Protecting your superannuation
Here's how to protect your super and make sure you're not losing your retirement savings to unnecessary fees and charges.
Your superannuation is the main way of saving for retirement. Given the importance of your super, it's important to make sure it's protected and be sure that it's in good hands. Luckily, the Australian superannuation sector is heavily regulated.
Protecting Your Super legislation
In 2019 the government introduced new legislation called the 'Protecting Your Super package. This legislation was introduced to try an stop young people, and people with low super balances, from having their super eaten away by fees and charges.
Here's what's included in the legislation, and why:
Inactive super accounts closed
If your super account balance is less than $6000 and hasn't received a contribution for 16 months it will be deemed as 'inactive'. If your super is deemed as inactive the money will be sent to the ATO and the ATO will try and track down your current super fund instead, where it'll send the money. Then, your inactive account will be closed. This is to prevent your super being eaten away by fees if you've since opened a new account and forgotten about it.
Inactive insurance cancelled
If your account is inactive (that is, hasn't received a contribution for 16 months) the fund will also need to cancel your insurance and stop charging you insurance fees.
Cap on annual fees
If your super balance is less than $6000 there will also be an annual cap on the annual fees, so they can't be more than 3% of your account balance. Again, this is to prevent your balance being erroded by fees while you might not be working, earning a low income or taking time out of the workforce.
However, annual fees of 3% is still very high, and you should be looking for a super fund that has fees less than 1.5% of your account balance.
No exit fees
Super funds are no longer allowed to charge you an exit fee if you want to leave the fund. You can change super funds at any time, with no fee to do so.
Your super fund will be 'stapled' to you and come with you from job to job. Previously, you could open a new super fund every time you started a new job. This would result in many people having several super funds in their name, and several sets of fees to pay. Now when you start a new job you will take your fund with you, unless you want to switch.
Common questions regarding the safety of superannuation
Can money from your superannuation fund be used by your employer?
If you are concerned about your employer being able to use money from your superannuation fund, don't be. The money that is accumulated in these funds is held in trust, which means that it is not available for your employer to use.
What if your employer goes out of business?
There is no need to worry about losing your superannuation in the event that your employer goes out of business. Your super fund will be protected even if your employer has to cease operations. Super is completely separate from your employer, and the money is managed by the super fund.
If the economy is bad, will I lose all my super?
Your super is one big investment portfolio. So yes, when the sharemarket is down this means your super will be too. However, super funds are very diversified and invest in a lot of different things, not just shares. Your super is also invested in things like property, infrastructure, commodities like Gold and Silver and private investments. This helps to minimise your losses as while one market might be down, another market will be up. Another thing to remember is super is a long term investment. While you might have some years of poor performance due to the economy, over the long term it'll keep going up.
Tips for protecting your super
- Keep your account log in details secret and don't share these publicly
- Check your payslips regularly to ensure your employer is paying the correct amount of super into your fund
- Check your superannuation statements regularly to ensure you're not being overcharged any incorrect fees
- Lastly, compare super funds to make sure you're not paying more in fees than you need to be.
Compare your super options today
More guides on Finder
Use our free superannuation calculator to see your projected retirement balance, and how this could change by switching funds.
Spouse super contributions
Spouse super contributions allow you to grow your partner’s super balance and also save money on tax. Here’s how spouse super contributions work.
Superannuation changes 2023
Here are all the changes that are happening to super this year, and how they’ll affect your superannuation balance.
What is superannuation?
Superannuation is the main way of saving for your retirement in Australia. Your superannuation is one big investment portfolio in your name that's managed for you by your super fund.
AustralianSuper vs Australian Retirement Trust (formerly Sunsuper)
Trying to decide between AustralianSuper and Sunsuper? We've compared their fees, investment options, performance and extras side by side to help you choose.
How to change super funds in 4 steps
Here’s what you need to know about changing super funds including how to do it, the fees that apply, how long it takes and the pros and cons of switching.
HESTA superannuation | Performance, features and fees
An industry super fund with all the profits benefitting members, several investment options to choose from and low fees.
Super co-contribution: What is the government co-contribution? (2023)
Find out if you're eligible for the government's co-contribution scheme, potentially receiving up to $500 for making personal after-tax contributions.
When can I access my super?
There are 3 ways you can access your super. The age you need to be to access your super will depend on when you were born.
How to find lost super
If you've held a super fund for a while, you may have lost super that you don't even know about. Read on to find out how to recover your lost super.
Ask an Expert