The Productivity Commission has recently delivered to the Federal Government its final report into the Superannuation Industry. It is highly critical of many aspects of how the industry runs.
Some of the main issues raised in the report are –
* Australia’s super system needs to adapt to better meet the needs of a modern workforce and a growing pool of retirees. Structural flaws — unintended multiple accounts and entrenched underperformers — are harming millions of members.
Fixing these twin problems could benefit members to the tune of $3.8 billion each year. Even a 55 year old today could gain $79,000 by retirement. A new job entrant today would have $533,000 more when they retire in 2064.
* While some funds consistently achieve high net returns, a significant number of products underperform, even after adjusting for differences in investment strategy. Underperformers span both default and choice, and most (but not all) affected members are in retail funds.
* Evidence abounds of excessive and unwarranted fees in the super system. Reported fees have trended down but a tail of high-fee products remains entrenched, mostly in retail funds.
* A third of accounts (about 10 million) are unintended multiple accounts. These erode members’ balances by $2.6 billion a year in unnecessary fees and insurance.
* Not all members get value out of insurance in super. Many see their retirement balances eroded — often by over $50 000 — by duplicate or unsuitable (even ‘zombie’) policies.
* The default segment (Industry Funds) outperforms the system on average, but the way members are allocated to default products has meant many have ended up in an underperforming product, eroding nearly half their balance by retirement.
* Regulations (and regulators) focus too much on the interests of funds and not members. Subpar data and disclosure inhibit accountability to members.
Obviously these findings indicate that many fund members have super fund balances that are significantly lower than they should be.
One bright spot is that most fund members can change their super fund to a better performer.
Also, if you have more than one super account, you are probably paying twice as much in administration costs.