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When the statement for your super account appears in the mail or your inbox, it can be hard to know what to make of it.
Member statements are often full of figures and terms you don’t quite understand, making them a daunting read. But it’s important to check at least a few key points to ensure your retirement savings are on track.
Here’s a 10-point checklist of things to check to conquer your super statement:
1. Your personal details
- Verify the accuracy of your personal details to avoid problems later on.
- Ensure your email and postal address are still correct.
- Verify that your fund has your tax file number (TFN) or you may pay extra tax. This is generally noted as ‘supplied’. Without a TFN, your fund cannot accept personal super contributions.
Keep all your super statements and documents together in a safe place. This makes it easier to review how your retirement savings have grown over the years and your fund’s overall performance.
2. Your account balance
- Check your account’s opening and closing balance to see how much you had in your account at the start and end of the financial year.
- Review your account balance at 30 June over the past few years, as most funds show this on their annual statements.
- Understand the different components of your account balance:
- Preserved – can be withdrawn if you satisfy a condition of release.
- Restricted non-preserved – can be withdrawn when you leave your employer or satisfy another condition of release. Usually it only applies to contributions made prior to 1 July 1999.
- Unrestricted non-preserved – can be withdrawn at any time, but tax may apply.
For more information, read SuperGuide articles What age can I access my super (Preservation Age)? and What are unrestricted and restricted non-preserved super benefits?
3. Your fees
- Check the fees listed on your statement. These usually include a Member or Administration fee (the cost of managing your account) and Investment fee (the cost of managing your investments), which is often referred to as the Management Expense Ratio (MER). Some funds also charge Contribution (the cost of receiving contributions) and Adviser Service fees (the cost of the advice provided by your financial adviser, if you have one).
- Compare your fees with similar super funds to check you aren’t paying too much. For more information, read SuperGuide’s 10 key super fund fees: What are they and why am I paying them?.
- Consider switching funds if you believe your fees are too high. For more information, read SuperGuide articles What are average super fund fees? and Super and pension funds with the lowest fees.
4. Your insurance
- Check what insurance cover you have as part of your super account and how much you’re being charged for it.
Good to know
The insurance premium listed on your member statement is not a fee. It covers the cost of the insurance – usually death and total and permanent disability cover and possibly income protection – that comes with your fund membership.
- Review whether your insurance cover is at the right level for your personal circumstances. Make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need if you have insurance outside super.
- Think about whether your current level of protection would cover the regular bills or pay off the mortgage if something happened. This should be reviewed annually as your financial circumstances change.
- Check if you’ve lost your insurance cover because your account was inactive. As a result of the 1 July 2019 Protecting Your Super reforms, you may need to reapply for insurance. For more information, see SuperGuide article Protecting Your Super package: What you need to know.
5. Your investment return
- Check how your investments have performed during the year and how your investment return compares to its benchmark. If its performance is similar or better than its benchmark, the fund’s investment team is doing its job.
- Consider whether your return expectations are realistic. If you’re unhappy with your investment return, compare it with the investment returns for the broader investment market and with similar super funds. For more information, read SuperGuide articles How to benchmark your super fund and Super investing: How to switch your investment option.
6. Your investment option
- Check the investment option listed on your super statement, as this explains your mix of investment assets. Each investment option has a different mix of local and international shares, property, fixed interest and cash.
- Think about whether your investment option (such as high growth, balanced, conservative or cash) reflects your current risk profile. Generally, younger fund members should have a higher allocation to growth assets, while members closer to retirement should lean towards a more defensive mix. For more information, read SuperGuide articles Super investing: What is your risk profile? and Risk profiling and your investment choice.
7. Your contributions and transactions
- Review the annual list of transactions for your super account. This should include your employer’s contributions, any personal contributions you made, plus the fees and insurance premiums debited from your account.
- Check your employer has put regular Superannuation Guarantee (SG) amounts into your super account. If SG payments are not there, contact your employer immediately. For more information, see SuperGuide article What to do if your employer doesn’t pay your super.
Need to know
Remember, under the current law your employer must make SG contributions into your super account at least four times a year.
The quarterly due dates for these contributions are 28 January, 28 April, 28 July and 28 October each year.
- Ensure all your personal contributions, such as tax deductible and non-concessional after-tax contributions, are listed on your statement.
- Check your personal contributions are listed as the right type, for example, concessional or non-concessional.
8. Your beneficiaries
- Check the beneficiary nominated to receive the balance of your super account and any insurance benefit if you die. If you’ve nominated a beneficiary, the statement usually notes either ‘nominated’, or the person’s name if you’ve made a binding death benefit nomination.
- Remember to update your death benefit nomination if you have a new partner or have recently separated so the right person gets your benefit. For more information, see SuperGuide article Who gets your super when you die? A guide to death benefit nominations.
9. Your retirement plans
- Consider if your retirement is on track, given the information in your member statement. Many super funds now include a projection of your account balance at retirement on your statement. For more information, read SuperGuide article How accurate is your ‘retirement estimate’? 7 assumptions you need to understand
- Think about whether your current level of contributions will take you to your retirement savings goal, or whether you need to make additional contributions to get there. For more information about planning your retirement, see SuperGuide articles How to plan for your retirement and How much super do I need to retire?
10. Your satisfaction
- Consider whether you’re satisfied with your current super fund. This isn’t listed on your member statement, but now is a good time to think about how you feel about your fund. Are the investment options it offers right for you? How does its customer service stack up? Is the education it offers, or the insurance cover you have, what you want or need? For more information, see SuperGuide articles How to compare super funds in 7 easy steps and Getting to know your super fund and what it can do for you.
- Also consider whether you need to consolidate if you have multiple super accounts. Before making any decision, compare each fund and ensure you check any exit fees and whether you can get the same insurance cover if consolidate your accounts. For more information, see SuperGuide article The easy way to find and consolidate your lost super.