What is a high growth super fund?
A high growth super fund is a fund that has more money invested in growth assets including shares and property, and less money invested in defensive assets like cash and bonds. Because it has more money invested in growth assets, a high growth fund aims to achieve higher investment returns for members over the long term. However, with higher returns can also come increased risk and volatility in the short term.
There's no exact industry standard around what is classed as a high growth super fund in terms of asset allocation. At Finder, we classify high growth super funds as those with more than 80% of their asset allocation in growth assets like shares. If the fund has less than 80% of its money invested in growth assets, we'd then classify it as a balanced fund instead.
Different types of high growth super fund options
There are a few different types of high growth super options out there and each fund has a slightly different way of defining what exactly is "high growth".
Diversified high growth investment options
Most super funds offer a diversified high growth investment option as an alternative choice to the default investment option, which is usually a diversified balanced option. A diversified fund simply means it invests in a mix of asset classes, making it more diversified than if you were to put all your super into one asset class (learn more about superannuation investment options).
Let's look at AustralianSuper as an example. The default investment option is the AustralianSuper Balanced fund, which is a diversified fund that invests in a mix of shares, property, infrastructure, bonds and fixed interest among other things. This is the option that you'll automatically be invested in when you join AustralianSuper, unless you specify otherwise.
However, AustralianSuper offers a range of alternative diversified investment options as well as its balanced fund, one being the AustralianSuper High Growth fund. This is another diversified investment option that invests in shares, property, infrastructure, bonds and fixed interest, but the portion of your super that's invested in shares is higher than that of the balanced fund.
High growth superannuation funds
Some superannuation funds only offer high growth options, making the entire fund a high growth fund.
One example is Spaceship Super which only offers 2 investment options: Spaceship Growth X fund and Spaceship Global Index fund. Both these options have more than 90% of their investment allocation in growth assets like global shares, making them both very high growth super products.
High growth single sector investment options
Unlike diversified investment options, single sector investment options only invest in the one asset class. Because they're not diversified, some single sector investment options are very high growth options (diversification works to reduce your investment risk by not keeping all your eggs in the one basket).
Let's look at AustralianSuper again as an example here. As well as its diversified investment options, it also offers a range of high growth single sector investment options including AustralianSuper Property (which just invests in property) and AustralianSuper International Shares (which just invests in international shares).
Single sector investment options are designed for members who want to be a lot more hands-on with their super, as you're able to split your balance up between several single sector options however you choose to do it.
High growth versus balanced and lifestage super funds
Most super funds will offer a diversified balanced option as the default fund for members. A balanced fund invests in a range of growth assets (e.g. shares and property) and defensive assets (e.g. cash and bonds), but it still has more exposure to growth assets than defensive.
A high growth fund will have an even higher portion of its balance invested in growth assets compared to a balanced fund. For example, a balanced fund might have 30% of its balance invested in shares, while a high growth fund might have 60%.
A lifestage super fund, for example the Virgin Money Super Lifestage Tracker, works a bit differently again. A lifestage fund will change your investment mix as you get older, gradually reducing your exposure to growth assets as you get closer to retirement. This is all managed for you without you even noticing. So when you're young you'll be invested in a high growth fund, then this will change to a balanced fund and then later a conservative fund as you're about to retire.
High growth versus balanced performance
Looking at some of the biggest super funds, this table shows the average annual returns over the past 10 years for both the fund's balanced and high growth options.
Who is a high growth super fund most suitable for?
Anyone can choose to switch their super to a high growth fund. It may suit you if:
- You have a higher risk appetite
Because high growth funds have more exposure to shares, they can be more volatile in the short term (1–3 years). This is because the price of shares fluctuates a lot from day to day and the share market is very sensitive and quick to react to global news (as we saw during COVID-19 when the stock market crashed more than 30%). However, while there may be more volatility in the short term, shares continue to be one of the best investments over the long term (5–10 years).
- You're young
It's generally recommended that you invest in a high growth fund in your 20s, 30s and even 40s, then change this to a balanced fund when you get older. This is because when you're young, you have plenty of time to ride out any short-term market volatility. However, if you're only a couple of years away from retirement, you have much less time for your super to recover if there was a market crash.
- You're seeking better returns
If you're not happy with how your super fund is performing, switching to a high growth super fund might be a good way to achieve better returns. Just remember there may be a bit more volatility along the way.
Pros and cons of high growth super funds
- High growth super funds often achieve better returns over the long term
- High growth super funds are readily available and most major super funds already offer a high growth option
- The fees are often quite similar between high growth super funds and balanced super funds
- High growth super funds aren't the default investment option, so you'll need to proactively opt for this option when joining your fund
- High growth super funds can come with more investment risk and increased volatility, especially in the short term
How to switch to a high growth super fund
If you want to switch to the high growth investment option offered by your current super fund, you can easily do this via the fund's mobile app or the online member portal. You can switch investment options at any time and you may even have the choice to split your super up between different options if you don't want it all in the high growth fund.
If you don't want to switch to the high growth investment option with your current super fund or if you don't have an existing super fund, follow these steps:
- Choose your fund. Compare high growth super funds and choose the one you want to go with.
- Join the fund. Join the super fund by completing the online membership application form.
- Select the high growth investment option. During the application process, there may be an opportunity for you to select your investment option. If there is, select the high growth fund. If there's no option to select the high growth fund during the application process, join the default option and then switch to the high growth option as soon as your application is completed.
- Consolidate your super. During the application process you'll have the opportunity to consolidate your super into your new high growth super fund. To do this, just give the new super fund the details of your old super fund and it'll bring over your balance for you.
- Tell your employer. When your new high growth fund is up and running, make sure to give your employer your new fund details so it can pay your super into the right fund.
Have you decided a high growth super fund isn't what you're after? Maybe one of our best super funds picks will be right for you instead.
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