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- How the balance of your super account compares
- Super account balances: How they change over time
- How the account balance of your SMSF compares
- Average SMSF member balance by age and gender, 30 June 2020
- What retirement lifestyle will your account balance provide?
- Behind the average super balance for your age? Five action steps to consider
Everyone likes to know how their financial position compares to others of the same age. It’s no different when it comes to saving for your retirement through super.
But how can you find out how your super balance compares with your peers and whether you are on track – or behind the pack?
To make things easy, SuperGuide has pulled together the latest available statistics so you can rate your performance and work out if you need to take action to boost your super savings.
How the balance of your super account compares
One of the most reliable ways to find out what’s going on in other people’s super accounts is to check the superannuation statistics released regularly by the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
According to the latest available ATO statistics, in June 2019 the average super account balance was $162,275 for men and $128,068 for women.
Over the previous two years to June 2019, the average balance for men grew by 10.8% from $146,420, while for women it grew by 12.0% from $114,350.
Although these average super account balances are interesting to know, it’s a lot more useful to find out how much people of a similar age to you currently have in their super account.
If you look closely at the average super balances for different age groups, you get a much clearer picture of where your super savings sit in comparison to your peers.
Average and median super account balance for Australians in different age groups in June 2019
Source: ASFA Developments in account balances: Superannuation account balances for various demographic groups, March 2022 using ATO data.
Super account balances: How they change over time
The ATO statistics show for both men and women the average balance of your super account is likely to increase steadily as you get older. On average, this continues until well into retirement until you are aged 70 plus.
Aussies aged over 55 tend to have a higher super balance. This is largely due to their length of time in the workforce and hence, additional pre-retirement contributions. The super accounts of pre-retirees have also had longer to enjoy the benefits of compounding.
Once you reach age 75, however, you have usually started withdrawing your super and have stopped making contributions, so your super account balance starts to decline.
On average, women still have lower super balances than men, but the gap is reducing. Although in June 2019 women had an average super account balance of $128,068 compared to an average of $162,275 for men, this is an improvement on the situation two years earlier. Average balances in 2019 were only up 10.8% for males, while the average balance for women was up 12.0%.
How the account balance of your SMSF compares
The ATO also compiles information about the account balances for SMSF members by their age and gender.
The latest available data for SMSF account balances is from 30 June 2020. According to these figures, the average SMSF member balance was $696,000 (up 1% per cent from 2018–19). The median SMSF member balance was $415,000 (up 3% from 2018–19).
For female members of SMSFs, the average member balance was $644,000, while among male members of SMSFs, the average balance was $768,000.
As with account balances across super funds more generally, average account balances among SMSF members are much higher than the median account balance. There are a small number of SMSF members with very high balances, which pushes up the average balance in many age groups.
According to the ASFA study, Developments in account balances: Superannuation account balances for various demographic groups, in 2019 the 100 largest SMSFs had more than $50 million, with the single largest SMSF holding assets valued at around $545 million. These extremely high SMSF account balances push up average balances but don’t really help show what the majority of Aussies – or SMSF members – have in their super account.
Generally, the median account balance is a much better indicator of what the bulk of SMSFs members have in their account. For female SMSF members, the median balance at 30 June 2020 was $307,000. Among male members of SMSFs, the median balance was $385,000.
Average SMSF member balance by age and gender, 30 June 2020
Source: ATO SMSF data
What retirement lifestyle will your account balance provide?
Just as everyone has a different super account balance, everyone has a different idea of how much money they will need for a comfortable retirement.
To find out approximately how much retirement income the savings in your super account might be able to generate, check out SuperGuide’s Super to income reckoner.
But if you want to know what retirement lifestyle your current super account balance is likely to deliver compared to other retirees, a good place to start is the ASFA Retirement Standard. This benchmark is updated quarterly with the latest information on costs and is used throughout the super and retirement industry as a starting point for retirement planning.
In 2018, ASFA calculated how big the super lump sum both a single person and a couple required to generate sufficient income to enjoy either a comfortable or a modest lifestyle in their retirement:
|Retirement lifestyle||Super savings required at retirement|
|Comfortable lifestyle – Couple||$640,000|
|Comfortable lifestyle – Single||$545,000|
|Modest lifestyle – Couple||$70,000|
|Modest lifestyle – Single||$70,000|
* All figures in today’s dollars using 2.75% AWE as deflator and assumed investment earning rate of 6%.
Although these lump sum figures have not been updated, they still provide a useful benchmark to help you work out how much you might need to save to fund the type of retirement you want.
The $70,000 lump sum needed for a modest lifestyle is relatively low, as the Age Pension and pension supplements are sufficient to meet much of the expenditure required for this lifestyle.
A comfortable retirement requires a larger balance in your super account. If you want to be able to take domestic holidays and the occasional overseas holiday, go to restaurants and enjoy a good range and quality of food and take part in a range of regular leisure activities, you will need to ensure you have this sort of balance in your super account.
Behind the average super balance for your age? Five action steps to consider
- Check for any lost super: Ensure you don’t have super savings sitting in an account you’ve forgotten.
- Consider consolidating multiple super accounts: Combining super accounts could save fees and charges, but check for any exit fees. And ensure you won’t lose valuable insurance protection.
- Review your investment option: Think about switching to a more growth focused investment option, especially if you are still relatively young and have longer to ride out market fluctuations, but remember this usually comes with more investment risk.
- Consider making additional contributions: Personal tax-deductible contributions add to the balance in your super account and could also cut your annual tax bill. Non-concessional (after-tax) contributions can also be used to boost your super account.
- Ask your employer about a salary–sacrifice arrangement: Adding extra cash into your super account from your before-tax salary will increase your super balance and is usually taxed at a lower rate than your marginal tax rate.