Superannuation fees compared and explained
All super funds charge different fees, and you can save hundreds of dollars each year by comparing. We've also got some tips on how to reduce your super fees.
Compare super fund fees below
The right column in the table below shows you the calculated fees on a $50,000 balance. You might have more or less than this in your super, but it's a great way to compare the funds side by side to give you an idea of which charge the lowest (and highest) fees.
The super fees you may have to pay
There are a number of different superannuation fees that you may be charged, although not all fees will apply to all funds. Some of the fees that your fund charges might not be charged by other funds and vice versa. The main fees you need to worry about when comparing funds are the admin fees, investment fees and indirect fees. These will clearly be found on the fund's website and in their PDS.
Fees charged by super funds:
- The establishment fee. Some funds charge an initial fee for setting up your superannuation fund, but this isn't very common.
- Admin fees. Most funds will charge an annual admin fee in a dollar amount, plus an additional admin fee as a percentage of your balance.
- Investment fees. Standard MySuper funds and other pre-mixed funds will charge an annual investment fee as a percentage of your balance. This will vary depending on the type of investments you've selected, for example an indexed option will usually have a much lower investment fee.
- Indirect fees. A lot of funds have a fee called the indirect cost ratio (ICR), which is charged as a percentage of your balance annually. This fee is for all the indirect costs associated with managing your fund.
- Contribution fees. You could be charged a fee each time you make a contribution or payment into your fund, but this isn't that common with most default funds.
- Termination or exit fee. These are becoming rare, but some funds do still charge a set fee when you decide to leave the fund.
- Switching fees. These are charged if you change the investment options in your superannuation fund, or switch between different investment options.
- Advisory fees. This might be charged by any adviser who offers you assistance and personal advice in relation to your super fund.
- Brokerage fee. If you've selected a fund that allows you to invest directly in shares, you may need to pay a brokerage fee each time you trade.
There are additional costs and fees that may apply with your super fund, depending on how your money is invested which could include:
- Insurance premium costs
- Transaction costs relating to the selling, buying or switching of investments
- Maintenance fees relating to real property and direct investments
How to know what superannuation fees you're paying
If you're not sure what you're looking for, it can be tough figuring out what fees your super fund is charging you. Remember, the main fees you should worry about are the admin fees, investment fees and indirect costs (the ICR fee).
Here are a few ways to find out what fees your super fund is charging you.
- Use our comparison table. The table above shows you the annual fees (based on an average balance of $50,000) that the super funds charge. This is the quickest and easiest way to compare the fees.
- Call your fund. Give your fund a call, quote your membership number and ask what your total annual fees were for the last financial year. You can also ask them for a breakdown of the admin fees, investment fees and the indirect costs.
- Read the PDS. All super funds have their PDS available online on their website. If you're in the default MySuper or balanced options (which most people are), these fees need to be clearly listed in the PDS by law. The PDS will include an example of how the fees are applied based on a balance of $50,000.
- Search the website. Head to your fund's website and navigate to the fees section. You'll find a list of each investment option and the different fees charged.
- Check your statement. Log into your account online and take a look at your past few statements.
What super fees should I be paying?
Obviously with fees of any kind, the lower the better. The fees you should be paying on your super depends on the fund you're with and the type of investment option you've selected. However for most people who have their super in a MySuper product or another pre-mixed option, fees more than 1-1.5% of your balance are considered to be on the expensive side.
For example, if your balance is $50,000 and your total fees were 1% of your balance you'd have a total annual fee of $500. Fees much higher than this could be considered expensive.
Fees charged by some of the biggest super funds
Here are the annual fees charged by some of the biggest super funds in Australia.
AustralianSuper's Balanced option, which is the default MySuper fund, has annual fees of $382 based on a $50,000 balance. This includes annual admin fees of $52 and annual investment and indirect fees of 0.56%.
REST Super fees
REST Super's Core Strategy, which is the default MySuper option, has annual fees of $433 based on a $50,000 balance. This includes annual admin fees of $78 plus 0.1% and annual investment and indirect fees of 0.55%.
HostPlus Super fees
HostPlus's Balanced option, the default MySuper option, has annual fees of $606.29 based on a $50,000 balance. This includes annual admin fees of $78, plus annual investment and indirect costs of 0.98% a year.
How to minimise super fees
- 1. Change funds
The simplest way to cut down on super fees is to choose a fund that charges minimal fees. It's surprisingly quick and easy to compare fees online, so shop around to find a better deal.
Examine the fee structure of different funds, as member and administration fees could be charged as a flat annual rate or calculated as a percentage of your investment balance. There may even be a tiered fee structure in place, with lower percentages applied on higher balances, so it's wise to regularly review how much you're paying in super fees and whether there might be a better deal elsewhere.
- 2. Choose the right fund
Industry super funds, which are owned by members not shareholders, tend to charge lower fees than retail funds. Keep this in mind when comparing super funds, but remember that fee amounts and structures do vary between individual funds.
- 3. Consolidate lost super
As of 30 June 2016, ATO figures reveal that some 43% of Australians have more than one super account, which means almost half the population is paying unnecessary super fees. On the same date there were also a total of over 5.7 million lost and ATO-held superannuation accounts with a total value of just over $14 billion.
With this in mind, one of the key ways you can save on super fees is to consolidate your multiple super accounts into one account. Not only will this eliminate unnecessary fees (you will only have to pay fees on one account instead of on several accounts) but it could also help you boost your retirement savings with money you didn't even know belonged to you. To check on your super, consolidate super accounts and find lost super, login to your myGov account.
- 4. Check your level of insurance cover
One of the largest expenses that can eat away at your super balance every year is insurance premiums. Most funds offer a variety of insurances as standard, including death cover, total and permanent disability and income protection insurance. Many funds offer a default level of insurance to members, so lowering the level of cover you have can reduce fees. It's also a requirement for MySuper accounts to offer life insurance to members, so remember to opt out when you sign up for a new account.
In some cases, you may even be able to remove insurance cover from your super account altogether. However, be warned that if you're thinking of purchasing similar cover outside of your super fund, it will often be more expensive (but may also provide a higher level of cover).
- 5. Consider your investment option
Some super funds offer indexed options as an alternative to the default MySuper product and other pre-mixed products. Because an indexed option tracks an index and is often passively managed, these options often have much lower fees. However, you might prefer to stick with a fund that's actively managed - it's up to you!
If your looking to stay on top of superannuation changes, have a read of our superannuation changes guide
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