Super - what? How to decipher your super statement and what it all means

Your super is likely to be the second biggest asset you’ll own (next to your home), so let’s show it some respect!

It’s that time of year again when your super  statement lands in your inbox or letterbox. If, like many of us, the word  superannuation makes you glaze over, we get it. Before you spot the balance and file it away, take the time to check a few other key details.


Your super is likely to be the second biggest asset you’ll own (next to your home), so let’s respect it!


5 key items to check, and why they’re important


1.     Check your personal details


Sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people have  outdated information with their super fund. Check your residential address, phone number and email address are correct. By doing so, you can ensure your super fund can contact you should they have important information to share.

Ensure you’ve supplied for Tax File Number (TFN). If not, your fund can’t accept personal contributions and you get taxed higher.

Lastly, have you nominated beneficiaries? That’s the person/s you elect to receive your super and any insurance benefit if you pass away.

Your statement will show whether you’ve nominated a beneficiary and will either say ‘nominated’ or the person’s name.

If you would like to nominate or change a beneficiary, simply contact your super fund. You have the option to make a ‘Binding Death Benefit Nomination’ which ensures your elected beneficiary receives your super assets. This decision cannot be disputed, so long as they’re a valid beneficiary under the super rules.


2.     Check your account balances


It’s important to know your account balance, but it is equally as meaningful to understand how your balance has grown over the past 12 months. Your statement will show your account’s opening and closing balance, and may even show a comparison of account balances as at 30 June, over the past few years.

You may also see some jargon on your statement referring to the different components of your account balance. Here’s what they mean:

 ·         Preserved – Can’t be accessed unless you meet a condition of release

·         Restricted  non-preserved – Can be accessed if you leave your  employer or satisfy another condition of release. This usually applies to  employment-related contributions prior to 1 July 1999

·         Unrestricted  non-preserved – Can be accessed at any time (do not  require a condition of release) but may incur tax.


Understanding how your super has grown is one thing  but do you have enough for the retirement you want?


Some super funds have a projection tool which show  how you’re tracking towards retirement (usually based on modelling by the ASFA), but many  statements do not. To better understand your position, and how you’re  tracking toward your retirement goals, have a look at the following  resources:


·         Have a  play of this MoneySmart calculator – it can project how much super you’ll  have when you retire

·         Check  out the latest stats on how much money you need in retirement

·         Have a read of this CANSTAR article which provides up-to-date information regarding how much super you need at different age bands.

·         Or book a coaching session and we’ll work out how you’re tracking and what’s the gap between where you are today and where you need to be at retirement.


3.     Check your insurance


Did you know that in most cases, you receive insurance cover automatically when you open a super account?

Most super funds provide death, total and permanent disability (TPD) and income protection cover.

Your super statement will show the insurance cover that you have, and how much you’re being charged for it.


It’s important to review your level of insurance to ensure it’s right for you and your circumstances. For example, have you  recently started a family, increased your salary, married or separated?

Life changes such as these can influence how much insurance you need.

The big question is, do you have enough money to  cover your bills, mortgage or other living expenses if something happened to you? If the answer is ‘no’, then it’s prudent to review or change your level of insurance to ensure you (and your family) are protected.

To complicate matters, the government introduced the  Protecting Your Super reforms on 1 July 2019. If your account was inactive, you may lose your insurance cover –  don’t let this happen automatically without assessing what you need.  

If you have any insurances outside of super, you may be paying twice for the same cover. If this sounds like you, consider getting advice on this.


4.     Check your investments

How your investments are performing is critical to building your super balance. Check to see what investment option/s you’ve selected, and how this option/s have performed. Although it’s interesting to see how your investment/s have performed over the past 12 months, focus on their long-term results (e.g. 7 to 10 years).

It’s important to understand how your investment return compares to the option’s benchmark and other funds that invest in a similar way.

Super funds have a variety of investment options that range from conservative (e.g. cash) to more risky (e.g. shares). It’s important to select options that are in line with the level of risk you’re  comfortable taking. This may be influenced by how much time you have before  you retire. For example, if you’re close to retirement you may wish to have a  more conservative mix, whereas if you’re younger, you may wish to have higher exposure to shares.

If you’re underwhelmed with your return, you may wish to consider changing your investment strategy (or super fund).

So, how do you do this? One option – ask the ladies at Super Fierce.


5.     Check your contributions and  transactions

Your statement provides a list of transactions, both  in and out of your super account for the previous 12 months. Transactions  should include, but are not limited to, payments from your employer  contributions, super rollovers, personal contributions, salary sacrifice  payments, government contributions (for example co-contribution payments),  investment returns or fee rebates.

Deductions may include your insurance premiums, account fees (for example administration or investment/advice charges) or advice fees.

It is illegal for your employer to not pay regular Superannuation Guarantee (SG) amounts (which just jumped up from 9.5% to 10% of your salary) into your super account. If you don’t see any transactions from your employer, contact them immediately.


Your super, your future

Only 40% of Australians  know how much super they have. That’s a lot of people not reading their annual super statement! If you’ve had more than one job, it’s likely you’ll  have more than one super account. The more accounts you have, the more money is being eroded by account fees. With $13.8 billion in lost super, there is a fair chance some of this could be yours.

Consider rolling all your super into one account.  It’s important to note that by doing so, you will lose any insurances with other super funds. So, make sure you do your research first – or seek professional help!


If you’ve read (or glazed over) this article, and feel totally confused or repelled by money matters like super – don’t put your head in the sand, let us help you.


Book a session today and we’ll unpack it together


Keep financially inspired throughout the week, follow Women Talking Finance on Instagram.



Karen Eley is a financial coach with more than 20 years’ experience as a financial adviser. Through her business, Women Talking Finance, she helps women to be confident and knowledgeable about all things finance. Karen translates complex financial concepts into simple digestible ideas.

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