Who Regulates Superannuation in Australia? | finder.com.au

Who Regulates Superannuation in Australia?

Regulation Bodies of Super in Australia

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In June 2017, there were around 600,000 superannuation funds operating in Australia, the vast majority (596,516) of which were self-managed super funds (SMSFs). Those funds manage a combined total of more than $2.3 trillion in assets, helping Australians of all ages save for their retirement.

All of those super funds operate under regulations devised by two Acts of Parliament – the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 and the Financial Services Reform Act 2002. Employer contributions made to their employee's superannuation fund are regulated by the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992.

Aware Super is an industry fund open to all Australians and is named a tobacco-free fund by Tobacco Free Portfolios.

Aware Super's default MySuper product invests your super in a pre-mixed Growth fund until you’re 60, then it’ll switch to Balanced.

Choosing a super fund

Superannuation is designed to ensure that you can live out your retirement years in comfort. With regular super contributions from your employer, and perhaps some of your own voluntary contributions to further boost your balance, you can build a large nest egg to help you enjoy a secure retirement. You can also enjoy a range of tax benefits along the way and the peace of mind that comes with holding insurance cover through super.

However, before choosing a super fund, make sure you compare a range of superannuation providers to find the fund that offers the best mix of account features, investment options and affordability for your needs.

Name Product Last 1 year performance Last 3 years performance Last 5 year performance Annual fees on $50k balance
AustralianSuper - Pre-mixed, Balanced option
AustralianSuper is an award-winning industry super fund and the largest super fund in Australia. The Balanced fund invests in a mix of different assets like shares, property and cash.
Australian Ethical Super Balanced
Certified by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.
Australian Ethical seeks to invest in companies that have a positive impact on the planet, people and animals, such as renewable energy and healthcare while avoiding investments in coal, oil, tobacco and gambling.
Aware MySuper Life Cycle Growth
Aware Super is a not-for-profit fund with more than 750,000 members. The MySuper product invests your super in a pre-mixed Growth fund until you’re 60, then it’ll switch to Balanced.
Spaceship GrowthX
This is a high-risk investment option that aims to deliver high returns over the long term.
Spaceship's Growth X fund invests heavily in Australian and international shares, with a focus on technology stocks. Performance figures and fees supplied by Spaceship, not Chant West.
QSuper Lifetime
QSuper is one of the largest member-owned funds in Australia. The QSuper Lifetime fund adjusts your investments each 7-10 years as you get older, so you're not taking on too much risk.
Virgin Money Super - Lifestage Tracker
Virgin Money Super's Lifestage Tracker invests in a range of different assets in line with your age, reducing your risk as you get older, and has some of the lowest fees in the market.
HESTA Balanced Growth
HESTA is an industry super fund for the health and community services sector and open to all Australians. The Balanced Growth fund invests in a mix of asset classes without taking on too much, or too little, risk.
Sunsuper Lifecycle Balanced
Sunsuper is an award-winning super fund with more than 1.4 million members. Its Lifecycle Balanced option invests your super in a mix of growth assets, and reduces your risk when you're near retirement.
LUCRF MySuper Balanced
LUCRF Super is an industry super fund open to all Australians with 11 different investment options available. Its default MySuper Balanced option is a simple, diversified portfolio designed to suit most members.
Australian Catholic Super Lifetime - Grow
A Catholic super fund open to all Australians and designed for people working in Catholic education, healthcare or aged care.The Lifetime One fund option changes your investment mix as you get older.
Verve Super Balanced
Verve Super is an ethical super fund tailored for women. It seeks to invest in companies making a positive impact, such as renewable energy and women in leadership, while avoiding those that cause harm, such as fossil fuels, tobacco and guns.

Compare up to 4 providers

The information in the table is based on data provided by Chant West Pty Ltd (AFSL 255320) which is itself supplied by third parties. While such information is believed to be accurate, Chant West does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such information. Chant West’s Financial Services Guide is available at https://www.chantwest.com.au/financial-services-guide . Finder offers no guarantees or warranties about the data and we recommend that users make their own enquiries before relying on this information. Performance, fees and insurance data is based on each fund's default MySuper product. Where the performance, fees and insurance data for the MySuper fund vary according to the member's age, results for individuals between 40-49 years of age have been shown. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

*Past performance data is for the period ending December 2020.

Super fund or SMSF?

SMSFs, or self-managed super funds, are an alternative vehicle allowing Australians to save towards their retirement. Rather than signing up to an existing super fund and having your savings invested on your behalf, you and up to three other individuals can choose to set up your own retirement savings fund, in which you have control over your own investment decisions and assets.

There are costs associated with setting up and running an SMSF, so it's important to consider whether this type of structure is right for you. For an in-depth look at the steps and considerations involved in setting one up, consult our ultimate guide to SMSFs.

Earn interest on your SMSF cash balance with a SMSF savings account

Data updated regularly
Name Product Maximum Variable Rate p.a. Standard Variable Rate p.a. Bonus Interest p.a. Fees Interest Earned
AMP SuperEdge Saver Account
New customers can earn an introductory rate of 0.85% p.a. for 6 months, reverting to an ongoing variable rate of 0.65% p.a. Earn interest on your SMSF funds.
This account is for SMSF trustees to access their SMSF cash balance, to make payments and investments, and to receive income to the one account.
This account is for SMSF trustees to access their SMSF cash balance, to make payments and investments, and to receive income to the one account.
AMP SuperEdge Cash Account
Gain easy access to your funds while earning a competitive rate of interest with the AMP SuperEdge Cash Account.

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The five regulatory bodies governing super in Australia

There are five separate bodies that supervise Australian super funds to ensure that they comply with the relevant legislation. These regulatory bodies are:

1. The Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT)

The SCT operates under the auspices of the Superannuation (Resolution of Complaints) Act 1993. This Act outlines the process for dealing with any complaints about superannuation.

An independent dispute resolution body, the SCT offers a free and easily accessible alternative to the court system. It can deal with complaints about the decision and conduct of:

  • The trustees of a regulated superannuation fund
  • People acting on the trustee's behalf
  • Insurers in relation to insurance policies provided through super funds

The SCT formally reviews complaints and can then provide a remedy to any adverse impact you have suffered.

2. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

The ATO is charged with ensuring that SMSFs comply with all the necessary rules and regulations. It also has the responsibility of ensuring the correct taxation is applied to all superannuation savings held in those funds.

3. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)

ASIC's role is to protect consumer rights in the financial services sector, including superannuation. It enforces the Corporations Act 2001 which regulates the conduct and disclosure obligations of superannuation trustees to their fund members.

4. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)

APRA is charged with supervising regulated superannuation funds (other than SMSFs). It reviews each fund's compliance with the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth), ensuring that those funds are prudently managed at all times.

5. The Department of Human Services (DHS)

The DHS is responsible for the administration of applications from superannuation fund members for the early release of super on compassionate grounds.

Superannuation policy

The Australian Treasury’s policy advice on superannuation falls under three broad categories.

  • Retirement income policy. Treasury advises on retirement income policy, which includes the objectives, adequacy and overarching framework and design of Australia's superannuation system. It is also responsible for the modelling and analysis of government policy's impact on households as well as the financial consequences of demographic tendencies and the country's ageing population.
  • Prudential policy. The Australian Treasury works closely with APRA to advise the Australian Government on the prudential regulation of superannuation. APRA’s role is to make sure that trustees are aware to their responsibilities to members and that they manage funds in the best interests of those members.
  • Consumer Protection. Treasury also advises the Government about consumer protection for superannuation fund members. Treasury also works closely with ASIC, which promotes informed participation for consumers in the financial system, and oversees the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.

The two acts of parliament overseeing superannuation in Australia

1. Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993

This is the key piece of legislation that outlines how superannuation funds can operate. It sets out:

Trustee responsibilities
  • To act honestly in all matters
  • To exercise the same degree of care, skill and diligence as an ordinary prudent person would exercise when investing money
  • To keep the fund's assets separate from other assets
  • To act in the best interests of fund members
  • To develop and implement an investment strategy
  • To ensure sufficient reserves to pay member’s benefits
  • To provide fund members with access to certain information
Record-keeping responsibilities
  • An accurate account or documentation should be provided at all times
  • Make sure that all accounts are accurate and properly noted
  • Keep records of meetings and agendas that have transpired among trustees
  • Lodge an annual return to APRA
  • Get the accounts and audited every year
Investment strategies

Under this category, the Superannuation Industry Act advises the trustee to consider:

  • The risks and returns of all investments after formulating the objectives and strategies of the funds
  • The mix of investments included in the fund's portfolio
  • The fund's cash flow requirements
  • The need for the fund to meet any current or potential future liabilities

2. The Financial Services Reform Act 2002

This Act has a broad scope and aims to provide the finance industry with a certain level of standardisation. It determines that a superannuation fund trustee must be licensed before being allowed to operate a fund. In short, the Financial Services Reform Act 2002 performs the following roles:

  • The provision for licensing of individuals who provide financial services or products, known as "dealers".
  • Establishes a standard of conduct for financial services providers, including what constitutes misconduct in regards to the management of superannuation funds.
  • Oversees training programs for agents who represent dealers.
  • Sets out the level of information that must be provided on financial products sent to fund members and prospective fund members.

Fund trustees must conform to strict rules

If you're a member of a superannuation fund, the fund's trustee is bound by law to always make decisions in the best interest of all fund members. He or she must always act prudently and honestly. Your fund trustee must have demonstrated to the appropriate regulatory body that he or she is a fit and proper person for the job.

There will be a trust deed that outlines the fund rules that the trustee must also comply with, as well as the above legislation. If the trustee fails to properly carry out his or her obligations in any way, they may be penalised or even removed from their office as trustee.

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    Mellz10May 16, 2018

    My ex partner and father of our young child recently passed away, I would like to make a claim on behalf of our child for my ex partners superannuation and or death benefit to be placed in a trust for when my child is an adult. However I do not know what super find my ex partner was with? How can I go about making a claim for my child in this scenario? Or is it not possible?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezMay 16, 2018Staff

      Hello Mellz10,

      Thank you for your comment.

      You may need to contact Department of Human Services that handles the administration of applications from superannuation fund members. Another is check the statements from your ex partner’s stuff.


    Default Gravatar
    AngeloJune 10, 2017

    Please explain me and recommend what I need to do. My Company does not transfer the contribution to my Super account. I asked few times and they told me the Management will make decision whether Company would pay or not.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchJune 10, 2017Staff

      Hi Angelo,

      Thanks for reaching out to us.

      I’m sorry to hear about your company.

      Your employer has to pay contributions to your super and if, for any reason, you believe that this may not be happening, you should make enquiries and find out from your employer what the situation is.

      Your employer, like all other employers, will need to report back to the Australian Tax Office with regards to all employee contributions that have been made to superannuation funds. These accounts may be audited and if your employer is found to have failed to make contributions and interest and administrative fees can be charged on any outstanding contributions.

      Employees who are still concerned about whether contributions are being made, even after speaking to their employers, can request an investigation from the Australian Tax Office.

      Please feel free to read more about super funds through our website.

      Hope this information helped.

      Best regards,

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