*Past performance data in the table above is for the period ending June 2023.
Retail super funds in Australia
Many retail funds are owned by the big 4 banks and other major investment or insurance companies which are often listed on a public stock exchange. They do make a profit from managing the fund's administration and investments, which is distributed among shareholders.
Retail super funds are often often by a major bank in addition to a range of other financial products and services, including insurance products.
Examples of retail super funds:
- BT Super (Westpac)
- MLC Super (NAB)
- Colonial First State Super (Commonwealth Bank)
- OnePath Super (ANZ Bank)
Retail super fund versus industry super fund
The key difference between retail and industry super funds is how they're owned and managed, and what they do with their profits. While industry super funds are known as 'profit-for-members' funds, retail super fund profits are allocated to shareholders. Industry funds, in comparison, put all profits back into the fund. This is distributed to members of the fund, as well as used for things like marketing the fund to attract new members.
Retail funds are typically owned by big banks and investment firms which offer a wide range of financial products and services. Industry funds, on the other hand, exist purely as a super fund. Industry funds were originally created and owned by Unions so often are aligned to a particular industry, however most are open to everyone now.
Are retail funds more expensive?
Typically yes, retail super funds do charge higher fees than industry super funds. Retail super funds have been reducing their fees in recent years to better compete with the fees charged by industry funds, but on average their fees remain higher.
A report by Rainmaker Group in October 2021 revealed the difference in fees across the board. "Retail fund admin fees were 3.5 times that of not-for-profit funds in 2010. This ratio has now halved but remains at 2.0 times," the report stated.
However, although retail super funds still charge higher fees on average, they do offer low-cost MySuper options as their default option for new members. When looking at MySuper products only, the fees are almost the same on average between both industry and retail funds.
Low-fee retail super fund options
Here's some of the retail super funds with the lowest fees:
- Bendigo MySuper
- Virgin Money Super
- Suncorp Everyday Super
- AMG Super
- AMIST Super
What are the features of a retail fund?
- Retail super funds are open to everyone
- They have a wide range of investment portfolios available to choose between
- They may be recommended by financial planners
- They are usually accumulation funds, not defined benefit funds. In other words, your super balance depends on the contributions you and your employer make to the fund.
- They often charge mid to high fees, but now some are offering low-fee MySuper products too
- Companies may want to retain some of the profits, which could mean lower returns for you
- You don't need to work in a particular industry to join a retail fund
- Retail funds often offer options for financial advice about your super and other finances
How do I compare retail super funds?
Here are the features to compare:
Look at long term returns that span about five to 10 years. It's better to look at the long term returns as super is a long term investment.
Aim for low fees.
While retail funds charge higher fees on average, they often offer low-cost MySuper options as their default product.
Retail funds often offer lots of different investment options, so make sure you look at these as well as the default option.
Insurance is generally cheaper if you get it within superannuation, but it's best to check if it adequately covers your needs.
Do you prefer checking your fund online or would you prefer using the phone to speak to a real person? Does the fund offe an app?
How do I apply for a retail fund?
The process to join a retail super fund is the same as any other super fund. All you need to do is head to the fund's website and start the online application form. The application form should take you around 10-20 minutes to complete, and you'll need to provide the following bits of information:
- Your full name, date of birth and contact information
- Your Australian residential address
- Your phone number and email address
- Your tax file number (TFN)
- Your chosen investment option (if you want to invest in something other than the default MySuper option) and insurance cover
- Details of your existing super fund if you'd like to consolidate your super
Once your application has been completed successfully, you'll receive your membership details by email. You can then give these to your employer so they can start paying your superannuation guarantee payments into your new fund.
Compare different types of super funds
While a retail super fund might have some beneficial features, you may want to consider all the different super fund options before committing to one. Compare the different types of super funds available in Australia below to determine whether a retail super fund is the best option for your superannuation needs.
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