How to pick the best super fund
Generally, to compare super funds, look at the following features:
- A history of high long-term returns (funds with 10-year returns above 7% p.a. are among the top performers )
- Low fees (aim for annual fees less than 1.5% of your super balance)
- An investment strategy that aligns with your age, risk tolerance, goals and personal values
You should also consider the following:
If you're young (under 45), you might want a super fund that has a bit more exposure to high-growth assets like shares and property. These assets offer higher capital growth over the long term so are best for members with a long timeframe. Once you get into your 50s, you might want to gradually reduce your exposure to high-risk growth assets (although you don't need to).
Your risk tolerance
Regardless of your age, you should invest your super in a fund that aligns with your personal risk tolerance. If having the majority of your super invested in high-risk assets like shares is going to keep you awake at night, you might want to consider a balanced fund instead of a high-growth fund. If you're happy taking on more risk and it's not going to cause you anxiety, a high-growth option might be suited to you.
Your investment preferences
There are specialty funds that suit investors with particular preferences, for example funds that focus on technology investments or international shares.
Your personal values
If you don't want your super to be invested in industries like coal, fossil fuels, animal cruelty or ammunition manufacturing, you may want to consider an ethical super fund.
What's the best performing super fund in Australia?
Hostplus Balanced has the best performance over the past 10 years with an average annual return of 8.9%. AustralianSuper Balanced is a close runner up with an average annual return of 8.6%, and Australian Retirement Trust Balanced with 8.4% p.a.
The table below uses performance data for the period ending June 2023. It looks at balanced funds only - balanced funds are those with 60-80% allocation towards growth assets like shares, and it's where the majority of Australians have their super invested.
All of these top 10 best performing funds are industry super funds, not retail funds.
Top 10 best performing Australian super funds
|Super fund||Average 10-year return|
|Hostplus Balanced||8.9% p.a.|
|AustralianSuper Balanced||8.6% p.a.|
|Australian Retirement Trust - Balanced||8.4% p.a.|
|UniSuper Balanced||8.4% p.a.|
|Cbus Growth (MySuper)||8.3% p.a.|
|Vision Super Balanced Growth||8.1% p.a.|
|CareSuper Balanced||8.0% p.a.|
|HESTA Balanced Growth||7.9% p.a.|
|Aware Super Balanced||7.8% p.a.|
|Spirit Super Balanced||7.5% p.a.|
Which super fund has the lowest fees?
The super funds with the lowest fees are all single sector investment options. This is because they only invest in one asset class, rather than diversified options (such as balanced funds) which invest in many different asset classes.
Using the data in our comparison table, the super fund product with the lowest fees is QSuper International Shares with annual fees of just 0.31%. Other funds with low fees include: AMIST Shares with fees of 0.34%; Aware Super Australian Shares with fees of 0.36%; and Mine Super International Shares with fees of 0.36%.
If we just look at balanced funds instead, those with the lowest fees include: Bendigo SmartStartSuper Balanced Index with annual fees of 0.66%; UniSuper Balanced with annual fees of 0.67%; AMIST Balanced with fees of 0.73%; and AustralianSuper Balanced with fees of 0.76%.
What's the highest performing super fund in 2023?
The super funds with the highest returns for 2023 are all single sector investment options that invest entirely in shares. These investment options have returned over 20% for members over the 12 months to June 2023.
Mine Super's International Shares option was the top-performer over the financial year with a return of 22.77%. Some other high-performing funds include: Virgin Money Super Indexed Overseas Shares with a return of 21.49%; Aware Super International Shares with 20.72%; and Australian Retirement Trust International Shares Index (unhedged) with 20.37%.
Although these funds have achieved outstanding high returns over the past year, they're all very high risk investment options as they invest exclusively in international shares. The recent financial year was a good one for the share market, but it's important to remember that when there's a market fall, these options would be likely to instead make a negative return. Over the long term (10 years), these funds have all achieved annual average returns of between 10-12% p.a.
Methodology: How we choose our top super fund picks
We regularly look at the super funds in our database to determine which are the best offers for a range of different purposes. Specifically, here's how we determine each of our top pick recommendations:
Why it's important to make sure you're with a great super fund
Each year the regulator APRA analyses the market and identifies the worst super funds, which are underperforming for members. According to APRA data, in 2022 there were 350,000 fewer people in default super products with terrible investment performance compared to 2021, which is great news.
However, APRA data also shows that 800,000 people still have their super invested with an underperforming fund. If you haven't checked your fund in a few years, you could be one of them.
You can use Finder's superannuation calculator to see an estimate of your retirement balance based on your current fund, versus if you switched to a different fund with better returns or lower fees.
Frequently asked questions about picking a super fund
Why you can trust Finder's super fund experts
Our comparison tables are completely free to use. We link you directly to the super fund's secure application page. Plus, you can access all of our research in our media room.
We've researched and rated hundreds of super funds as part of our Finder Awards. We've published 50+ guides and our in-house experts regularly appear on Sunrise, 7News and SBS News.
Unlike other comparison sites, we're not owned by a super fund company. That means our opinions are our own and you can compare nearly every super fund in Australia on Finder.
Since 2017, we've helped over 200,000 people find a super fund by comprehensively comparing funds. We'll never ask for your personal information. We're here to help you make a decision.
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