC MKey Business Super – Horizon 4 – Balanced Portfolio||15.1||9.3|
|SR50 Balanced (60-76) Index||13.4||9.2|
The Bumpiness Factor
With investment markets continuing to exhibit volatile performance compounded by the uncertainty faced around the globe as COVID-19 and its variants persist, it is important to consider the level of bumpiness i.e. the amount of ups and downs in your super account balance that you are comfortable with.
This also depends on what stage of the super journey you are in. For example, if you are younger, you have more time for your balance to recover if there is a dip in performance due to investment markets. Whereas, if you are approaching your retirement, you may not want to risk seeing a sharp dip in your account when you are about to switch to a pension or withdrawing your account balance upon retirement.
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 sits at the top of the table below, which shows that the fund achieved a return of 7.6% p.a. over the past seven years. While this return is below some of its peers, it has achieved this return with less ups and downs along the way.
|Rank||Option Name||7 Year %|
|1||QSuper – Balanced||7.6|
|2||BUSSQ Premium Choice – Balanced Growth||8.4|
|3||Prime Super – MySuper||8.6|
|4||Cbus – Growth (Cbus MySuper)||9.1|
|5||CareSuper – Balanced||8.5|
|6||Statewide Super – Active Balanced||8.2|
|7||Mercy Super – MySuper Balanced||8.6|
|8||Spirit Super – Balanced (MySuper)||8.6|
|9||VicSuper FutureSaver – Growth (MySuper) Option||8.7|
|10||Aware Super – Growth||8.7|
|11||Sunsuper for Life – Balanced||9.2|
|12||Hostplus – Balanced||9.7|
|13||AustralianSuper – Balanced||9.6|
|14||Media Super – Balanced||8.4|
|15||Catholic Super – Balanced Growth (MySuper)||8.1|
|16||IOOF Employer Super Core – IOOF MultiMix Balanced Growth Trust||8.3|
|17||Vision SS – Balanced Growth||8.9|
|18||HESTA – Balanced Growth||8.6|
|19||NGS Super – Diversified (MySuper)||8.1|
|20||CSC PSSap – MySuper Balanced||7.6|
|SR50 Balanced (60-76) Index||8.0|
Spotlight on Sustainable Options
There continues to be a brighter spotlight being shone on the types of investments that funds are making, with members desiring greater consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. The table below shows the top 10 sustainable balanced options ranked according to their 5 year return.
HESTA’s Sustainable Growth option provided the highest return to members over 5 years for a dedicated sustainable option, with a return of 11.7%. Followed by UniSuper Accum (1) – Sustainable Balanced and Super SA Triple S – Socially Responsible which delivered returns of 10.7% and 9.7% respectively.
|Rank||Option Name||5 Year %|
|1||HESTA – Sustainable Growth||11.7|
|2||UniSuper Accum (1) – Sustainable Balanced||10.7|
|3||Super SA Triple S – Socially Responsible||9.7|
|4||Aust Ethical Pers – Balanced||9.4|
|5||VicSuper FutureSaver – Socially Conscious Option||9.3|
|6||CareSuper – Sustainable Balanced||9.1|
|7||Aust Catholic Super & Ret – Socially Responsible||9.1|
|8||AustralianSuper – Socially Aware||9.0|
|9||Sunsuper for Life – Socially Conscious Balanced||9.0|
|10||Mercer Super Trust – Mercer Sustainable Plus Growth||8.9|
|Sustainable Balanced Option Median||8.6|
Kirby Rappell, Executive Director of SuperRatings commented, “In the past we typically found that the performance of sustainable options tended to sit materially below standard balanced options. However, in recent years we have seen a shift, with sustainable balanced options performing competitively relative to standard balanced options.”
2021 was certainly an eventful year for Australia’s superannuation members, with a number of changes taking place, as well as a lot more ups and downs across investment markets.
We are seeing funds merging however there continues to be a large number of products across the market – in our latest review we rated over 530 superannuation products. Our product ratings are accessible on our website here.
Mr Rappell said, “With stapling changes taking effect late last year, your fund will now follow you when you change employers, so it’s time to make sure you are in a good one. As you settle into 2022, now is a good time to do a health check on your fund and be sure to look at returns as well as fees and insurance. While all super funds have good years and those that are more challenging, strong long term performance remains the main game for members.”
Mr Rappell continued, “Overall, it has been a big year for super. If we look at the long term, funds continue to perform well against objectives, but it is a likely to be a rockier year ahead. For consumers, it remains important to set your strategy, stick to it for the long term and future you will likely thank you.”
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.
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