If you want to exercise your right to choose a super fund, you must complete the Standard Choice Form that your employer gives you, and return it to your employer. If you have the right to choose your own super fund, your employer must give you a Standard Choice Form (SCF) within 28 days of you starting a new job.
You can take your time returning your Standard Choice Form, although if you’re keen to change funds; the longer you take to return your SCF, the longer you remain in your existing super fund. You can also decide to change super funds at any time, many years after starting a new job, but you generally can only request a change in super funds once a year.
You can check out a copy of a Standard Choice Form on the ATO website (click here), but for a quick rundown of what is involved, continue reading this article.
Note: Some Australians don’t get to choose their own super fund. You may be one of the 30% of the working population who is not able to exercise fund choice however, due to the fact that your super fund is determined by an industrial award or by an enterprise bargaining agreement. You can check with your employer whether you have the right to choose your super fund. Alternatively, you can check with the ATO, or Fair Work Australia.
Compare super funds
If you do have fund choice, and you want to choose your own super fund, then you will need to first compare super funds to decide on the super fund you want to receive your employer’s super contributions. Some of the factors that may influence your choice include:
- how much you pay in fees (see SuperGuide article Comparing super funds: 10 fees and charges you need to know about)
- level of insurance coverage (see SuperGuide article Life insurance and super: 10 things you should know)
- number of investment options each super fund offers (see SuperGuide article Super control: How to switch your super account’s investment option)
- each fund’s investment performance (see SuperGuide articles Super stars! Top 30 super funds over 5 years and Top 10 performing super funds for 2017 calendar year (and previous years) and Top 10 performing super funds for 2016/2017 financial year (and previous years)).
For more general information, see SuperGuide article Fund choice: Comparing super funds in 8 steps.
Inform your employer of your choice
Once you have selected a super fund, you will then need to understand how to inform your employer of your chosen super fund. You inform your employer by completing a Standard Choice Form and submitting the SCF to your employer. Your employer must act on your request within 60 days of receipt of the SCF.
You don’t have to choose a super fund. If you don’t, your employer chooses a super fund for you (known as the default super fund). If you are considering selecting your own super fund, you can perhaps compare your employer’s default fund with other super funds, then give your employer certain information (via the SCF), and transfer super benefits from your existing super fund (and other super funds) into your chosen super fund.
A SCF has three sections – Section A, Section B and Section C.
The employee (you) completes Section A. You need to give the details of your selected fund to your employer, and note if you are selecting a self-managed super fund, it must be up and running before you submit the SCF. You must provide the following information about your fund via Section A of the SCF:
- Your fund’s name, mailing address and contact number.
- Your membership number and the name in which your account is held.
- Your fund’s Australian Business Number (ABN) (if applicable). An ABN is the key identifier for tax and other governmental purposes. Every business in Australia must have this number.
- Your fund’s Unique Superannuation Identifier
- Letter from your chosen fund confirming that your fund is a complying fund, and written evidence (most likely in the same letter) from your chosen super fund that it can accept contributions from your employer.
- If your chosen fund is a self-managed super fund (also known as a DIY fund), then you need to provide your fund’s Electronic Service Address, your fund’s bank details, and your fund’s ABN. You must also supply a copy of documentation from the Australian Taxation Office confirming the fund is regulated.
- Information from your super fund about how your employer can pay contributions to your super fund
Note: Your employer must ensure that your selection becomes your super fund within two months after giving your completed SCF to your employer.
The employer completes Section B and Section C of the SCF. In Section B, the employer provides his/her/its business name, ABN and a signature from an authorised officer of the employer. This section also gives the name and contact details and unique superannuation identifier of the super fund where your super contributions are going to end up if you don’t make a choice. This section must also supply the fund’s website address. This super fund, chosen by your employer, is known as the default fund.
The employer completes Section C when you return the Standard Choice Form to the employer. The employer records the date they received the SCF from you, and the date they acted on your choice of super fund request. The employer must keep this form for 5 years.
Note: Choosing your super fund is a serious decision with long-term implications. Take the time to do your research and don’t forget that your current fund may be the best super fund for your retirement needs