The reasons you should check in on your super fund now

Many Australians can go for months – maybe even years – without looking at the balance of their superannuation fund. This isn’t particularly ideal in normal times, but at the moment, with all the uncertainty caused by covid-19, it’s especially important to make sure all’s well with your retirement fund.

If you’re one of the Aussies who only has a vague idea, or maybe no real idea at all, of their super balance, then you need to take some action. It’s never been more important to make sure you have a grip on this investment; you could also save yourself quite a lot of money and ensure better returns.

Scammers are targeting superfunds during the covid-19 crisis

The government has allowed Australians whose finances have been adversely affected by coronavirus to make one or two early withdrawals from their super funds. Savers have been able to withdraw up to $10,000 during the 2019–2020 financial year and they’ll be able to withdraw a further $10,000 (maximum) between 1 July and 31 December 2020.

The second round of early withdrawals opened on July 1 and the total amount of funds removed from the nation’s super funds could top $40 billion by December 2020.

While you might not have needed to dip into your superfund, or you may have only wanted to make one withdrawal rather than two, someone else might take money from your fund fraudulently.

More than 150 Australians have had money stolen from their supers by identity fraudsters

There have been more than 150 instances of scammers pretending to be someone else in order to withdraw from their super. These cases of fraud are being investigated and dealt with by the ATO.

It’s a good idea to make sure that your fund hasn’t been nibbled at. Look over your recent transactions to see if there are any unexpected or suspicious withdrawals.

You may also receive a text message to let you know “your” application has been processed and that the funds will clear within five to seven working days. If you didn’t apply to release funds, you must contact the ATO immediately to let them know the application is fraudulent so that action can be taken to stop the withdrawal.

Make sure your employer has paid into your super fund

Your employer must pay into your super fund each quarter. You should receive four payments a year from them and the due date for the first quarter of 2020 was April 28, with the due date for the second quarter being July 28. It’s actually a legal requirement for your employer to make this payment, with penalties imposed for being late, so you need to check it’s gone in.

Head to your account online and look at the transactions from the last few months. You should see a super guarantee payment from your employer, but if you haven’t then you need to contact them to find out what’s happened and to ask for the payment to be made.

If you have more than one super fund you could be paying more than you need to

You might have changed jobs in the 2019–2020 financial year, or taken on a part–time job to help out your household finances during covid-19. These changes might mean that you have two or more super funds, which sounds great in theory, but in practice you’ll be paying fees on each super fund you have.

It’s quite easy to check if you have two or more funds running. Simply log into your myGov account and look through the ATO services connected to your super. You’ll be able to see if you have more then one fund and if you do, then you could save some money by consolidating them into one.

You might find that you’re paying high fees and getting low returns

When you check in with your super fund, you should also look at the fees you’re paying and the returns the fund is offering you. It may well be that you’re paying too much in fees and not getting the best returns possible.

Your super fees can make a huge difference to your eventual fund

The fees applied to super funds include administration fees, investment fees, performance fees and other indirect costs associated with maintaining the fund.

On average, super savers can expect to pay between 0.90 per cent and 1.28 per cent of their account balance in fees each year and while this might not seem like much, it can make a big difference over the years.

Head to a super fund calculator to work out how much you’ll have in your fund at retirement and what this can mean for your annual income when you’re no longer working.

You can also use the calculator to see how much impact on your final balance your fees have.

A good example of how fees can impact the balance of a super fund is that of a 25–year–old, with a salary of $85,000, starting his fund with an opening balance of $24,000. His employer contributes the equivalent of 9.5 per cent of his salary at source and he decides to contribute a further 10 per cent each month. He plans to retire at the age of 67 and this calculation takes into account an annual salary increase of 2.1 per cent.

If this saver pays fees of 0.90 per cent of his fund balance each year, he’ll retire with $1,222,132, having paid $291,003 in fees.

If the fees go up to 1.1 per cent of the balance, our diligent saver will retire with $1,169,456 in his fund after paying $343,680 in fees. This is a difference of $52,000 over the course of his working life, even though the difference between 0.9 per cent and 1.1 per cent doesn’t seem that huge.

Don’t forget to compare other investment options such as hight interest savings accounts or term deposits.

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