How to get the most from your super fund

With so many superannuation funds to choose from, working out which one is the best fit for your retirement savings can be confusing. TelstraSuper CEO Chris Davies offers some suggestions for how to get the most from your super fund.

It’s interesting what people tell you when they find out you work in superannuation. Most young people starting out in the workforce don’t think too much about retirement. Why would they? In their minds, it’s decades away. It also surprises me how many mid-career professionals are juggling multiple super accounts. And many people nearing retirement have built up a lump sum of money but don’t know how much to withdraw and when – or even if it’s enough. There’s quite a bit of angst around that. As well, while most people get their life insurance through their super fund, it still surprises me that they don’t really know what cover they have and how much they are paying for it.

For example, do they have income protection cover as well as total and permanent disablement cover? Talking to their super fund in the first instance is a good starting point for a “health check” on the cover available for them within their fund. While we’re very fortunate to have compulsory super contributions in Australia, what this means is that many people have a set and forget approach. People assume they don’t need to think about their super until much later in life and they don’t seek advice until that point. As someone passionate about superannuation, insurance and financial planning, I believe it’s important Australians have an understanding, no matter their age, about where their super is going and how to maximise it for the future.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your superannuation fund:

1. Check where your money is going

All super funds have fees, but some charge more than others and, can use those fees in different ways. Check whether your fund is a profit-to-members fund, like TelstraSuper, or a for-profit fund which will pass on a portion of its fees to shareholders. When you want to see how your fund is really performing, looking at its returns and fees separately doesn’t always tell the full story. Instead, consider investment returns minus all administration and investment fees, and taxes – it’s the money that actually goes back to you as a member of that fund that’s important. The net return on your savings is what’s going to make a big difference to your superannuation balance when you reach retirement.

2. Look for products and features

There are plenty of perks in your super that can easily be missed, from expert advice to help with budgeting or simply optimising your super account. Some super funds now offer annuity style pension products – often called lifetime pensions, which can be ideal for people who want more income certainty, particularly when inflation is high.
TelstraSuper launched such a product late last year and feedback from members has been very positive.
Only 60% of the amount invested in that product counts towards the Age Pension assets test until age 84 and from then, only 30% of the amount is included as an asset, meaning it can be particularly beneficial for part-pensioners or those who may have just missed out on the pension.

3. Make use of tools and calculators

Many super funds provide digital calculators to both members and non-members.
Much like mortgage calculators can assist those looking to buy a home, superannuation calculators can help people work out how much they might have in retirement, how long their super will last, and the difference making pre- or post-tax contributions might make to their end benefit and their take home salary.

4. Get support from the super experts at your fund

The good news is, most super funds will offer advice, both to members and people interested in joining the fund.
Phone advice is a great way to get quality advice early – and in some cases, it may even be included as part of your membership. This could make a difference to your end result in retirement.
A good adviser will look at your finances but consider your lifestyle as well: how you want to spend your time, where you want to live or if you want to work part-time or volunteer after your retirement.

5. Make the most of online tools

If you’re time poor or uncomfortable speaking to someone over the phone, many super funds offer general and personal advice via a number of digital channels too. TelstraSuper offers webinars and seminars, for example, across a range of topics such as Super 101, making contributions, retirement planning and estate planning. For TelstraSuper members, the Investment Choice selector is our first digital advice tool, provided by TelstraSuper Financial Planning.
This intuitive online tool takes you through a simple step-by step questionnaire, instantly generating a recommendation as to which investment option is the most appropriate. In just a few minutes you can find out your investment style, your appetite for investment risk, and which investment option best suits you. It’s great to have that reassurance.
Remember, it’s never too late to ask questions and seek advice.

Any general advice has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before you act on any general advice, you should consider whether it is appropriate to your individual circumstances. Before making any decision, you should obtain and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination which are available at or by calling 1300 033 166. TelstraSuper Pty Ltd ABN 86 007 422 522/AFSL 236709 in its capacity as trustee for the Telstra Superannuation Scheme ABN 85 502108 833 (TelstraSuper) Telstra Super Financial Planning Pty Ltd ABN 74 097 777 725 AFSL 218705 is wholly owned by Telstra Super Pty Ltd in its capacity as trustee for TelstraSuper. To call an adviser from TelstraSuper Financial Planning call 1300 033 166.

By: Chris Davies