1300 768 491

simplifying your
financial journey
  • Did you know...
    That you can get all your
    life insurance premiums
    paid directly from your
    superannuation?

Start Finance  | 1300 768 491

Please note the advice provided on this website is general advice only and does not take into account personal circumstances and/or financial particulars. For this reason, please take into consideration your financial goals and personal circumstances before acting on any of the information provided.

 

Start Finance
Superannuation

Super is one of the most important accounts many Australians will hold in their lifetime, do you know your superannuation account balance? Are you sure of how many superannuation accounts you have?

If you have ever changed your name, address or employment, you may have some lost super.  A member is recorded as having lost super when their account has been inactive for two or more years. This is your money and future retirement. You are likely to be paying fees on your lost super, which can decrease your balance over time.

Why not locate your missing super monies and collate them in one fund ensuring you are only paying one set of fees with the option of having your life insurance premiums paid through your superannuation fund. Not only minimising your out of pocket expenses but ensuring your super is working for you.

Life Insurance

Do you want “Peace of Mind” – knowing your family is protected financially in the event of your death? Life insurance does that. Life insurance is taken out by an individual to provide a financial payout in the event of your death. Policies generally provide a lump sum payment and therefore provide financial stability to the nominated beneficiaries.  There are many different life insurances including term life insurance, total permanent disability (TPD) insurance, trauma insurance and income protection.

We are an Australian owned company and are able to compare up to 15 insurance companies with an instant quote for you to make an informed decision.

Income Protection Insurance

Nobody likes to think about the possibility of suffering a serious illness or injury in the future. You can’t foresee this happening, but you can make plans to help support yourself should the unexpected happen. Income Protection insurance can provide you with an ongoing monthly income in the event you become disabled (either totally or partially) and are unable to work due to sickness or injury.

Payment of a benefit will commence at the expiry of the waiting period and will continue until the end of the benefit period as long as you remain disabled.

Why consolidate your superannuation

Statistics show most Australians have more than 4 Super accounts. Whilst in theory, most of us would like to consolidate our funds and make the most of our money; many of us never get around to doing it. By ignoring lost Super and failing to consolidate our accounts, we are essentially throwing away our hard earned cash.

A staggering amount of rules and regulations govern Superannuation in Australia. Our job at Super Search is to make Super simple. With our help, you will easily find and roll all of your accounts into one easy to manage fund. Remember - a dollar saved on fees is an extra dollar towards your retirement.

Introduction to superannuation

Superannuation is a long term savings vehicle which aims to provide for you in retirement. While many older Australians receive and rely on the Age Pension, this alone is insufficient to provide for a comfortable retirement.

If you earn more than $450 per month and are aged between 18 – 70 years of age, you are legally entitled to regular and ongoing super contributions equal to 9.5% of your regular earnings.  If you wish to accelerate the growth of your Super, you may choose to make additional, voluntary payments.

Once you reach retirement age, the amount of income received will depend on the sum of contributions paid, the way in which your money has been managed as well as the fees attached to your super fund.

The earlier you take an interest in your Superannuation, the greater your financial reward come retirement time.

Super Search

Super Search operates Australia wide to take the hard work out of finding, comparing and consolidating your Superannuation.

we are a non-institution owned company. Our team of advisers are fully qualified and up to date with the latest industry products and services to ensure your retirement savings are back on track and you are back in control of your wealth.

Purchasing Investment Properties with your Super

With the current economic issues and heavy share market losses more and more people are turning to property investment through their self-managed super funds. A change in legislation a few years ago opened the door for many to invest in bricks and mortar through their super, even allowing funds to be borrowed through their SMSF to purchase property assets.

 

Direct superannuation investment in property has traditionally been restricted to those with massive super balances, but provided that the average super balance in Australia in less than $50,000 there was no chance of investing in property without having to borrow, until recently that is. A SMSF now has the ability to borrow approximately 70% of the property value.

 

Purchasing property within super is becoming a huge positive, mainly due to the potential tax benefits, some cases resulting in no capital gains tax. 

 

As with all investment opportunities, you should seek financial advice for your personal situation.


Salary Sacrifice

Your employer can tell you if they offer salary sacrifice arrangements and what you must do to arrange this. Your employer may charge an administration fee to implement salary sacrifice arrangements.

 

If you make super contributions under an effective salary sacrifice arrangement, there may be benefits for both you and your employer. Super contributions are not a fringe benefit, this means if salary sacrificed super contributions are made to a complying super fund, and the sacrificed amount is not considered a fringe benefit for tax purposes your employer will not be liable to pay fringe benefits tax (FBT) on the super contributions or need to include your super contributions as a reportable fringe benefit amount on your payment summary. Salary sacrificed contributions are treated as employer contributions. Super contributions are deductible for your employer and salary sacrifice reduces your assessable income. The sacrificed component of your total salary package is not your assessable income for taxation purposes. This means that it is not subject to pay as you go (PAYG) withholding tax. As you influence the amount of the extra super contributions your employer makes to your super fund, any salary sacrificed amounts will be reportable employer super contributions. If you make super contributions through a salary sacrifice agreement, these contributions are taxed in the super fund at a maximum rate of 15%. Generally, this amount of tax is less than what you would pay if you did not enter into a salary sacrifice agreement and instead were subject to PAYG withholding tax on your earnings. However, it is important to remember the concessional tax treatment is limited to a set amount of contributions made each income year.

Nominating Beneficiaries

Because your superannuation (and any life insurance attached to it) is generally not covered in your will you will need to ensure you have nominated a beneficiary who you want your superannuation to be paid to in the event of your death.

 

A nominated beneficiary is a person (or persons) whom a fund member nominates to receive the super if the member dies. This can be any person in an interdependent relationship with you or who is financially dependent on you at the time of your death. This includes your spouse – including defactos and same sex partners, your children – of any age or the legal representative of your estate. If your beneficiaries are nominated correctly, benefits paid are usually tax-free.

 

To find out more about nominating or updating your beneficiary you should contact your super fund.

Industry Super funds, are you really comparing apples to apples?

 

The comparison seems rather compelling, lower fees, more funds in your account. But is this really the big picture? Industry and retail finds offer different services and price structures.

 

Industry funds are associated with low costs, limited investment options and no adviser commissions. Where retail funds are generally more comprehensive and provide multiple products with greater investment options. However some retail funds have now introduced low-cost products that are the same price or even cheaper than some industry funds and offer extra benefits such as personal insurance.

 

So how do they really compare? Make sure you do your research and consider the investment options, available insurance, fund performance, fees and other services including member benefits   or speak to a financial planner in regards to your needs and financial situation.

Consolidate your super

Why should I consolidate my Superannuation Accounts?

It will make a larger difference to your superannuation account balance then you may initially think. Not only will you be reducing your fees being paid out of each of your accounts, you can keep track of your money easier with only one statement for your one superannuation account. If you are one of the many Australian’s that each quarter end up with multitudes of envelopes you may be paying more fees than you are aware of, and all this is eating into your retirement!

 

You could have superannuation that you didn’t know about or had completely forgotten about. It is estimated that Australian employees have approximately $18.8 billion in missing superannuation monies. It is worth searching for these missing accounts and consolidating them to your one active account.

How to make your Super work for you

Whether you’re new to the workforce or simply considering a change in your superannuation fund, you need to address a number of factors to ensure you select the right find to meet your needs and retirement goals.

Here are 5 points we recommend you investigate before settling on a super fund:

1)     Fees

 

Don’t be fooled, even minor variation in fees can amount to a substantial difference years down the track. Make sure your retirement nest egg is protected from unnecessary administration costs.

 

2)     Investment options

When pondering you investment options consider the following questions.

A) The level of risk you are comfortable with.

B) The degree of involvement in your superannuation you would like.

3)     Investment performance

As Superannuation is a long term investment that is dependent on a range of variables such as investment options, insurance benefits and fees it is important you consider the big picture.

4)     Additional benefits

Many people are surprised to learn that you can combine your superannuation with your insurance. This equates to no out of pocket expense for insurance as your premiums come straight out of your superannuation account. Additional benefits of structuring your insurance in this manner include less paperwork to worry about, tax effectiveness and the ability to purchase insurance as a cheaper rate due to the bulk buying power of Super funds.

5)     Account access and customer service

Ensure you select a fund that provides good customer service and enables you to easily access your account.

Go with the flow - Super that changes with you

Just as personal situations change, so should your Super. This means that the investment strategies selected when you first entered the workforce will require updating as you age and enter different stages in life.

When analysing what is the best and most suited superannuation strategy for you, consider the following two factors 1) Your individual risk profile and 2) The length of time you're investing. In other words, would you prefer to select safer, more conservative investment strategy or one with greater return potential, but higher risk? Level of risk is directly related to when you wish to retire. If retirement is decades away, then you can afford to take greater risk as you have more time in which to recover.

A great way to ensure your investment strategy matches your stage in life is to opt for a Lifestage funds. Lifestage funds evolve and change over time matching your attitude to risk with an appropriate investment strategy. For this reason, Lifestage funds adopt a greater level of risk and are more growth-oriented when you are young and change to a more conservative asset mix as you steer closer towards retirement age.

Do your homework with superannuation

It is important to do your homework when selecting a Superannuation Fund. There are many factors to consider when making your decision, not just the fees. As Superannuation is Australia’s chosen vehicle for retirement savings, making the wrong choice can have adverse consequences in the future. There are 5 main types of superannuation funds available these include: Industry funds, corporate funds, retail funds, public sector funds and lastly self managed funds. Additional points to consider when selecting your fund of choice include: 1) The performance of the super fund 2) Available investment options 3) Fees 4) Insurance options available within the super fund and 5) Services and business strengths on offer. 

Transition to Retirement

If you are nearing retirement age you may have heard of the concept of Transition to Retirement. Transition to Retirement allows senior members of the workforce to access funds from their superannuation whilst they are still working.

 

To be eligible for Transition to Retirement, you must have reached the preservation age. Preservation age varies depending on which year you were born.

 

 

Date of Birth

Preservation age

Before 1 July 1960

55

1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961

56

1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962

57

1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963

58

1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964

59

After 30 June 1964

60

 

 

The benefits of embracing Transition to Retirement includes the ability A) Boost your regular wage or B) Choose to work part-time, but maintain your full-time salary by drawing on your superannuation funds to supplement the difference.

 

The ATO has created a set of rules which govern how much or how little you can withdraw from your super fund when under the age of 65. The minimum has been set at 4% of your super fund balance and the maximum being 10% of your super fund balance.

 

An additional rule governing Transition to Retirement specifies that you can only access your super as a ‘non-commutable’ income stream. This means that you can only receive your super as regular payments, rather than as a lump sum cash payment while you are still working.

 

Transition to Retirement also has many tax incentives. We recommend you discuss your individual situation with your accountant as variables can impact on the tax implications of transition to retirement.

 

 

 

 

 

In general, the following tax incentives may apply:

 

Lower-tax rate

As long as you fall within the current contribution cap, salary sacrifice contributions made to your super fund are taxed at the reduced rate of 15%.
Age tax concessions

Individuals aged between 60 and their preservation age may be eligible to receive a 15% tax offset on the taxable part of your income.

Tax-free Income

Upon your 60th birthday, your transition to retirement super income becomes tax free.

 

Tax-free investment earnings

Instead of being taxed at 15%, the earnings made by the assets backed by your transition to retirement income are in fact tax free.

Self Managed Super Funds

Many Australians would classify their superannuation as their greatest investment. For this reason, many opt to enlist a professional to manage our super fund. There are however, individuals who prefer to have control of their superannuation and would benefit from selecting a self managed super fund (SMSF). As the name suggests a SMSF requires self management, this equates to regular monitoring and input and the associated skills and expertise to do so.

The alternate option is to hire a professional to help you manage your SMSF on your behalf.
For instance you could enlist the assistance of a tax agent to prepare your fund’s accounts and/or a fund administrator to help you manage the day to day running of your fund and meet your annual reporting and administration obligations. Individuals keen on a SMSF may also seek the advice of a financial advisor to help them prepare an investment strategy.

 

SMSF generally comprise 1 – 4 trustees, all of whom must be members of the SMSF. More often than not, the trustees of a SMSF are related through either family or business and are in charge of running the fund and acting in the best interest of its members. In some circumstances, someone may decide to set up a single member SMSF. In this case, one must have a second trustee which can be either an individual or a corporation.
A SMSF must be compliant with Superannuation Industry Legislation and the Income Tax Assessment Act. It must run in accordance with its trust deed and must be a resident fund in order to meet compliance.

 

The benefits of opting for a SMSF include:

1)      Tax incentives

2)      Greater control over how your money is invested

3)      Improved fund security

 

As well as setting up an investment strategy for your SMSF, the following steps must be performed:

1)      Check the residency of your fund

2)      Create your trust deed

3)      Determine the structure of your fund.

4)      Appoint your trustees

5)      Register with the ATO

6)      Open a bank account for your fund.

The Sole Purposes Test is an additional and essential step to creating your SMSF. This test requires that the sole purpose of the SMSF is to provide its members or if the member dies before retirement the member’s dependents or beneficiaries with retirement benefits.

Why Financial Advice Matters

Independent research released by the Financial Services Council has illustrated that people who receive financial advice saved an extra $1590 a year after advice costs when compared to those without a financial adviser. The study also showed that those who sought financial advice on superannuation were up to $100,000 better off at retirement age due to improved savings behaviour.

In addition to improved savings for both general and superannuation savings, financial advice has also been shown to improve insurance cover. The study found that on average, those with a financial adviser were at least four times more likely to hold some form of life insurance and those with insurance held premiums with $260,000 worth of life insurance cover compared with only $100,000 for those who purchased insurance without the direction of a financial adviser. As such, if a family were to rely on an insurance payout, they would be better off if the premium was recommended by their financial adviser.

Given the benefits attached to financial advice, it is essential the government creates reforms which enable easy access to financial advice.

Self Employed Superannuation

Superannuation for the self-employed can be tricky business. For starters, the vast majority of self-employed Australians would rather inject additional money into their business rather than towards their superannuation fund. It’s important to be smart and think ahead as being self-employed can actually have a number of advantages when making contributions towards your Superannuation.

These advantages include:

1)     Tax deductions

Up until the age of 75, personal concessional contributions are entitled to a full tax deduction. In some situations, small business operators engaged in their business may have the added flexibility of deciding whether to distribute profits via salary, employer superannuation contributions or distributions to an interposed entity.

 

2) CGT retirement exemptions

The small business retirement exemption allows qualifying small business owners to access an exemption from CGT, up to a lifetime maximum of $500,000 when the proceeds of the sale of their business are contributed towards superannuation to fund their retirement.

3) Non-concessional contribution caps

Non-concessional contribution caps is an important concession for any small business owner who is nearing retirement age and is keen to make contributions above the standard contributions limits for the purposes of establishing a tax-effective retirement income.

Contributions stemming from the disposal of small business assets that qualify for the CGT small business retirement exemption or the 15-year exemption are excluded from the non-concession al contributions cap up to a lifetime "CGT cap amount" of $1.1m.

As well as the annual cap on non-concessional contributions, small business taxpayers may contribute money arising from the disposal of assets that qualify for these CGT small business concessions.

Superannuation Contributions

By law, your employer is required to make ongoing and regular superannuation contributions equal to 9% of your salary. However, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, this amount is insufficient. They calculate the average working Australian should store away 12%-15% of their salary over a 30 year period as a minimum. Consequently, many of us will need to make additional super contributions in order to live comfortably come retirement age. On a positive note, if you begin making personal contributions towards your superannuation early on in your working career, even small personal contributions will make a significant difference to your retirement savings in the long run.

So the best time to start making the additional contributions is sooner rather than later as not only will you end up with a greater total sum of money, you will also be able to take advantage of the benefits of compound interest.

Personal contributions to your superannuation can be made either from your pre-tax salary (also known as salary sacrifice) or from your post-tax salary. Different taxation rules apply to each method of contribution and depending on your financial situation one may be better for you.

Opting for Salary Sacrifice enables you to reduce your taxable income. This ultimately means you will pay less income tax whilst at the same time boost your retirement savings. In addition, superannuation salary sacrifice contributions are taxed at just 15%, significantly less that the income tax rates of the high income earner which can be up to 46.5% including the Medicare Levy.

Voluntary post-tax superannuation contributions are not subject to any additional tax when they enter or leave the fund as you have already paid tax on these amounts. In addition, if you are a low-income earner and earn less than $61,920 per annum, post-tax contributions may attract a superannuation co-contribution of up to $1000 per annum from the Government.

Government regulations dictate who can make personal superannuation contributions into their own super account. If you are aged less than 65 no restrictions apply and you are able to make personal contributions regardless of work status. If you are aged between 65 and 74 then personal contributions can be made if you have worked at least 40 hours over 30 consecutive days during the financial year in which the contributions are made. Personal contributions are not allowed for those aged 75 and over.

Retirement; how much will it cost you?

Although retirement may feel like a million years away, it’s important to consider the cost of retirement and how much money you will need to live comfortably once you stop working and enjoy your well-earned rest.

We encourage you to take the time to consider you daily expenses upon retirement age. Will you still have a mortgage or other debts to repay? Consider the general day to day expenses as well as potential luxuries such as holidays, a new car or even a boat! Make sure you set aside the time to come up with your personalised list.

To help you achieve your retirement dreams, ensure your superannuation is in order. Do you have lost or missing superannuation accounts? Do you need to consolidate your funds into the one account to avoid paying unnecessary fees? Consolidation is especially important the closer you get to your target retirement date.

The friendly and accredited staff at Super Search can help you track down your lost Super accounts. We can consolidate your funds and advise you on the best fund to meet your needs. So remember, plan now for a prosperous and fulfilling future.

 

Regards,

Evolution - The key to maximising your Super savings.

To ensure you get the most from your chosen Superannuation fund, it’s essential you adjust and evolve your investment strategies over time.

Two factors to keep in mind when determining the best investment strategies for are 1) the length of time you are investing and 2) the individual risk profile of your desired investment strategy.

With this in mind, it makes sense for a conservative investor to opt for a balanced fund with a mix of stable performers such cash and bonds. However, if someone was keen to reap greater profits and was comfortable with the associated risks then a more aggressive fund investing in Australian and international shares may be the better fit.

The time of investment or more specifically the length of time until retirement will also determine how aggressive or conservative one should be with their superannuation strategies. As one would imagine, this is because someone who is far from retirement age has a greater length of time to recover from financial ups and downs. Conversely, if someone has only a few years until retirement, steering away from riskier assets will provide protection against significant market changes.

With this in mid, many opt for what are known as Lifestage Funds. Lifestage Funds work by matching your attitude to risk with an appropriate investment strategy. As such, Lifestage Funds evolve with you to provide an efficient and well-diversified portfolio that’s designed and managed according to your age and associated risk profile. Consequently, Lifestage Funds are more aggressive and growth-oriented in your younger years as you have more time to withstand the impact of market fluctuations on the value of your investment. As you move closer to retirement, your Lifestage Fund will shift to a more conservative asset mix to ensure you superannuation savings are safe and you can enjoy a well-earned rest.

Ever considered contributing to your spouse’s Superannuation?

Many are surprised to learn they can supplement their spouse’s superannuation fund by making a contribution on their behalf.  Additionally, if your spouse is either a low-income earner or no longer working, then you may claim a tax offset as the contributing partner.

If you are keen to make additional spouse contributions, the following conditions must be met.

1)      You must be under 65 years of age OR aged between 65 & 70 years of age and gainfully employed on at least a part time basis.

2)      You must be legally married or de-facto to the person making the contributions.

3)      The spouse must provide their Tax File Number to super fund receiving the contribution.

Some of the advantages attached to making superannuation contributions on behalf of your spouse include receiving a tax offset. This offset may be as high as 18% if your spouse's assessable income is $10,800 or less with the maximum offset of $540 available. If your spouse’s income is greater than $10,800, the offset is calculated on the lesser of $3,000 reduced by $1 for every dollar that your spouse's income exceeds $10,800 or the amount of the spouse’s contribution. Consequently, the offset is no longer available when the recipient spouse's income is more than $13,800.

Further advantages of making contribution on behalf of your spouse include:

1)      The capabilities of funding your spouse’s life cover through their superannuation.

2)      Tax savings benefits associated with splitting assets.

3)      Tax savings afforded when investing in a concessionally taxed environment.

4)      The taxable portion of an income stream is subject to a 15% tax offset if paid to recipient aged between 55 and 59 years of age

5)      The accumulated superannuation savings can be in a tax-free environment when an income stream is started. A complying superannuation fund is generally entitled to a tax exemption for so much of its income as is attributable to its liability to pay current income stream payments.

 

It’s good to know there is no upper limit with regards to how much you can contribute to your spouse’s super. Although the tax offset is calculated on amounts of $3,000 or less you can contribute as much as you like. As spouse contributions are viewed as non-concessional contributions, contributions up to the cap of $150,000 will not be taxed within the fund. If non-concessional contributions exceed this cap, the amount exceeding the cap will be taxed at the highest marginal tax rate plus the Medicare Levy. In some situations, the averaging rules may be used, which may allow up to $450,000 of non-concessional contributions to be made in a financial year.

Another interesting fact is that the additional superannuation contributions made on behalf of one’s spouse are treated as a tax free component in the superannuation funds. As such, the full value of the additional contributions, less the fees is retained. When the time comes to withdraw money from the superannuation fund, namely at retirement age they form part of the tax free component of a super lump sum payment. For this reason, these amounts are not included in your spouse's assessable income and are tax-free.

Are you aware changes have been made to the Government Co-Contribution Superannuation scheme?

As of the 1st of July 2012, Australians will see a 50% reduction in Government Co-Contributions. Similarly, the contribution match will also drop from 100% to 50%. Reassuringly, the government has not changed the income threshold levels for the scheme which stays at $31,920. If you’re wondering where the spare money will be siphoned, the government states it will be allocated to fund other superannuation measures such as the low income super contribution of $500.

By reducing the co-contribution payments, the government has effectively reduced the effective upper income limit. This means that as of July 1st 2012, individuals earning up to $61,920 will no longer qualify for a co-contribution of some value. Instead the upper limit has now been set at $46,920. As was the case pre July 2012, those who qualify for a Government Co-Contribution will have their co-contribution reduced by 3.333 cents for every extra $1 earned over the $31,920 threshold.

This essentially means that those most affected by the changes to the scheme will be Australians who earn more than $37,000 (upper threshold for the low income superannuation contribution), but who do not qualify for the low income superannuation contribution.

Those who do qualify for the co-contribution scheme can still access the superannuation concessional contributions cap of up to $25,000 per year. They will also be able to continue making deductible superannuation contributions via employee salary sacrifice or for the self-employed, as a deductible contribution

What are the pros and cons of purchasing insurance through your Superannuation?
  • Australians have the options of purchasing a personal insurance policy within or outside their superannuation fund. Although most superannuation funds within Australia offer a range of insurance products including Life Insurance, TPD Insurance and Salary Continuance Insurance; each with varying levels of coverage and cost, some individuals find their needs are better catered for by a policy outside their super.

Some of the benefits attached to having your insurance within your super fund include the following:

  1. Increased cash flow, as premiums are paid directly by your super.
  2. As premiums are paid with pre-tax dollars, tax benefits exist.
  3. Death benefits paid to dependents are usually tax free.
  4. You don’t have to think about managing your policy as premiums are automatically taken out of your fund.
  5. If you do not have any pre-existing conditions most super funds will automatically provide cover without the need for a medical exam.
Which factors negatively affect a woman’s superannuation balance?

Research indicates that women generally have lower superannuation balances when compared with men. The major reasons for this are the following:

  • The average earnings of women lag behind the average earnings of men.
  • Women who go on to have children spend less time in paid work and have reduced opportunity to contribute towards their super. Reports suggest that leaving work for 5 years will results in 26% less super than someone who does not take time off to raise a family.
  • As women generally outlive their male counterparts, their retirement will be longer. Figures show, women will require 13% more savings than men.
  • Many traditional households had “stay at home” mothers. These meant women relied on their husband’s income and had reduced opportunities to build their super.

If you are yet to experience these events, and are concerned for your superannuation balance come retirement age there are a number of strategies you can employ. These include:

  1. Contributing to your super via alternate means such as taking advantage of spouse contribution, suer splitting or the government co-contribution scheme.
  2.  Develop a savings plan whereby you contribute more than the minimum 9% of your wage.
  3. Weigh up if your superannuation has been invested to maximise your returns and/or protect your savings from market fluctuations.

Some women fear they be unable to accrue adequate savings by the time they retire. If you are nearing retirement age then consider how you could make additional contributions. Often at this stage in life the mortgage has been paid off and children have left home thereby freeing up some money.


How to make the most of your Super

If you are keen to ensure you have adequate savings come retirement age then consider the following points.

  • If you’re in the position to do so, aim to make extra contributions on top of the mandatory 9%.
  • Take the time to figure out how much you will need to retire comfortably. It’s worth using an online superannuation calculator or speaking with your financial supervisor to get an accurate and realistic figure.
  • Read the statements sent out by your superannuation fund. This will provide important information on how your money has been invested and how your fund performed in the previous year. It also allows you to check that your employer has made the correct contributions on your behalf.
  • Make sure your superannuation fund has your current mailing address. You won’t be able to keep track of your savings, if the statements never make it to your mailbox.
  • Consider rolling multiple superannuation accounts into 1 account. This will not only make administration easier, you will also save money on account keeping fees.
  • Although purchasing life insurance through your super seems like the logical decision, ensure your regular premiums are not eating away your retirement savings.
  • Consider reviewing your superannuation strategy on an annual basis to ensure your savings are on track and your personal situation hasn’t changed, eliciting the need to change your investment strategy.
  • Last, but not least, if you are unsure of your superannuation fund and associated investment strategies, contact a financial adviser.
How to maximise superannuation at any stage in life.

Ensuring you have enough superannuation to comfortably retire on can be challenging and daunting task. The good news is there are a number of steps you can take better manage your superannuation at any stage in life. So whether you are young and single or an empty nester we’ve got some important pointers to keep in mind.

Young & Single:

Although retirement may feel like a million years away at this stage in life, take advantage of setting up your superannuation right from the start. In order to do this, you should select the right superannuation fund for your needs and try to stay with the one fund. You may wish to employ the expertise of a financial adviser to select the right investment strategy. Another point to consider is making extra contributions to your superannuation with money left over from your tax return funds.

Young Couples:

Now is a good time to calculate how much superannuation you may need for the future. If you have more than one super fund, roll your accounts into the 1 to avoid paying unnecessary fees and make administration and management easier. Given your situation may have changed at this stage in life, review your investment strategy and make necessary changes. If funds permit, make extra contributions to your superannuation with your tax return funds. If motherhood has prevented you from working, see if your partner can make extra superannuation contributions on your behalf and also consider government co-contributions.

Mature Families superannuation stage

Once again, given your personal situation has probably changed, review your investment strategy and make necessary changes. Investigate investment strategies which may boost your super savings and consider making extra contributions with tax return funds.

Empty Nesters superannuation stage

Calculate if you will have enough savings for a comfortable retirement. If you are concerned, then enlist the help of a financial adviser to boost your superannuation balance. Given many financial commitments have ended at this stage in life such as the mortgage and school fees, aim to make extra contributions with your tax return funds. Finalise your work plan; what age will you retire, or do you plan to work part-time for a few more years to ease into retirement? Lastly investigate transition to retirement and superannuation income stream options. If you do you research early on, it can make the final decision much easier come retirement time.

 

YOUNG PEOPLE CAN CONTROL THEIR FACEBOOK BUT NOT THEIR FUTURE

Superannuation is one of the most debated and topical issues amongst Australians. However, when it comes to it how many actually have it set up correctly in order to provide for their future? Many are able to provide status updates and upload photos of the here ad now but are failing to look out for their future. Gone are the days where we can rely upon the age pension to provide our income in retirement. It is my prediction that by the time the Y generation reaches retirement the government will have announced that the age pension will become non-existant.

 

It astounds me as to how many young people between 30-40 don’t have a grip upon their Superannuation. Several times a day we see clients within this bracket who hold on average of 5-7 superannuation funds. Some of these funds are charging them up to 4% p/a. They are also paying 5-7 lots of admin fees instead of consolidating all of their funds into one low fee account. Next year on the 1st July 2013 the SG rate will be increased by 0.25% and gradual increases will occur annually up to 2019-20 when it will hit 12 %. If a superannuation firm charges- $1.50 per week (on average-‘Australian Super Fund’) then across the year in one fund they will pay $78 per year- and if they had 5 funds then that totals $390 per year. If they are 30 (35 years from retirement and continue in the same manner then they would be paying $10, 920 per year more or have lost that out of their superannuation funds).  That’s a lot of money!!!

 

So instead of updating your profile-reflecting on the present get your future sorted by getting your superannuation under control.

Super Research

Data released by Selecting Super, a branch of the research group Rainmaker highlighted the poor performance of Australian Superannuation funds over the 5 past years. Collated data additionally showed that most Australians are not actively involved in the selection of their Super fund, allowing their employer to select their fund for them.

As a result of the Global Financial Crisis, the majority of super funds experienced a negative return after fees and taxes were taken into account. Of the 83 default super options available in Australia, 51 of them delivered negative annual returns for members whilst only 32 delivered positive returns. This illustrates the importance of selecting the right fund, to ensure your retirement savings are protected.

Of the top performing default options, REST Industry Super produced an annual return of 6.7% after fees and taxes. In contrast, Connelly Temple Employer Super was found to be the worst performer, returning only 2.5 % per annum.

Although some may caution against judging a Super fund’s potential on their past performance, many industry experts would encourage such activity likening the performance and track record of a Super funds to a footy team.

Regardless of the performance of your Super Fund (s), one of the easiest ways to reduce your loss is to ensure you have only one Super fund, to avoid paying unnecessary administration and account keeping fees.

How to select the best Superannuation fund for you

Given the age pension is no longer sufficient to fund a comfortable retirement, Superannuation is becoming increasingly important. Choosing the right super fund can make a significant difference to your final bank balance, but knowing which fund to select is not straight forward. With hundreds of funds to choose from in Australia, it’s important to consider your individual situation and financial goals. Factors which will affect your choice of fund include your age, income, investment risk and choices, as well as any extra contributions you may make in addition to the standard 9%.

Here is a list of points to consider when determining the best super fund for you:

Fees

We recommend you read the product disclosure statement so you can better calculate the total number of fees your chosen fund will charge. Take note of any exit fees.

Investment strategy

Investment strategies can make a huge difference to your bank balance. If you are unsure of the best investment strategy for you, consider seeking professional financial advice.

Personal insurance

If you are keen to purchase term life insurance, trauma insurance, or even income protection insurance through your super fund, make sure the insurance policy on offer will provide adequate cover.

Another point to consider is whether the insurance premiums deducted from your super fund are eroding your savings.

Additional features or services

Each fund will offer a slightly different range of additional services. Selecting a fund with a larger range of options will provide greater flexibility and greater opportunity to grow your super.

How to maximise your Super savings

Figures show it makes dividends if you start thinking about your superannuation early on. Just taking a few simple measures may make the difference between living comfortably and living your retirement dreams. Here are 6 pointers to help you maximise your retirement nest egg.

  1. 1.      As money held within your superannuation is generally taxed at a more favourable rate, consider selling off your assets and putting the proceeds directly into your super.
  2. 2.      Did you know you can reduce your tax by making spouse contributions? As well as profiting directly, you will build your spouse’s super at a greater rate.
  3. 3.      If you have more than 1 super fund, take the steps to consolidate them. This not only saves you the headache of keeping track of your multiple funds, it also saves you unnecessary administration fees.
  4. 4.      Have you considered the Government co-contributions? Depending on your financial situation, you could convert every 1 dollar invested into super into as much as 2 dollars.
  5. 5.      By directing more of your pre-tax salary directly to your super, you will save on tax as well as bump up your retirement savings
  6. 6.       For those over 50 years of age, you have the option of allocating up to $50,000 a year to your super at a concessional rate.

Make the most of your opportunities to boost your retirement savings. Any combination of the above options will help you in your quest for an enjoyable retirement.

Selecting the right Superannuation fund matters

Not surprisingly, many Australians take little interest in their choice of superannuation fund. Most employees are happy for their employer to select their Super fund for them and pay little notice to the regular statements received in the mail. Unfortunately, thus scenario is far from ideal, as having the right super fund can make a big difference to your bank balance and subsequent enjoyment of life come, retirement time.

Many different Super funds exist in Australia, but they are not a ‘one size fits all’. They vary on many levels including life insurance options, investment types, ancillary features and pension types. They can also differ widely with respect to their level of customer service and client reporting. For this reason, it pays to seek advice when selecting your fund of choice to ensure one’s investment and wealth creation needs are met and retirement outcomes and maximised.

The following lists the type of Superannuation funds available:

1) Corporate Superannuation funds

These funds are especially created for a company under the umbrella of an existing retail or Industry Fund. As such, this form of fund is only available to current employees of that particular company and offer varying levels of investment choice. Depending on the size of the organisation, members may be offered discounts another benefit is that most employees would be automatically offered life insurance and possibly income protection without the need for a medical.  Provided the account is left open, employees can maintain this cover even if they leave the organisation. The downside however is that if a person decides to leave the organisation, they will lose their discount and will be moved into the personal or retail division of the superannuation fund.

2) Industry Super Funds

These funds are now open to anyone, so you no longer need to belong to a certain industry in order to be accepted.  Generally speaking, these funds are more limited in their offering compared to retail funds, but on the plus side offer simple, low cost method of investing.

3) Retail Superannuation Funds and ‘Wrap accounts’

These are public funds usually offered by banks and large financial institutions. On the plus side, retail funds usually offer a wider range of investments, insurance and ancillary features than corporate superannuation and industry superannuation.

Given the level of investment choice on offer, if you are keen to have more involvement in your super, then retail superannuation funds may be for you. Tailored insurance options can also make retail superannuation attractive.

 

 

4) Self-Managed Superannuation Funds - SMSF’s

If you want to have multiple investment options and total control over you retirement savings then a SMSF is for you as these funds are controlled by its members and is limited to a maximum of 4 members. With greater control however comes greater responsibility as all members are obligated follow a strict number of rules and regulations.  SMSF’s are also suitable for business owners wanting to utilise superannuation funds to purchase real business property.

Why Superannuation matters

 

Although many find it difficult to appreciate the value of Superannuation in their youth, it is an effective and valuable means of saving for your retirement. As the cost of living goes up, we can no longer rely on the age pension to comfortably support us during retirement.  In addition to providing for a comfortable retirement, super has many other advantages such as a long investment timeframe and the benefit of compound interest. Another major bonus is the attractive tax incentives on offer from the Government.

 

Here is an outline of the tax savings on offer:

1) Employer contributions and returns made on your super are taxed at a maximum of 15%. This compares very favourably with one’s marginal tax rate which could be as high as 45%.

2) Salary Sacrifice

3) Government Co-contributions for anyone earning less than $61,920 per annum.

4) Additional spouse contributions if your spouse earns less than $10,800 per year

5) Small business are eligible for small business capital gains tax.

6) Roll over one’s super into an allocated pension upon reaching retirement.

7) Lastly, Australians who work part time and are over 55 have the option of continuing to contribute the super, whilst simultaneously accessing their super funds in the form of a pre-retirement pension

 

Please note that limitations exist on the amount of non-concessional and concessional contributions made each year.

Self Managed Superannuation Funds

Self Managed Superannuation Funds or SMSFs are becoming an increasingly popular way to manage one’s super and prepare for a comfortable retirement. The main benefit of SMSFs is their flexibility as many forms of investment are allowable according to the Superannuation Industry Act of 1993.

But with a high level of flexibility and choice, comes a high level of responsibility. For this reason, SMSFs are not for everyone. Here is an outline of the points to keep in mind when considering starting off a SMSF.

Cost

The ATO recommends an individual requires at least $200,000 in superannuation assets in order to successfully run a SMSF. This is because the cost of setting up and successfully running a SMSF is approximately $2000 per year.

Resources – Time & Knowledge

SMSFs require a significant amount of time and knowledge to run successfully as even the smallest mistake could result in large investment losses. Whilst some may have the skills to successfully manage their SMSF in accordance with the governing laws, many will need to seek professional advice.

Liability

It’s important to be aware that as the members of a SMSF are also the trustees they are obligated to maintain the fund according to the relevant laws and regulations. If there is an issue with the way in which the fund has been managed they are answerable to the ATO.

Residency

SMSFs must be controlled from within Australia. If a trustee or main decision maker of the fund decides to leave the country for a period of longer than 2 years, the SMSF may become non-compliant. The consequence of becoming non-compliant is a tax rate of 46.5%!

Diversification

Another regulation to be aware of pertains to the level of investment diversification required. For this reason, SMSF investment strategies usually stipulate that sufficient diversification across a range of other assets is required. For example, SMSF’s that invest 100% of the assets in direct SMSF property may be breaching their investment strategy and subsequently may place the fund in a position of unnecessary risk.

Top Australian Super funds return to form

Australians are rejoicing thanks to a recent report by the financial services research company Super Ratings. This company found that Australian Superannuation funds were performing at their strongest in 5 years, thanks to a particularly strong September quarter.

The data released by Super Ratings showed that for the year to September 30th, the median balanced fund grew by 8.2%, whilst the best-performing funds surged by close to 10%. This proves that although many viewed superannuation funds as a risky investment since the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, Super funds will in fact outperform cash options over a 10-year period.

Thus, although many decided to pull their money from balanced super funds during the height of the GFC, the last 10 years saw the median super fund outperform the cash option by 9.2%. So although it’s fair to say funds are still operating in a difficult environment, sustained momentum will allow fund members to reacquaint themselves with the benefits superannuation will afford them during retirement.

Government to protect unclaimed Super accounts

The Government will adopt a new strategy to protect unclaimed superannuation accounts of less than $2000 from unnecessary administration fees and charges. In the past, accounts containing this sum of money were charged annual fees of close to $200 a year. This meant that such accounts would disappear if left unclaimed for more than 6 years. This new plan will be a huge bonus for those who lose track of their superannuation, in particular part-time and casual workers and those newly employed.

 

The plan is for the unclaimed money to be held by the Government. In addition to escaping fees, the unclaimed super will act to create additional revenue for the Government. What’s more, the Government will pay interest on the unclaimed accounts at the rate of inflation. Lastly, the Government’s initiative will further enhance retirement savings by reducing the Super fund’s administration costs and in turn improving the fund’s returns.

Planning for Retirement

The sooner you start planning for retirement the better, as it gives you more time to ensure you have the appropriate strategies in place to achieve your retirement goals and enjoy an enjoyable and fulfilling retirement.

Points to consider include the age at which you will retire, what sort of retirement and lifestyle you aspire towards, how much money you will need to retire comfortably, what type of retirement stream you will use as well as if you will continue to work in retirement.

When considering these points, it’s advisable to speak with family and friends as well as enlist the assistance of a financial adviser.

Data suggests that a couple who which to lean a modest lifestyle during retirement will require $31,263 per year compared with $54,562 per year for a more comfortable retirement.

When calculating your costs of retirement, it’s important to factor in much more than just the general, day to day living expenses. We encourage you to also consider increasing medical costs as you age, whether a nursing home or assisted living may be required as well as additional costs towards renting if you do not own your own home.

The age at which you choose to start your retirement and access your superannuation is partly decided for you and is referred to as the 'preservation age'.

Depending on the year you were born, the preservation age varies from 55 – 60 years of age.

It’s becoming increasingly common for Australians to work part of their retirement years as a means of ensuring they will have adequate funds to meet their retirement goals or just keep themselves busy. The Transition to Retirement strategy enables Australians over 55 to receive a regular income stream whilst at the same time boost their superannuation savings thanks to the favourable tax rates on offer.

Three main types of income streams exist namely; Allocated, Fixed Term and Lifetime. The stream selected will dictate how you can access your retirement savings.

Access of Super Savings

As Superannuation was designed to provide an income during retirement, many rules and regulations exist to ensure these savings are protected and not whittled down prematurely. The guidelines that enable Australians to access to their superannuation are termed superannuation ‘conditions of release.’

Not surprisingly retirement is the most common condition of release from superannuation. Retirement is in part calculated by an individual’s ‘preservation age’; namely the age at which one can access their retirement benefits. Depending on the year in which one was born, the ‘preservation age’ currently sits between 55 and 60 years of age, although taxation issues exists if someone decides to access their super before the age of 60. Those who are 65 years or older automatically meet this condition of release and can access their superannuation savings.

Less common, but still a considered a major superannuation condition of release is Total and Permanent Disablement.  This condition allows Australians to access their superannuation prior to retirement in the event of total and permanent disablement. This means the person in question needs to be incapacitated to the extent that they are ‘unlikely, because of ill health, to engage in gainful employment that they are reasonably qualified for by education, training or experience.’ One must gain certification from 2 independent doctors and the disability must be permanent. It’s important to note that claim payments received via this condition of release generally incur a taxation liability.

Hardship and compassionate grounds are yet another condition of release that enables limited access to superannuation savings, so that an individual’s retirement prospects are not drastically affected. This condition enables individuals who ‘cannot meet reasonable and immediate family living expenses’ to withdraw a single benefit between $1,000 and $10,000 within a 12 month period. If someone is not deemed to be in a position of financial hardship, they have the option of applying to the superannuation fund for release on the basis of compassionate grounds. In this scenario, the individual must a) not have the financial capacity to meet ongoing expenses, b) APRA has determined in writing that the release is permitted or c) the release is permitted within the rules of the superannuation fund.

Terminal illness is another scenario in which one may access their superannuation prior to preservation age. As for Total and Permanent Disablement, 2 independent doctors must certify that the medical condition is likely to result in death within 12 months. Benefits may be withdrawn as a lump sum and are generally paid tax free.

Lastly, an individual has the option of accessing their superannuation funds if the balance of the benefit is less than $200. This is often the case when individuals change jobs regularly and subsequently end up with multiple lost and unclaimed super accounts.  Although it can be tempting to withdraw these small sums of money, we recommend you consider rolling your multiple superannuation accounts into an active superannuation account.

How to contribute extra towards your Superannuation

The Government’s decision to make employer superannuation contributions compulsory, forced all working Australians to save for their retirement. However, those in the financial position to do so will benefit from making additional contributions towards their Superannuation. Multiple ways exists in which to make additional contributions and depending on one’s situation, additional contributions may be deductible.

One way in which to make additional contributions is to opt for salary sacrifice. In this scenario, an employee designates a portion of their salary to be ‘sacrificed’ for another benefit. Sacrificed funds are made ‘pre-tax’ and are taxed at 15% when received by the fund. This compares very favourable to the usual tax rate for those in the high income bracket who are taxed at close to 50%. Thus, salary sacrifice can be a very effective way to contribute additional funds towards one’s superannuation, as it lowers one’s taxable income by the value of the sacrificed funds.

One may also opt to use after tax dollars to make additional contributions. Such contributions are not taxed on entry to the super fund if the contributor is either under the age of 65 or under the age of 75 and working.

Those who decide to make after tax contributions to their superannuation in the 2013 financial year and earn less than $31,920 a year are eligible for the Government Co-Contribution. This government scheme matches dollar for dollar contributions up to $5000. Those who earn more than $31,920, but less than $46,920 will receive government co-contributions that are determined according to a sliding scale basis. The contributor must submit their tax return in order to receive the co-contribution.

The self-employed, have alternate means of making additional contributions. This group can make deductible contributions to superannuation up to the nominated concessional contributions cap.

It’s important to note that the government has imposed caps on the maximum amount that can be contributed. Breech of these caps can result in harsh tax consequences. Tax deductible/concessional contributions are capped at $25,000 per year and include mandatory employer contributions. After tax/ non-concessional contributions cannot exceed $450,000 over a 3 year period.

 

What is Superannuation and why do we need it?

Some would describe Superannuation as a mandatory form of savings for when we retire. Although many are led to believe the Age Pension performs this role, increasing numbers of retirees are find the pension is simply inadequate to provide for a comfortable retirement. The amount of money saved through the super scheme will depend on a numbers of factors including the percentage of one’s income contributed (9% minimum mandatory), additional contributions above and beyond the mandatory 9%, the time a superannuation accounts has been held as well as the interest rate earned by your super account and any fees associated with maintaining the fund.

In most cases, employees have the option of selecting their Super fund of choice. There are some circumstances however, when an employer may be forced to select a fund as they may already have a private fund set up or a result of industrial award.

Almost anyone who is paid for work is entitled to the Super Guarantee. Exceptions to this rule include people less than 18 years of age or over 70 year of age, individuals earning below $450 within a calendar month, Australians who are part of a non-complying fund and those who are paid to do domestic or private work for 30 hours or less per week.

Everyone with a Super fund has the option of making extra contributions from their after-tax wage and may receive tax benefits for doing so. Your employer can also make additional super contributions above the Super guarantee.

A number of different Superannuation funds exist, these include the following:

Industry funds such as Health or Retail funds. These are run by employer associations and/or unions solely for the benefit of members.

Public Sector Employees Funds specifically for government employees.

Corporate funds such as the HTR Company fund.

Self Managed Superannuation Funds are created by 5 or less individuals and are regulated by the Australian Tax Office.

Retail Master Trusts for individuals, e.g. The Small Superfund for Jane Jones.

A known benefit of Super funds is that they pay less tax than normal savings accounts, given someone is taxed at greater than 15% and tax benefits can apply to people accessing their super in retirement.

Most Super funds, provide insurance, including income protection, death and disability. The premiums are taken out of your super savings, so it is essential you have adequate savings to avoid eroding your savings and having insufficient funds to maintain your insurance policy.

A law exists for those with only a very small amount of money in their fund, amounting to less than $1000. In this scenario, fees may be reduced or dropped all together as the law states that fees may not exceed the interest earned by the account.

In general, very strict laws apply to the access of funds held within super accounts. A limited number of exceptions allow some individuals to access their savings prior to their retirement age/preservation age. These exceptions include severe financial hardship or compassionate grounds like medical treatment.

One’s preservation age, the age at which they can access their savings, depends on their date of birth and currently varies from 55 – 60 years of age.

Are you paying double for your insurance?

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority recently released a paper outlining the inequalities retail fund members, bound to an insurer faced in relation to insurance premiums. The paper found that on average, those who were bound to an insurer were on average paying an additional $159.42 per annum more than the benefits they received. This compares with only $41.61 per year more for those members of retail funds that aren't tied to their insurers. At the end of the day, this equates to an additional $12.8 million worth of fees for their superannuation savings.

Some members of the insurance and superannuation industry believe this reports makes an unfair comparison, given the individual structure unique to retail funds compared with other industry funds. Regardless of such sentiments, the report definitely provides food for thought and highlights the need for retail fund members to make informed decisions regarding their chosen package of benefits monetary and otherwise.

How to maximize superannuation savings

If you wish to maximize your superannuation savings, then take the time to refer to the guide below. Each of the tips are easily performed and can make a considerable difference to your total come retirement time.

1)     Ensure your superannuation fund has your Tax File Number (TFN). By doing so, you can take advantage of the co0contribution scheme and make non-concessional contributions and your employer’s superannuation contributions will be taxed at the reduced rate of 15% - A much better rate than 46.5%. Furthermore, if your Super fund has your TFN and you earn less than $37,000 per annum you will be eligible for the Super Tax  refund.

2)     Roll your multiple superannuation accounts into one to avoid paying multiple administration fees. Additionally, if your multiple super funds are each deducting insurance premiums, your savings are being further eaten away by unnecessary costs!

3)     Make sure your Super fund has your most current contact details. Without this, the government may take your super savings out of your fund and place it with the ATO.

4)     It pays to double check that your employer is making the compulsory super contributions and that the contributions sent to your super fund are correct.

5)     Calculate how much your superannuation fund is regularly deducting for life insurance premiums. Is it good value and is it adequate for your current needs?

6)     Review your current investment options. Are you happy with the mix of investments or would you prefer more conservative or aggressive options?

7)     It always pays to consider how much money you will actually need upon retirement. If it looks like you may fall short, the there are options you can consider today to help boost the final balance.

8)     Take the time to assess the value of your current super fund. Are the administrative fees fair and what are the returns like? If your fund falls short, then consider seeing what other funds are out there and how you can change your fund of choice.

9)     Lastly, consider who you would like nominate as the beneficiary of your super if you were to pass away. Do you wish for the money to go towards your dependents or towards your estate?

 

 

Improved Longevity: Raise the Super Guarantee to 15%

With an improvement in living conditions and medical interventions, Australians are living longer. This means that for many, the money they saved for retirement may fall short of needs. As means of overcoming this problem, the former Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating recommended increasing the superannuation guarantee from 9% to 15% of salary by 2020.

Keating went on to state that current retirement savings would provide a comfortable retirement for those aged 60-80, but it would be inadequate to provide for aged between 80 and 100.He also stated that the funds accrued through the increase in the compulsory guarantee should be paid into a government “longevity insurance fund” which would aid the funding of retirees aged over 80.

Additional recommendations outlined by Keating included increasing the cap on super contributions for those aged over 50 from $25,000 to $100,000 as a means of encouraging increased retirement savings.

When discussing Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF), Keating recommended savers have a minimum of $600,000 worth of superannuation savings before setting up their own SMSF and that SMSFs should be required to select a nominal amount of relatively stable assets such as government bonds or higher-rated corporate bonds to avoid financial disaster when approaching retirement age.

Self Managed Superannuation Funds & Trauma Insurance

Unlike other forms of personal insurance including Life Insurance and Total Permanent Disability Insurance, Trauma Insurance is not a common component of Self Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF). However, given the rise in popularity for Trauma Insurance, also referred to as critical illness insurance, it is becoming increasingly more common.

Initially, there was some hesitation on behalf of the ATO when deciding if Trauma Insurance could indeed be part of a SMSF. After much deliberation the ATO declared that a SMSF can hold a trauma policy provided the SMSF is held by a trustee and paid for by the SMSF. An additional clause as set out by the ATO stated that the policy must cover a member of the fund and any claims made must be paid to the SMSF until the member meets the conditions of release.

The decision to hold Trauma Insurance within a SMSF is not straight forward, as depending on the scenario at hand, it can be detrimental or beneficial. The following examples describe situations where it is appropriate to hold Trauma Insurance in a SMSF:

1)      If a self-employed member of a SMSF was unable to work due to a critical illness and their business went under (i.e. bankruptcy), then the payout from the Trauma Insurance claim could boost the balance of the member’s superannuation and enable them to live a comfortable retirement.

2)      Although Trauma Insurance is not usually tax deductible, premiums can be paid by tax deductible contributions for the self employed and pre-tax contributions for employees.

3)      A potential strategy to adopt for those with a SMSF is to ‘insure future contributions’ by taking a trauma insurance policy out to pay in the event of a critical illness to boost the ‘contribution’ above the contribution cap as claim payouts do not count towards contributions caps and in this way own additional funds on early retirement.

Trauma insurance would be inappropriate in the following scenarios:

1)      A “Condition of Release” must be met before a trauma insurance claim will be paid from a SMSF. As these conditions are very strict, many individuals find they do not meet the conditions and subsequently are unable to receive their payout.  The resulting financial distress may ultimately defeat the purpose of coverage.

2)      Trauma Insurance premiums are not tax deductible to the SMSF. Furthermore, claims payments incur a taxation liability, similar to TPD insurance claims in superannuation. This “double whammy” can ultimately make trauma insurance in the setting of a SMSF unattractive.

3)      Saving for retirement may not actually occur if insurance premiums comprise a major portion of the contributions being made to the fund. Thus, questions arise relating to whether Trauma Insurance held in a SMSF is in fact for the purpose of improving a member’s cash flow. If the answer is no, then it may be in breach of the ATO’s third requirement as an improvement to cash flow.

Given the complexity involved in the decision making process, we recommend seeking professional advice to help you determine if Trauma Insurance would make a valuable addition to your SMSF.

ASIC warns against false advertising in the world of Superannuation

A recent warning was made by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) relating to the over-inflated benefits advertised by a number of large Superannuation funds and the overzealous and costly actions of some Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF) auditors.

ASIC reported they found the quality and reliability of investment research conducted on behalf of Super funds was highly questionable as a result of the conflict of interest. A good example of this was the overinflated rating of Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDO) created by large investment banks. They were touted as being a good investment, but turned out to be worthless.

ASIC went on to say that the pressure experienced by Super funds forced them into making false advertising claims which provided inadequate disclosure of warnings, failed to outline member costs, didn’t fully explain the risks associated with certain investment strategies and in general provided misleading information.

With respect to the SMSF auditors, their one size fits all approach led them to conduct tests that were unnecessary and costly to the consumer. For this reason, ASIC has also issued warning pertaining to the unscrupulous dealings of such auditors.

Amp Super Funds.

AMP Superannuation Funds have been working with Australians for more than 160 years, to help them manage their wealth via a number of corporate and retail Super products. AMP is there both employers and employees alike. Their simple application process is easy to navigate and can be completed in the comfort of your own home either online or over the phone.

AMP Super funds have a number of savings products that will assist you in achieving your retirement goals. These include:

  • AMP Flexible Super
  • AMP Flexible Lifetime® Super (no new applications accepted)
  • AMP SignatureSuper®
  • AMP SuperLeader®
  • AMP CustomSuper®
  • AMP Retirement Savings Account

Another benefit of AMP Superannuation is their straightforward investment options and their new online service known as My Portfolio. It enables easy online transacting and the ability to update your details, read important correspondence and view your statements.

Although this does not impact of existing AMP customers, a number of AMP’s Super funds are now closed to new investors, these are:

  • AMPAK Investment Plan
  • AMPAK Personal Superannuation Plan
  • Capital Secure Deferred Annuity
  • Childrens Investment Linked Insurance Bond
  • Childrens Investment Linked Plan
  • Childrens Investment Linked Plan
  • Childrens Portfolio Plan
  • Conventional – Childrens Endowment
  • Conventional - Endowment
  • Conventional - Whole of Life
  • Flexible Lifetime super
  • IL MultiFund Trustee Bond
  • Investment Account Deferred Annuity
  • Investment Account Insurance Bond
  • Investment Account Superannuation Bond
  • Investment Linked Bond
  • Investment Linked Deferred Annuity
  • Investment Linked Insurance Bond
  • Investment Linked Personal Superannuation Plan
  • Investment Linked Plan
  • Investment Linked Superannuation Plan
  • MultiFund Rollover Deferred Annuity
  • MultiFund Super Bond
  • Personal Achiever
  • Personal Investment Plan
  • Personal Superannuation Plan
  • Portfolio Plan
  • Protected Growth Deferred Annuity
  • Super Rollover Plan Investment Linked Deferred Annuity
  • Super Rollover Plan Personal Superannuation Bond
Who is IOOF Superannuation?

IOOF entered the Australian financial services market over 160 years ago.  Since then, they have been working with Australians to help manage their superannuation and retirement. Given their long standing presence in the world of Superannuation and wealth accumulation, it should come as no surprise to learn they have over $94.6 billion in funds under management, administration, advice and supervision. IOOF enables employers, clients and advisers to manage a varied range of investments such as direct shares and managed funds.

The financial serviced on offer by the IOOF Group includes:

  • Skilled investment management solutions for both from managed funds to superannuation.
  • Superior administration service for personal investments, superannuation savings and retirement income solutions.

IOOF has become a publicly listed company and has accumulated a number of very well-known brands such as, Perennial Investment Partners Limited, Australian Executor Trustees, Bridges Financial Services, Pursiot, Spectrum Super, Ord Minnett, as well as Australian Skandia.

IOOF offers its customers a number of Super fund platforms to select from. These are:

  • IOOF Pursuit Select – Suitable for those looking for greater flexibility, it offers a wide variety of investment options.
  • IOOF Portfolio Service – Provides an expansive selection of managed investment options via the IOOF online portfolio management tool
  • IOOF Pursuit Core Suitable for investors with less complicated needs, this platform has a smaller investment menu.

As a result of their long standing success and popularity, a number of IOOF Super products are now closed to new customers. These are:

  • LifeTrack (however the existing LifeTrack Corporate and Employer Superannuation products continue to allow new employees to become members)
  • Financial Partnership Portfolio Service (Allocated Pension, Employer Superannuation, Investments, Personal Superannuation)
  • SMF ERF – Select Managed Funds Eligible Rollover Fun
Soon We Can Find Even More of your lost super

From January 1st 2013, new rules make our superannuation accounts be marked as ‘inactive’ years earlier than before. This means there will be even more chance we will be able to track down your lost superFrom January 1st 2013, new rules make our superannuation accounts be marked as ‘inactive’ years earlier than before. This means there will be even more chance we will be able to track down your lost super. Currently super funds don’t have to mark your account as inactive unless there have been no contributions for 5 years and the balance is less than $200. Starting next year your super will be marked as inactive if there have been no contributions for 1 year (no longer 5) and providing the balance is less than $2,000 (no longer $200).
Remember lost super marked as inactive will be just sitting there lost and earning a fluctuating income of approx 2.5%p.a. Even worse lost super not marked as inactive may de dwindling down towards nothing with no contributions coming in and fees from the super fund that is supposed to be managing your money eating away at it year after year.
So…if you think you might have some lost super. Get searching. Make it your new year’s resolution. There’s even more chance we can track down your hard earned money.
. Currently super funds don’t have to mark your account as inactive unless there have been no contributions for 5 years and the balance is less than $200. Starting next year your super will be marked as inactive if there have been no contributions for 1 year (no longer 5) and providing the balance is less than $2,000 (no longer $200).
Remember lost super marked as inactive will be just sitting there lost and earning a fluctuating income of approx 2.5%p.a. Even worse lost super not marked as inactive may de dwindling down towards nothing with no contributions coming in and fees from the super fund that is supposed to be managing your money eating away at it year after year.
So…if you think you might have some lost super. Get searching. Make it your new year’s resolution. There’s even more chance we can track down your hard earned money.

ASGARD Superannuation

ASGARD was created over 25 years ago to administer investment, superannuation and retirement savings for Australians nationwide. ASGARD is owned by St George Bank, a member of the Westpac Banking Corporation. As a result of its 25 year operation, ASGARD now helps over 400,000 Australians with in excess of $37 billion in funds under management.
ASGARD may be classes as an award winning super fund. Over the years, it has won many prestigious awards including the ChantWest 2009 Apples Award, Heron Partnerships 2009/2010 5 Star Quality Rating for outstanding performance and SuperRating Gold Award 2009.
ASGARD Superannuation Products include:
• ASGARD Elements - This product is best suited to those with a financial planner who can oversee their investments. It offers an easier way to invest with a more concentrated, quality-focused investment menu.
• ASGARD eWRAP – This product is better suited to those who which to adopt a more active role in their investments. It offers a range of different managed funds and shares with access to cash, more than 400 managed investments and a wide range of ASX listed securities.

Colonial First State Superannuation

Colonial First State Superannuation Funds (CFS) first entered the Superannuation market in 1988, yet in spite of its relative youth, it may be regarded as one of Australia’s leading wealth management groups with in excess of $90 billion under management around the world. Part of the Commonwealth Bank Group, CFS offers many superannuation and investment products.
With the primary objective to provide quality products at a competitive price, CFS makes it easy for consumers to track their investments via the phone, internet, in person or mail and takes the necessary measures to ensure clients are aware of the fees to avoid surprise. Furthermore, CFS clients receive consolidated reports twice a year which provide a complete picture of all investments and transactions.
Colonial First State Superannuation Funds on offer include:
• FirstChoice Personal Super
• FirstWrap & FirstWrap Plus
• First Choice Employer Super
FirstChoice offers in excess of 105 investment options. It also offers a range of managers and asset classes through their professionally constructed multi-manager portfolios. The result is an investment menu that offers genuine choice, value and service.
• FirstChoice Multi-Manager Options
- Multi-sector: 7 portfolios that invest in a range of asset classes
- Single-sector: 12 portfolios which predominantly invest in one asset class
• FirstChoice Multi-Index Series Options
- Multi-sector: 2 index portfolios which invest in a range of asset classes
FirstWrap is aimed at investors with more sophisticated needs. It offers a comprehensive range of investments, all managed through the one account. Investment options available through FirstWrap include:
• Term deposits (a range of terms available)Unlisted property
• Over 250 managed funds
• Hedge funds and private equity funds
• All ASX listed company issued options (ASX 300 only for super and pension)
• Panel of brokers
• All ASX-listed shares (ASX 300 only for super and pension)
• Access to floats, placements and other corporate actions
• Margin lending facility

BT Superannuation

BT Super funds have been aiding Australians with their Superannuation, Insurance and Investment strategies for over 43 years. BT superannuation funds operate under the financial planning sector of Westpac Banking Corporation and currently have over $90 billion in total investments. This makes it Australia’s largest administrator of superannuation, investments and retirement.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the BT financial group has approximately 550,000 plan members and currently manages corporate superannuation plans for over 23,000 employers across Australia.
BT super has a range of products on offer to assist Australians in savings for their retirement. These include:
• BT Lifetime Personal Super
• BT SolarWrap
• BT Asset Choice
• BT Asset Link
• BT SuperWrap
• BT SuperWrap Essentials
Employers who offer a default BT superannuation fund generally offer the following 2 plans:
• BT Lifetime Super Employer Plan
• BT Business Super
Two Super products of particular interest are:
• BT SuperWrap
• BT SuperWrap Essentials
Both products provides 24/7 online access to a wide range of sector specific managed, diversified managed and sector specific direct investment strategies to select from. Whilst BT Super Wrap Essentials provides access to over 70 managed funds, BT SuperWrap provides access to over 600 managed funds.
The BT Super Wrap Investment Options on offer include:
• Diversified managed investment strategies ranging from low risk/conservative options to moderate - high risk/growth options.
• Sector specific managed investment strategies which incorporate
o Australian shares
o International shares
o Property securities
o Direct property
o Australasian fixed interest
o International fixed interest
o Hedge Funds
o Cash and Cash Plus
And
Sector specific Australian shares which may include listed trusts, debt securities and Australian shares.

How’s Your Super Performing?

Despite underperforming for the past 5 years, it wasn’t until the Global Financial Crisis hit that the majority of Australians became acutely aware of their monetary losses from their Super funds. On a more positive note, recent data suggests Super funds have regained their form, with many now performing at their pre Global Financial Crisis levels. In fact, research shows that since 2009, the median balanced funds have grown as much as 35%.
Whilst many Super funds have shown a marked improvement, not all Super funds perform equally. For this reason, it pays to keep an eye on your Super and regularly check their investment options. As Superannuation should be viewed as a long term savings strategy, we encourage seeking the advice of a financial planner to ensure your retirement goals are met. Advisers can help monitor your fund and the market to ensure your savings are maximized

The future looks bright for Superannuation

According to the research group DEXX&R; Australia’s Superannuation funds will experience an average growth of 9.1% over the next 10 years. As such, the Australian Superannuation pool is expected to grow from its current level of $1350 billion to $3234 billion by half way through 2022.
This forecasted growth is in part based on the known fact that the superannuation guarantee will rise over the next 10-year period to as much as 12% by 2020, but also on the strong belief that superannuation investments will continue to show steady growth

Australia takes note of the benefits of consolidation

Following a strong push from Australian Super Funds and their members to commence consolidating their Superannuation accounts, the latest figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority show a reduction in the number of member accounts from 32.1 million in June 2010 to 30.5 million in June 2011.
At last, Australians have taken note of the benefits of consolidating their multiple Super accounts. These benefits include reduced paperwork and reduced administration fees, as each Super account has its own set of administration fees.
According to the research, the retail funds experienced the greatest reduction in member numbers, falling by 1.73 million, while the numbers for the public sector funds grew by 242,000. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) continued to see a rise in the number of Self Managed Super Funds.
ERFs also known as Eligible Rollover Funds hold Super accounts of members who cannot be contacted. As of 2013, ERFs are required to transfer any Super account worth up to $2000 to the ATO. The ATO will take on the responsibility of locating and contacting the individuals so that they may be reuniting with their lost funds. This essentially means that Super accounts with small balances won’t be eroded by fees. Instead, their balances will have the opportunity to increase in-line with the rate of inflation.

Changes to Australia’s Superannuation will impact all

Probably the largest of all the changes made to Australian Superannuation is the increase in the Superannuation Guarantee (SG), instead of remaining at 9%, it will increase in small increments to 9.25% from July 1st 2013 and then as high as 12% by 2019-2020.

With a steady increase in the SG, account holders must determine if their usual superannuation contributions will exceed the $25,000 cap. If it does, they will be slugged with unfavourable tax penalty.

Another major change to Australian Superannuation is the removal of the super guarantee age restriction by July 2013. This means employees aged 70 years or greater will be eligible to receive the SG for the first time.

As of July 1st 2013, all Super funds will be required to offer MySuper products. MySuper is designed as an easy to use, low-cost super product that will replace existing default funds. It will be ideal for those who are have little interest in following their super and will make comparison of super funds much easier

Superannuation accounts showing healthy growth

Thanks to improvements in the economy and the share-market, Australian Superannuation funds are showing signs of good growth.  In fact, independent superannuation research and consultancy firm Chant West found the average investor, in an average, balanced growth fund would have received annual returns of about 6.3% over the last 10 year period. Analysis also indicated the industry funds generated 5.1% growth, corporate funds 4.8% and retail funds 3.4% on a yearly basis.

The greatest performers were the staff superannuation funds at Goldman Sachs which generated annual return of 9.%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia 7.8% and Worsley Aluminia 7.5%.

Baby Boomers Unprepared for Retirement

Alarming figures recently released by REST Industry Super showed that as much as 86% of baby boomers feel financially unprepared for retirement and only 1 in 7 actually believe their savings will provide for a comfortable retirement. Research further indicated that a large proportion of baby boomers were uncertain of the costs associated with retirement, thereby making planning for retirement a difficult task. This is further backed up by the fact that 70% of baby boomers never sought financial advice when planning for their retirement.

The latest prediction by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia estimated the cost of retirement per couple per year was as much as $56,236. This figure is slightly less for singles coming in at $41,090 per year.

Given the uncertainty expressed by many individuals, it’s advisable to seek professional advice. Take the time to seek the expert advice of a financial adviser or contact your Super fund.

Consolidating one’s multiple Super funds

Consolidating one’s multiple Super funds into the 1 account has many advantages; these include less paperwork, less headaches and less administration fess. Sounds like a win, win situation doesn’t it? Well there can be a downside they may result in the loss of insurance benefits or worse still, leave you in the position where you are unable to reinsure yourself.

How does this happen you ask? Well, in more cases than not, fund members are completely unaware that their current superannuation cover includes insurance. The minority of fund members who choose to consolidate their funds and are aware of their insurance cover generally opt to move their super according to fund performance, rather than insurance cover.

The additional problem is that when a fund member realises they are no longer insured and seek to regain insurance cover, their medical situation may have changed and they will be forced to fork out higher premiums as a consequence of their ‘newly’ acquired penalties.

 

So when you take the generally very positive move to consolidate your multiple super funds, it’s important you determine if insurance cover is incorporated into your current super and ask what will happen to that cover once your funds have been consolidated.

Youth more concerned about Facebook than Superannuation.

A recent reports commissioned by AustralianSuper showed that while 43% of Australians are unsure of their Super balance, close to 50% know exactly how many friends they have on Facebook. This problem is even greater for those aged between 18 to 24 years of age, with only 36% in the know when it came to their Super balance and up to 63% in the know with regards to the number of Facebook friends they had.

 

With the ongoing push to simplify Superannuation and provide all Australians with the ability to choose their fund and savings options, it’s concerning to hear so many Australians, particularly those of Gen Y have very little knowledge or interest in their Super savings.

 

It’s important Australians are aware of the importance of Super and that even a small amount of Super can in the long run, make a substantial difference. If nothing else, it’s critical to have just the 1 Super account, to avoid wasting money on numerous and unnecessary administration fees. Keep in mind that these days, the large majority of super funds offer a range of services that aim to simplify Super, these include online tools and advisors. So take the time, to consider your future and Superannuation

Super and the 2013 Election

There’s been much debate between Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition party and Prime Minister Julia Gillard over plans to change Australia’s Superannuation scheme.

 

Each party is being placed under pressure to provide a public announcement stating their proposed changes to the Australian retirement savings scheme. According to Ms Gillard, Abbott’s claims that there will be no adverse and unexpected changes is a "fudge", due to the coalition’s plans to do away with the mining tax which in fact  funds a tax break on superannuation for 3.6 million people earning under $36,000 a year.

 

Superannuation Minister Bill Shorten is adamant that Labour’s Super scheme is “better than the coalition's alternative."  Ms Gillard went on to assure parliament that Labour would "never remove tax-free superannuation payments for the over-60s", including lump sums and pensions.

 

Although Abbott has been quoted as saying that “we've got to get taxes down, not up," the leak of a draft discussion paper titled Developing Northern Australia - a 2030 Vision came under much scrutiny as the paper highlights the room for additional taxes to support the development of the "tremendous potential" in northern Queensland, the NT and Western Australia.

 

The election campaign is still in its early days, the issue of Australian Superannuation is bound to resurface and create ongoing debate …..

Australia’s Super concessions found to be not so generous

Recent studies conducted by Mercer have indicated that Australia’s superannuation system is not as generous as those in other countries.

 

The typical British worker’s net retirement benefit has an average of 16.4 per cent or $43,534, higher  than their Australian counterpart.

 

The study compares the top eight countries who are deemed to have the best pension system in place against Australia.

 

Out of the 9 countries in comparison, Australia is the only country which charges a 15 per cent tax rate on employer contributions and the only country that does not offer employee tax deductible contributions.

 

Alongside Denmark and Sweden, Australia also has a obligatory tax rate on investment income.

 

According to Mercer this has a direct impact on the final benefit received by retirees, and in many cases increases the likelihood of people receiving an age pension.

Financial Planning Association (FPA) encourages the government to make changes to this year’s budget

In a recent submission regarding the Federal Budget, the Financial Planning Association (FPA) said the Government needed to consider a longer-term outlook that went beyond the current election campaign and expressed their concern in relation to the potential changes to the superannuation system in the 2013 budget.

 

As a means to increase the cap, the FPA  encouraged the Government to consider a flexible and realistic way to deal with surplus concessional contributions. For all Australian’s over the age of 50, the FPA is urging the cap on superannuation contributions to be increased to $50,000 from the existing $25,000 cap.

 

The issues relating to Australian’s developing a saving culture and improving the transition into retirement were addressed by the FPA in the recommendations.

 

The recommendations also discussed the necessity for Australian’s in need of assistance to be able to gain better access to financial advice.

 

The FPA strongly urges that changes to the budget are designed in a way to support Australian’s gain control of the superannuation and retirement.

Australian Super falls behind other developed nations.

When compared with the retirement schemes set up by other major developed nations, Australia’s Superannuation scheme doesn’t come up to scratch. A recent report by Mercer consulting found that the outcome for Australian retirees was worse off than the Canadian, British, Dutch, Swiss and US. In fact when compared with the net retirement benefits of an average Canadian worker, Australian retirees are close to 20% worse off.

Compared with 9 other nations surveyed in the report, Australia is the only country not to offer employee tax deductible contributions and charges a tax rates on employer contributions, at 15%.  Given Australia heads to the polls in September of this year, it will be interesting to see how the opposing Governments plan to improve the Superannuation scheme.

Superannuation savings, do Australian’s understand the risks

 

A recent survey conducted found that out of 800 participants aged between 18-64 years old, 50% of the participants were still selecting ‘low risk’ investment options for their superannuation funds.

 

By selecting low risk investment options many young people may not be earning much more than the current inflation rate and could actually end up $170,000 shorter at retirement than an a superannuation fund with an investment option labelled ‘medium to high risk’

 

Younger participants surveyed were unsure what it means to be in a ‘low risk’ fund and only one quarter of the participants were able to identify volatility and inflation as risks within superannuation savings.

 

When selecting your investment strategy you must consider how soon you will anticipate retiring as this will impact the best strategy for your current super savings needs. James Coyle, General Manager of Australian Super said that someone who is around 55 years old and is not likely to have their super invested in their retirement may be suited to a low volatility options as per a person of 25 years old is likely to have another 40 years of saving and choosing the low volatility option may be detrimental to their retirement.

A third of your superannuation savings can go towards fees if you do not select your fund carefully

The average Australian is expected to lose one third of their superannuation savings to fees over their working life.

 

Research shows that we are paying an average of $2000 per year in fees. This highlights the need for Australian’s to gain control of their superannuation and consolidate multiple funds where possible to avoid paying multiple sets of fees.

 

The fees can eat up to one third of your superannuation savings leaving you short when it comes to retirement. By taking control of your superannuation and ensuring that you are with a fund that has low fees you can reduce the amount to one fifth of your savings over your working life.

 

It is unfortunate that a large number of Australians do not pay enough attention to their superannuation fund and therefore are paying unnecessarily large fees. The fee structure of the majority of funds will see the fees get higher and higher the older you get. A person under the  age of 35 can expect to pay an average $445 of fees per year however that number jumps substantially the older you are. A person who is between 60 and 65 years of age can expect to pay $3682 in fees per year.

 

It is urged for all Australia’s to actively get to know their superannuation fund to ensure that their fees and investment options are right for them.

ATO will soon claim lost superannuation up to $2000

In a recent announcement the ATO have advised that from 31st May 2013 they will be taking over inactive and untouched super funds with balances of up to $2000, this is an increase from the $200 threshold which the ATO previously worked off.

 

There are 2.8 million unclaimed super funds and 3.4 million lost super funds with a staggering $887 million of lost money.

 

People who have changed their job, address or name may have lost superannuation as for people who are eligible to withdraw their superannuation and their fund is unable to get in contact with them may have unclaimed super.

 

By the ATO claiming your lost or unclaimed super you will lose all insurance policies written into the super fund.

 

The process to find and consolidate your lost and inactive super funds is an easy one and should be acted upon to avoid losing money towards your retirement.

$1m in Superannuation may not be enough for retirement

With Election Day looming, Superannuation is once again on the political agenda. Rumour has it that Gillard is planning to change the structure of Superannuation tax concessions particularly for the high income earners.

The director of Chan & Naylor, one of Australia’s leading accounting and financial planning firms, claims older Australians with more than $1 million in retirement savings are under the greatest threat. He goes on to state that unfairly, those most successful in setting aside their own monies for independent retirement are at greatest risk of being hit with harsher tax penalties.

Once considered a more than comfortable sum to retire on, $1 million may no longer be adequate given the ongoing rise in medical and aged care costs. Chan & Naylor believe that $2.5 million in retirement savings will be required in 30 years’ time.

With this in mind, it’s even more surprising to hear of the government’s plans to penalise the high income earners and successful savers.

How much money is enough to retire

 


Often the hardest question people ask about their retirement is how much money is enough for them to retire? This is undoubtedly a very significant part of thinking about your future and your retirement and the amount you need will be dependent on a number of factors. You are never too young to start planning for your future and the younger you start the more comfortable your retirement will be.

 

When considering your future and your retirement you must consider what type of lifestyle you would like to lead and your goals for your retirement. Would you like to purchase a caravan and travel the country, perhaps move closer to the sea or even travel the world. Each of the retirement goals will adversely affect the funding that you will need to retire.

 

AFSA Retirement Standard have created a table that is to be used to get a brief idea of your expenses during retirement. This will show that depending on what type of lifestyle you will be leading can fluctuate your yearly expenses from approximately $32,000 per year to $55,000 per year. This table will take into consideration the cost of living now and is updated on a quarterly basis.

 

It is important to have defined goals for your retirement and remember the sooner you start preparing for your retirement the more comfortable you will be, although it is never too late to start.

Australians show poor product knowledge of Superannuation


Although it’s only a matter of months until the Government launch’s it’s revolutionary, cost effective superannuation scheme MySuper, only 1 in every 6 Australians are familiar with the term MySuper.

From July 1st, it will be compulsory for all Super funds in Australia to offer the MySuper products in an attempt to simplify Superannuation plans and thereby engage greater public awareness and interest in Australia’s retirement scheme

Mum’s staying at home to look after the kids could lose up to $290,000 in Superannuation


 

A recent focus on superannuation has highlighted that women who take time off from the workforce to have their children and thereafter stay at home to take care of them are substantially missing out on Superannuation.

 

A woman who is earning an average salary of $50,000 a year from the age 21 will be likely to miss out on $34,000 for each year that they spend at home and out of the work force. This totals to $95,000 over a three year period.

 

Over a decade at home with the kids, mothers are looking at missing out on $290,000 worth of superannuation. These figures are concerning and there is a belief that women are not being educated in this aspect of taking care of money.

 

Statics show that half of women with children under the age of two are not in the workforce and effectively are not earning superannuation. Most women understand that taking the time off work they will lose out however it is a shock to most on the extent to which they lose superannuation.

Australian’s becoming more aware of their superannuation


 

There has been an increase in the number of people that are becoming more aware of the amount of money they will need in their superannuation to be enable them to have a comfortable retirement.

 

A recent report conducted by Club Plus Super shows that two thirds of Australian’s see superannuation as a safe place to investment their savings for retirement however only one third of Australian’s are being active in making additional super contributions to their fund.

 

A startling 83 per cent of Australian’s are facing the reality that they will continue to have to work past the retirement age.

 

There is still a vast gap between the number of Australian’s who are aware of what they need to do to have a comfortable retirement and the number of Australian’s who are being active in ensuring they have a comfortable retirement.

Do all retires plan to leave an inheritance behind?

 


 

Due to a recent study it has been found that most retirees do not plan on leaving their children an inheritance. This is coming down to the change in retirement expenses and the cost of living longer. In the past it was commonly known that retires would put their children’s inheritance ahead of their own retirement living expenses and experiences.

 

It was found that only 15 per cent  of retires were under the belief that it was important to leave behind an estate.

 

Retirees are also finding that the average life expectancy at the age of 65 is 25 years for women and 22 years from men. This is up from the 20 years that commonly expected.

 

Only 3 per cent of retirees view the age pension as a financial fall back.

Self Managed Super – Is it as safe as you think


 

Self managed super funds, otherwise commonly known as SMSFs are booming in popularity. However there is a significant risk factor involved when managing your super yourself. Retail and Industry super funds of Australia are regulated by APRA as a SMSF is not. This leaves you exposed to the risk of fraud which is minimised when you have your superannuation within an retail or Industry fund. Whilst the potential to make a higher gain by having less fees and ongoing costs is an attractive point of SMSF’s you must realise that you own your profits as you will own your losses.

Who is Macquarie Insurance?


The Macquarie Group was created in 1969. It is made up of 5 operating groups and 2 divisions within which individual businesses operate. With over 70 offices in more than 28 countries, Macquarie provides financial, advisory, banking and investment services worldwide. It acts on behalf of institutional, corporate and retail clients and counterparties.

Macquarie Life was created in 1990 and belongs to the Macquarie Group's Banking and Financial Services arm. Macquarie Life has an excellent reputation in the world of personal insurance and created the world renowned product Futurewise in response to Macquarie’s unique understanding and expertise.

Teen super balances dampened by life insurance

 


 

When a teen has started their first job they are prompted to set up a superannuation fund. If they are not carefully they can be entering into a life insurance policy which they are unaware of. This is due to the majority of super funds providing the employee with a minimum level of life insurance coverage unless the employee ticks the box on the application to establish the fund without insurance coverage. This could see the teens superannuation contributions being eaten up by insurance premiums which they do not require.

 

The cost of life insurance cover can vary largely depending on the insurance fund. If you are under 25 years of age, you could expect to pay between $1 to $1.50 per week for a life insurance policy with a benefit of $50,000 to $100,000 for death and disability cover. It is often unnecessary for young employees to have life insurance cover if they do not have financial commitments or dependants.

 

For those who do require life insurance it is often more expensive and medically underwritten meaning you may have to undergo a medical in order to be granted the coverage. Larger insurers may offer policies which are not medically underwritten and will be accepted automatically. It is important to consider the terms and conditions of the policy prior to taking it out to ensure that when it comes time to claim on your policy you are granted the benefit.

Who Is Tal?


TAL insurance was formerly known as Tower Insurance Australia. It underwent a name change back in June 2011, following a demerger between Tower Australia and Tower New Zealand. TAL is a wholly owned subsidiary of one of Japan’s major life insurance companies Dai-Ichi Mutual Life Insurance. As one would expect, TAL offers a range of personal insurance products and services including life insurance, income protection insurance, TPD insurance and critical illness insurance.

TAL’s Life Insurance policies offer a broad range of benefits including:

  • Death & Terminal Illness cover
  • Repatriation
  • Inflation protection & Premium Freeze
  • Guaranteed future insurability

Additional features can be obtained by reading the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

TAL’s Income Protection Insurance policies offer a combination of standard and optional benefits including:

  • Total & Partial disability
  • Death
  • Inflation protection
  • Concurrent & Recurrent disability
  • Waiver of premium
  • Elective surgery & Extended care
  • Bed confinement
  • Family support
  • Housekeeper, scheduled injury and blood borne benefits

Further benefits can be acquired at an additional cost.

Who Is AIA Insurance?


AIA has provided personal insurance products to Australians for over 30 years. With a highly extensive network of over a quarter of a million agents across 15 geographical markets, AIA protects the financial well-being of Australians, by offering a range of services and products including Income Protection and Life Insurance as well as retirement planning, wealth management services and accident and health insurance.

AIA offices can be found not only in Australia, but also Brunei, Hong Kong, India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Macau, the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam.

The Risks of Market Timing in Superannuation


 

Market timing can be a potential trap for investors and is especially fundamental for those preparing for retirement. As many recent retirees have found out, the timing of the Global Financial Crisis was shocking and resulted in many wiping out their life savings and superannuation.

 

The order of investment returns can significantly impact how much we have at retirement. As an example if you are to have 25 per cent loss in the market over the past five years, it would be equivalent to approximately one and a half of your contributions to your super savings throughout your working life.

 

There are a number of current super funds who are taking notice of this loss and are looking at ways to rectify this. Some are changing up the mix of assets for the older members who are in the default investment option within their fund.

 

It is being urged for everyone to keep a close eye on their super and investment options as retirement approaches. You must make your own decision based on your tolerance to risk and what return you are looking for.

More Aussies to lose out on superannuation


 

High income earners expected to be hit with an increase in taxes on superannuation. The government is looking to target the top 1 – 2 per cent of Australia’s richest with uneven tax concessions.

 

Mr Bill Shorten, the Superannuation Minister has tried to alleviate concerns and has denied the superannuation reforms are due to a need to save money in the budget.

 

Ed Husic has expressed his desire to promote and not hinder the ability of people to put money into their superannuation.

 

The coalition government has stated that they cannot stipulate whether or not they could pledge to roll back changes made to the super tax rates. They will fight against the changes the government appear to have in mind however cannot make a promise to undo all of the damage which has been caused. They have said the government was raiding people’s savings to fund its spending.

Changes to Superannuation in 2013

A range of superannuation changes have been announced by the federal government. These changes may have an impact on Australian’s saving for retirement and those still in the work force.

The deductible contributions cap has been increased. At present the deductible contributions cap Is $25,000 per annum. This will be increased to $35,000 per annum. The change is to take effect from the 1 July 2013 for people 60 years of age and older and will take effect from 1 July 2013 for people 50 years of age and over.

Contributions made from 1 July 2013 that exceed the concessional cap can be withdrawn. The withdrawal will be taxed at the marginal income tax rate.

Pension earning over $100,000 will now be taxed at 15%. Whilst this Is still considerably less than income based earning it is a vast change from the current pensions which are tax-free.

 

Comparing Superannuation Funds

When it comes to comparing superannuation funds it often can be daunting with the investment options, fees and possible insurance options on the hundreds of funds which are available to you. It is also common to find to that funds report on a different basis, whether that be period or investment option to name a few, making it particularly difficult to compare like for like.

 

The two mains ways to compare superannuation products are directly or through the assistance of a financial adviser.

 

To directly compare funds you must first ascertain what it is that you need to get out of your fund. You will need to take into consideration a number of factors including investment options, if you require any form of insurance, how much you will require, how soon you anticipate on retiring. Once you are able to ascertain these factors you will need to contact each of the super funds to determine if they will meet your needs. Once you have narrowed down a panel of funds that will meet your needs you will then be able to start comparing insurance premiums and fees involved.

 

If you seek the assistance of a financial adviser they will be able to help you determine which fund will meet your needs as opposed to which fund is simply better, they will also be able to quickly compare fees and insurance premiums leaving you to select the best option for your circumstances.

Increases to Superannuation and how this will affect you

As the 2014 financial year begins so does an increase to our superannuation, which has been introduced by our Government. The increase will see superannuation guarantee contributions rise to 9.25% from the previous 9%.

 

The question you might be asking is ‘who is going to pay for this increase in superannuation’. The answer to this might in fact be you.

 

Depending on your employment contract you might in fact be funding your own superannuation increase. It has been found that 44% of employers are contracting their staff on a total package remuneration. This therefore means that you will be receiving 0.25% less of your base salary in your bank account each pay day. One third of employers are contracting their staff on a base salary plus superannuation package. This means that the amount you receive in your bank account each pay day will remain unchanged and you will be receiving the additional 0.25% in your superannuation.  The other 22 per cent of employers are using a combination of both remuneration systems.

 

For those staff employed under a total package remuneration, there is no obligation for your employer to increase your salary to allow you to receive the same pay in your bank account as you did last financial year.

 

Superannuation changes allowing Seniors to contribute more

As of 1 July Australia’s senior population will now be able to contribute an additional $10,000 tax-deductible into their superannuation fund.

 

The concessional contribution cap has increased from $25,000 to $35,000. This is a great benefit to those over the age of 60 as it allows them to put more money away for their impending retirement.

 

As of July 2014 the increase to $35,000 will not only be available to those over the age of 60 but also to those over the age of 50.

The top 10 changes to your superannuation this financial year

1 - The tax-deductible contribution for Senior’s has increased from $25,000 to $35,000.

 

2 - Superannuation Guarantee has increased from 9.00% to 9.25%.

 

3 - Financial advisers are no longer able to charge commission on investment products within Superannuation.

 

4 - SuperStream has been introduced to increase the ease of back-office functions such as consolidating your super.

 

5 - It is not compulsory for employers to make super guarantee payments to workers over the age of 70.

 

6 - ASIC now has increased power to investigate and act on complaints within Superannuation.

 

7 - It is now compulsory for all financial advisers to act in the best interest of their clients, previously this was not a legal requirement.

 

8 - Penalties have been removed for exceeding contribution caps.

 

9 - Reduced superannuation tax benefits for high income earners (300K +).

 

10 - Financial advisers and all super funds now have to offer basic advice at no cost.

A Market Correction?

When financial markets become chaotic it’s often instructive to look to the fundamentals for guidance. Earnings, past and prospective, commodity and product price trends, inflation, interest rates, labour costs etc.

The fundamentals don’t always provide the best guide for investors in a market. As economics guru John Maynard Keynes said: “Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent”.

Having said that, it’s good to have an idea of whether a fairly-valued market has just been hit by a bout of nerves unjustified by a sober assessment of the outlook.

Is the market undergoing a healthy, if somewhat painful “correction” or a bubble inflated by irrational expectations is finally bursting?

The `healthy correction’ argument seems to have the most going for it.

Why? - In the past few months, share prices globally have been near their highest levels in a decade relative to projected earnings. That’s important, because a share is really nothing more than a claim on a share of a company’s future earnings.

The RBA’s website includes a collection of charts (it’s Chart Pack) updated monthly, and it includes an instructive chart of the ratio of current share prices to prospective earnings over the coming year, for both Australia and the world.

However it’s a only rule of thumb.

There is a lot more to share valuations than earnings forecasts by analysts at stockbroking firms. However if any single chart told the story of the market’s vulnerability to a sell-off it’s that one.

It shows prices in both Australia and the rest of the world nudging 17 x prospective earnings in recent months.

That ratio has not been higher for more than a decade, and over the past 20 years was only consistently above recent levels around the time of the infamous “tech stock” boom that pushed share prices into fantasyland.

Assuming the earnings outlook is not downgraded, share prices needed to fall 12 to 18% for the P/E ratio to get back to a more reasonable 14 to 15.

Both Australian and the world share markets have lost circa 7- 10% cent so far during August. From this perspective, while there may some more “correction” to come, it’s probably fair to say that we are more than 50% of the way to the point where further market falls would be hard to justify and begin to look like overshooting.

If the world economy takes a turn for the worse, so would fundamental estimates of fair value for markets and more downside could be justified.

However right now, markets seem to be a bit pricey rather than way out of line with reality.

Market Panic - What Happened!

What happened? - Global markets fell very sharply over the past week culminating in a 4% decline on the ASX Monday, bringing the total decline from Aprils high to almost 17%.

ASX 200 – 12 Months to date

asx-12mnths

The catalyst for the share sell off was action taken by China to devalue the Renmimbi (Chinese Yuan) against the US$.

The GFC saw unprecedented co-operation between Governments and Central Banks across the globe. They implemented policies to lower interest rates and flood the financial system with cheap money, a side effect of which is general currency weakness. China has a currency peg to the US$ and as a large export economy enjoyed the benefit of the weaker US$ as the Federal Reserve kept the printing presses running. The US ended the Quantitative Easing (money printing) Programme at the end of 2014 and is likely to increase the official cash rate later this year causing resurgence in the US$. Ahead of the devaluation, the Chinese RMB was up 14% on a trade weighted basis year to date. So, China has decided to break ranks. The devaluation last week wasn’t a one off but the start of a concerted effort to un-peg from the USD and re-peg to their trade weighted basket in order to maintain market share in manufactured exports.

Key Concerns:

This action followed some weak manufacturing sector data for July and August which prompted concerns that China’s economy was slowing far more than previously thought. This was coupled with a Chinese stock market that has been in free fall for two months.

China’s GDP Growth and Manufacturing PMI

chinas-gdp-growth

Generally most do not believe that weakness in the Chinese stock market has a broader read through to the general economy, but do highlight the importance of the Chinese economy to global growth. By way of example, China is now a larger new car market than the United States.

No need to Panic

Most believe that August will likely show a mild rebound in China’s industrial production and stabilisation of economic growth. Power output grew almost 4% in the first 20 days of August and expect more policy action from the People’s bank of China that has progressively eased lending conditions and restrictions on the property market.

We have also seen continued strong economic growth out of the US, highlighted by last night’s GDP report.

real-gdp-growth

Action Taken and Summary:

The slow unwinding of the greatest monetary experiment in history was always going to create volatility in both bond and equity markets. Over the past few months both quickly repriced. The Australian share market moved from being overpriced to undervalued and many have been on the front foot buying the dips, predominantly on Monday and Tuesday.

Many expect continued volatility, particularly in Emerging Markets & expect the US to raise rates later this year but note that the European Central bank and Japanese Central Bank are still printing. Whether or not one see’s another rate cut in Australia, many expect Australia to remain in a low rate environment for some time, which will see continued demand for equity income.

Superannuation change is coming - time to load it up

Many are now saying that the amazingly generous provisions for the wealthy set up by Costello and Howard fit into the category of simply too good to be true.

What should flow from the summit then is a rush to load up super accounts by those who can.  Assuming at least some degree of grandfathering of the likely changes, there is no time like the present for shovelling as much as possible into super.

For a well-off couple, that could mean $1.15 million before the end of this financial year – or perhaps sooner in case Scott Morrison brings down a mini-budget. Most of the superannuation commentary concentrates on the generosity of concessionary contributions, but it's actually the much bigger after-tax contributions that make the big difference when the tax haven's tax-free status kicks in. - a quick recap of the possible contributions: $30,000 in concessional contributions a year for those under 50yo, $35,000 concessional for those over 50yo, and $180,000 a year in after-tax contributions.

And what's really great is that the ATO allows individuals to pull forward an extra two years – so $540,000 this year. Contributions may be made on a spouse's behalf, so the total this year could be $1.15 million ($540,000 x 2 + $35,000 x 2) for a couple over 50.

This sort of money raises interesting questions about flows should enough relatively well-off people act at once. The pressure to downsize to free up un-needed home equity would grow and the advisers should be very busy.   – there is an immediate payoff for investors once the cash is in the super fund - earnings are taxed at only 15% and capital gains half of that - but once a member starts drawing a partial pension: the fund's earnings become tax free, as are the pension payments.

Depending on the individual's circumstances, the incentive to jump in big time before the rules change may make borrowing worthwhile, though there is always the question of what to do with geared money.  On one hand, it's cheaper now than it recently was to buy shares. On the other hand, there's plenty of volatility and uncertainty about to make investors nervous.

Last time major super changes encouraged individuals to borrow and load up, it was just in time for a stock market crash (GFC)….

image001

Australians accessing their superannuation via pension streams

Australians accessing their superannuation via pension streams

New research released last week suggests more Australians are opting to put their superannuation into pension streams, rather than access it as a lump sum.

The data, from actuarial firm Rice Warner and financial services company Colonial First State, suggests this trend is on the rise and that 83% of superannuation money from 2013-2014 was put into superannuation pensions.

From the remaining funds, only 10% was taken as a lump sum and the rest was taken as partial lump sums.

Not simply retirees taking the lump sums

It is a common view that Australians like to take their superannuation as a lump sum when they retire, rather than live off a pension. But the study shows that this would seem to be a bit of a myth, as the study shows retirees are preferring different pension streams.

The lump sums that are being withdrawn from superannuation accounts also aren’t necessarily being taken from accounts of retirees. For example, the report found that, in 2014-15, only 58% of all the lump sum superannuation payments were made to people who were retired.

Changes to superannuation in the future

Rice Warner says in its report that it believes more than 95% of all retirement benefits will be taken as pensions in 10 years time, as the system for superannuation matures.

The firm says the reason for these changes is due to the way concessional tax is being treated, the increase of money people have in their accounts, and the improvement in pension products on the market. These factors mean most retirees are better off keeping their funds safe in their super balance.

Those with higher superannuation more likely to take a pension

The study also found that if a superannuation fund had more than $300,000 in it at retirement, the fund owner was much more likely to take the fund as a pension, compared to someone who had a balance of $50,000 or less.

People working longer

Rice Warner says the way many people work is changing in the modern day. More than ever, pensioners still have income streams coming in when they reach retirement age.

This is backed up by data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that shows 23% of over-45s say they will not be retiring before they are 70. This is a huge rise on the 8% who said the same a decade ago.

The main reason is because many Australians feel they are not financially secure enough to retire sooner than 70.

The government will need to consider this when it looks at superannuation reform in the upcoming budget because studies like these show that, for many Australians, a comfortable retirement is not feasible.

Lump sums from superannuation going forward

All this new data doesn’t meant retirees still shouldn’t take out large lump sums from their super funds if they want to buy an asset after they’ve retired.

And if they want, fund owners should still contribute to their superannuation after they’ve hit retirement age, helping their savings pot to grow.

 

_________________________________________
Photo credit: marneejill via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

9 Mistakes People Make When Setting Goals

A lot of us are staring at a blank whiteboard thinking about what we are going to accomplish in 2016.

Setting your goals for the year ahead is an extremely important task that everyone should take seriously. When you’re not striving to reach specific milestones or targets, it is very easy to fall into a hole where you lack motivation and drive – and this will show in your results. Not that goals shouldn’t be reviewed, added or changed throughout the year as you tick a few off – the start of the new year is just a convenient time to do it.

When I consider what I am going to accomplish for the year, my goals into three categories: health, business and community. I find these three areas complement each other nicely. The fitter and healthier I am, the more productive I am, and the more energy I have to focus on my business-related goals. The more revenue I generate, the more I can contribute to my community through various levels of engagement like sport sponsorships, fundraisers, awareness events for health causes and so on.

I also find it helpful to track my progress by linking small goals each month or every quarter to the larger goal. So, if one of your goals is due in September, then make sure you have milestones along the way so you can measure your progress accurately – this will improve your chances of success significantly. Also, ensure your goals have a purpose – not just to make you more money or benefit you – make sure they serve a greater purpose to others and you’ll feel a much higher level of fulfilment when you succeed.

Advice - when setting goals, ensure they fit within the S.M.A.R.T framework:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Lastly, don’t list too many goals!

Think of the biggest and most important few, and focus all of your energy on those goals. You’ll want to cover a lot of ground and change the world in one year, but the reality is time will fly by so fast and you’ll be so far behind that it will be easier to give up than to keep going. If you just have a few, you can quickly make up some ground and get back on track to ensure you have a successful year.


 

NINE MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN SETTING GOALS

1. They don’t actually set a goal.

Knowing that you want something and not setting a goal is like trying to shoot an arrow without a target, you don’t really know where to aim.

I get that we don’t like to set goals because it’s easier to pretend that we don’t want something than it is to say we want something and for it not to happen, but if you’re ready to step up and start owning what you want — and working towards it — it’s time to start getting friendly with goals.

“The most important thing about goals is having one.” — Geoffrey F. Abe

Start by: Being honest with yourself about what you want and setting a goal.


 

2. They don’t write it down.

Having a goal in mind in your head is good, but taking the time to actual declare what it is by writing it down — that’s even more powerful.

I know for me, as soon as I put pen to paper and actual write my goal down, it becomes more “real”.

Writing your goal down can also help you to work out how you can word it in a way that’s empowering for you.

Start by: Declaring what your goal is by writing it down.


 

3. They don’t make it realistic.

Aiming to climb Mount Everest when you haven’t exercised in months? Not exactly realistic.

On the other hand, aiming to be able to complete the local fun run in 3 months? This is a more realistic goal.

A huge mistake people make when it comes to goals is they set goals that are totally unrealistic, which can be completely overwhelming and also lead to a “why bother” attitude because the goal is so far out of their reach.

Goals definitely should challenge and stretch you — however they should also be realistic as well.

This might mean making sure the goal itself is achievable, or coming up with a realistic time-frame that you want to achieve the goal in.

Start by: Making your goal realistic.


 

4. They make their goals vague and ambiguous.

“Be fitter” is a vague goal.

“Be fit enough to complete the local fun run” is a much clearer and specific goal.

Setting goals that are vague and ambiguous are not powerful at all, and definitely do not set you up for success.

Goals that are ambiguous are hard to achieve because it’s unclear what it is you want (and then, what you will need to do to get there) and it will also be unclear if you’ve achieved it or not.

It’s much more powerful to get really clear on what you want and set a goal that is really specific.

Start by: Making your goal clear and specific.


 

5. They aren’t clear on their why.

Setting a goal but not knowing why you want to achieve does not set you up for success at all.

It can lead you to getting unmotivated because you don’t feel connected to your goal enough to take action.

And it can also lead you to achieving your goal and realising that you don’t feel accomplished at all.

Getting clear on why you want to achieve something is important to make sure that you’re goal really is what YOU want and also so you feel connected to the goal and are more likely to take action to achieve it.

Start by: Getting clear on why you want to achieve this goal and why it is important to you.


 

6. They don’t take the time to continually check in with their goal.

There’s no point in setting a goal and then completely forgetting about it.

It’s important to regularly check in with your goal to see if it’s still aligned to you (if it’s what you really want), to reflect on your progress and to remind you to keep taking action.

I find checking in with my goals to be a really good reminder for me to work out what I need to do next to move forward and make it happen.

Start by: Making a note to check in with your goal at frequent intervals.


 

7. They make their goal a to do list.

“Enrol in life coach training, learn how to become a life coach, start a website, build a social media following, and graduate as a life coach.”

This goal is so overwhelming because there is so much going on in it.

To make a goal more powerful it’s important to set a goal that is focused and concise.

For example you might make the goal above into two specific goals:

1. Become a certified life coach.

2. Launch a website that I’m proud of.

Or even combine the main parts: Become a certified life coach and launch a website that I’m proud of.

And the other parts of the goal like enrol in life coach training can make a really good step to take to achieve the more focused goal.

Start by: Making your goal focused and not a to do list of what you need to do.


 

8. They don’t set themselves up for success.

There’s no point setting a goal and then hoping for the best.

If you want to achieve something it’s important to help yourself and set yourself up for success.

For example:

If you tend to forget about your goals, you might write your goal down and put it somewhere you see it everyday or set a reminder to go off on your phone every single day,

If in the past you’ve gotten really overwhelmed by your goals, you might like to break it down into manageable steps and actions to take, so it’s more do-able (and less overwhelming).

And if you’re goal is to be able to complete the local fun run, and you’ve decided that each morning you will go for a walk, set yourself up for success by lying your clothes out and runners the night before.

Start by: Doing something to set yourself up for success with this goal.


 

9. They aren’t inspired by their goal.

If you want to be motivated to take action and achieve a goal, you need to set a goal that is really inspiring for you.

“Go on an epic overseas adventure to Europe” might be more inspiring for you than “Save for an overseas holiday.”

“Find a job that I’m excited to do each day” might be more inspiring than “Get a new job.”

A goal that’s inspiring helps us to be motivated and more likely to take action towards achieving it.

Start by: Setting a goal that inspires you.


Photo credit: Frederick Homes for Sale via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Job Seeking & Support

If you are looking for work, have recently lost your job, or are at risk of losing your job, there are payments from the Australian Department of Human Services and services to help support you.


Income support while you look for work

  • Newstart Allowance” provides financial help if you are looking for work. It supports you while you do activities that may increase your chances of finding a job, such as studying or training.  The amount of    ‘Newstart Allowance’ you are paid depends on your situation.  Waiting periods may apply. (xii)For more information on Newstart go to: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/newstart-allowance
  • Youth Allowance provides financial help for young people who are:
    • studying full time
    • undertaking a full time Australian apprenticeship
    • training
    • looking for work or
    • temporarily incapacitated for work or study

If you have taken a redundancy or leave payment, the Australian Department of Human Services can provide you with support while you look for another job.  A link below to the Dept. of Human Services website below tells you more, if you have been retrenched or made redundant (xiii): https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/subjects/retrenched-or-made-redundant

If you pay or receive child support, make sure we know about any changes to your circumstances.  Changes may affect the amount of child support you pay or receive. You can update your child support arrangement by calling using your Child Support online accounts through myGovhttps://my.gov.au/LoginServices/main/login?execution=e1s1 ) or calling 131 272.

To read more about changes that affect your child support, refer link below : (xiv):  https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/child-support/child-support-online-accounts


Payments to help you study or train :

Austudy” is for full time students and Australian Apprentices aged 25 or older.

ABSTUDY is for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders who are studying or undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship.

Youth Allowance is for young people who are:

  • studying or training full time
  • undertaking a full time Australian Apprenticeship
  • looking for work, or
  • temporarily unable to work or study

In addition to these payments, you may be able to get other payments if you are studying or training.

The Pensioner Education Supplement helps with the ongoing costs of full time or part time study in a secondary or tertiary course.

You may also be able to get Education Entry Payment.


Child care costs while you look for work or study

Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance provides extra help to pay for approved child care when eligible parents undertake activities such as job search, work, study, training or rehabilitation to enter the workforce as part of a Job Plan or Participation Plan.

Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance provides extra help to pay for approved child care when eligible parents undertake activities as part of their Job Plan or Participation Plan to enter the workforce such as:

  • looking for work
  • working
  • studying
  • training, or
  • rehabilitation

Parenting Payment provides income support to parents or guardians to help with the cost of raising children.


Job seekers with disability

Disability Support Pension provides financial support if you have a physical, intellectual, or psychiatric condition that stops you from working, or if you are permanently blind. If you are eligible, you may receive this payment along with other benefits, including a Pensioner Concession Card. If you start work, you may still receive this payment, depending on the number of hours you work and how much you earn.

Mobility Allowance helps if you have a disability, illness or injury and cannot use public transport without substantial assistance, either permanently or for an extended period. To be eligible you must be looking for work or participating in paid or voluntary work, study or training.

You are not eligible for Mobility Allowance if you are receiving a funded package of support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Youth Disability Supplement provides additional financial support to young people with physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability who receive certain income support payments.


Other government and community support services

There are a range of other organisations that provide support services and useful information you may find helpful.


 

xii  : source – Aust Government Department of Human Services - “Newstart Allowance” - https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/newstart-allowance

xiii : source – Aust Government Department of Human Services “Retrenched or made redundant” : https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/subjects/retrenched-or-made-redundant

xiv : source – Aust Government Department of Human Services “Child Support online accounts” : https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/child-support/child-support-online-accounts

Photo credit: neetalparekh via Foter.com / CC BY

Concessional Super contributions and Unused concessional cap carry forward

a. Those considering making super contributions from July 2017 needs to be aware that the annual concessional (before-tax) contributions cap is proposed to be lower than previous financial years. [3]

Amongst the superannuation changes under the Treasury Laws Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Superannuation) Bill 2016 [Provisions] (TLA Bill) [3] proposed in the various Bills before Federal Parliament currently is the proposal to (from 1 July 2017), [3]  drop the annual concessional contributions cap to $25,000 per annum.  Until 30 June 2017, the concessional (before-tax) would remain $30,000 for those under 50yo, and $35,000 for over 50yo’s

Income year Under 50 50 years to 59 years* 60 years and over*
PROPOSED
2017 / 2018
$25,000 $25,000 $25,000
EXISTING
2016 / 2017
$30,000 $35,000 $35,000

From 1 July 2017, the annual before-tax contributions cap is proposed [3] to be a single annual cap for all ages, being $25,000. The Federal Government however does plan to allow catch-up concessional contributions for those Australians who have less than $500,000 in superannuation.

b. also proposed under the TLA Bill [3] from 1 July 2018 (subject to legislation passing), [2] if one’s superannuation account balance (or combined balances if you have more than one super account) is less than $500,000 at the end of a financial year, then one will have the opportunity to utilise the unused portions of ones concessional caps from previous years (up to 5 years’ worth) in the next financial year, or future years.  It is proposed that the unused cap amounts can start to be carried forward from 1 July 2018. (ie -  from the start of the 2018/2019 financial year, which means the 2019/2020 year is the first financial year that individuals can take advantage of unused cap amounts from previous financial years).

To summarize under the proposals, if they get passed :

  •  after 1 July 2017, the annual concessional cap will drop to $25,000.
  • after 1 July 2018, an individual can play catch-up concessional contributions (using unused portions of the annual concessional caps from previous 5 years), provided the individual has a total superannuation balance of less than $500,000 in superannuation

What are concessional contributions?
Concessional contributions are before-tax contributions that can include employer contributions (SGC and other employer contributions), contributions made under a salary sacrifice arrangement, and tax-deductible contributions by an individual. You, or your employer, generally receive some type of tax advantage when a concessional contribution is made to a super fund. [1]
Concessional contributions can include [1]:

  • employer contributions such as :
  • compulsory  Superannuation Guarantee contributions
  • any additional voluntary super contributions your employer may make
  • any fund costs paid by your employer on behalf of your super fund, such as administration fees and insurance premiums
  • the equivalent of your employer contributions under a defined benefit scheme as determined by the trustee
  • salary sacrifice amounts
  • personal contributions by an eligible person (such as a self-employed person) that are allowed as an income tax deduction
  • transfers from reserves (as defined by the regulations to the legislation)
  • the taxable component of a directed termination payment (or the total of directed termination payments plus any transitional eligible termination payments) in excess of $1 million.

Source : 
[1] ATO : https://www.ato.gov.au/Super/Self-managed-super-funds/Contributions-and-rollovers/Contribution-caps/
https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Super/In-detail/Withdrawing-and-paying-tax/Super-contributions---too-much-can-mean-extra-tax/?page=1#Concessional_contributions

[2] Budget 2016- Superannuation Reform, Super Fact Sheet 30/09/2016
http://budget.gov.au/2016-17/content/glossies/tax_super/html/

[3] Treasury Laws Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Superannuation) Bill 2016
http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_LEGislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5760

Life Insurance Myths

Life insurance premiums are generally affected by a number of factors including: [4]

  • Age
  • Health History
  • Current Health
  • Weight
  • Occupation
  • Smoking
  • Level of alcohol consumption
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Gender

You should also beware of life insurance myths that frequently get tossed around. Below we have listed 6 myths which we debunk:

1. I’m already covered by the life insurance included with my superannuation fund.
This is a common misconception.  Many Australians aren’t really sure what their super fund insurance covers. Insurance through your super may offer a default death cover, but may not provide access to other important types of cover. It’s important not to just assume that the generic life insurance supplied by your super fund is adequate. Always worth checking to see what your level of cover includes.

2 . I’ve got private health insurance
Private health cover doesn’t help you replace lost income, cover debts or provide financial security for your family if you should unexpectedly pass away or become unable to work through injury, illness or disablement. Will your private health policy cover the total costs of long-term treatment or post-injury rehabilitation? What happens if your recovery takes much longer than expected and your ability to provide for your family is affected?

 3. Insurers can’t be trusted
The modern Australian insurance industry is highly regulated, tightly controlled and very transparent, and it’s now easy to check out a specific insurer’s reputation online. Checking out how many awards a particular insurer has won from Industry bodies usually gives a reasonable indication of their overall quality. Annual awards for insurers (and many other industries) can be found on the Canstar website. (eg - independent, third party review sites are also available for many insurers. These will give you a pretty good idea of general customer satisfaction levels.)

4. All life insurance is the same
There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for determining the ideal life insurance cover for your needs. Every individual and family has different requirements. However things you might want to factor into the equation include your current and future financial obligations, the debts you’d like to pay off and what your family needs to financially cope if you pass away or can’t work. Think about what happens if a sudden debilitating illness strikes or you become disabled. What are your existing financial resources and ongoing household expenses? These are all relevant considerations. Work with your adviser so you get the cover you need at a price you can handle and that gives you the peace of mind that quality insurance brings.

5. Life insurance isn’t worth bothering about
Life insurance is one of those non exciting subjects that normally doesn’t rate too highly on many people’s priority lists, however should.
Having the appropriate life cover can have a major (and potentially life-changing) impact on you and your family’s financial future. Australians often have a bit of a problem with life insurance. Research by AFA (the Association of Financial Advisers) in 2011 showed Australian’s believed that insuring our cars, homes and health is more important than insuring our lives. Of those of us who already have life insurance, only 29.3 per cent rate it as ‘extremely important’. For those without life cover, the figure is 5 per cent. The same research also shows that only 2 out of 10 Aussies receive life insurance-related financial advice [1].

When it comes to life insurance, our ‘she’ll be right’ attitude just doesn’t match up with the facts. Here are some statistics worth pondering:

  • Half of all Australians are underinsured by $100,000 for life insurance
  • 74 per cent are underinsured for TPD (Total and Permanent Disability) cover
  • A quarter of men and a third of women will suffer cancer at some point in their lifetime
  • 81 per cent of us believe life insurance is too pricey, but 61 per cent overestimate the cost
  • More than 1600 people die on Aussie roads each year
  • 41 per cent of us think ‘life insurance is too complicated’
  • 63 per cent of Australians with a partner report that they haven’t discussed life insurance with their other half, with 29 per cent feeling it’s ‘difficult’ or ‘unpleasant’ to talk about
  • Household debt in this country grew twice as quickly as the value of our household assets during the past 18 years [1]

6. Everything will be fine - The Government will look after me and my family if something happens
Many Australians incorrectly believe that federal government laws protect them financially in the case of premature death, injury or illness. While it’s true that benefits through Work Cover, the Widow Allowance, Centrelink’s Disability Support Pension and other support services can help, these payments have very specific eligibility requirements and are rarely enough to support a family [2]. For up to date information on payments for people living with disability, illness or injury, visit the Department of Human Services website. [3] Money received from government benefits may cover the barest essentials, but unlike a life insurance policy, it won’t enable your family to maintain their current lifestyle and stay on top of financial obligations if the unexpected happens.

Worker’s compensation also has obvious limitations. It only applies to illnesses directly caused by your employment or injuries/accidents that happen during working hours.
Sources:

1.    Lifewise – via the Financial Services Council (FSC) - http://www.lifewise.org.au/facts-research
2.    25 Life Insurance Myths – Hive Empire Pty Ltd (trading as finder.com.au )  - http://www.lifeinsurancefinder.com.au/life-insurance-myths
3.    Payments for people living with an illness, injury or disability : https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/subjects/payments-people-living-illness-injury-or-disability
4.    Top factors That Affect Life Insurance Premiums : - InsuranceHotline.com  16 September 2016 : https://www.insurancehotline.com/the-top-10-factors-that-affect-life-insurance-premiums/

5 biggest myths about life insurance – Aug 26,2016https://www.tal.com.au/insurance-explained/slice-of-life-blog/five-biggest-myths-about-life-insurance

 

Disclaimer :

Before making decisions you should consider how appropriate they are given your own objectives, financial situation and needs, because this email has been prepared without taking these into account.

The information listed above is general advice only. As such, it is important you consider the information provided in relation to your personal situation and financial objectives. Where information has been provided for a specific financial product, we recommend you also take into account the PDS (Product Disclosure Statement). Super Search Australia Pty Limited, ABN 85 159 487 171 is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Affinia Financial Advisers Limited (ABN 13 085 335 397 Australian Financial Services Licence No. 237857 © Super Search 2016.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Super Search Australia Pty Limited or Affinia Financial Advisers Limited.