Returns for median super funds declined last month for the first time in nine months, as local shares and property securities fell, but the funds still look likely to report double-digit returns for the financial year.
The average growth fund - the most common super category, with growth assets of about 77 per cent - fell 0.4 per cent last month, Morningstar's 24-fund survey found.
Peter Gee, research products manager at Morningstar Australasia, said the 2.2 per cent fall in the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index and 2.7 per cent fall in Australian property securities last month drove returns down, after a run of positive results earlier this year and throughout last year.
The average return for the three months to March 31 was 5 per cent for multi-sector growth funds, and returns for the financial year to date averaged 14.6 per cent. The year-to-date return was slightly lower, at 12.3 per cent.
Alex Dunnin, chief researcher at financial services research group Rainmaker, said returns of 12 per cent to 14 per cent looked likely for the financial year, because of the sharemarket rally that began late last year.
"Returns are back to near record levels, the funds are innovating, there's a lot of money pouring in," Mr Dunnin said.
But it has been a choppy few years. The multi-sector growth category produced a 13.3 per cent gain last year, Morningstar has said, rebounding from a 1.9 per cent decline the previous year. In 2010, there was a 4 per cent rise.
The best overall super returns, of about 15 per cent, were recorded in 1997 and 2007, Mr Dunnin said.
Morningstar said the returns were mixed over a longer period. The average three-year return for the multi-sector growth category was 5.8 per cent; over five years it fell to 3.2 per cent; and over 10 years it widened to 6.8 per cent.
The Legg Mason Growth Fund was the strongest performer across three months (up 8.7 per cent); the financial year to date (24.4 per cent); and one year (19.1 per cent.)
In the longer term, the REST Core fund outperformed. Its three-year return of 8 per cent led the pack, and it had the second-best performance for five- and 10-year returns, at 5.8 per cent and 8.4 per cent.
Schroders had the strongest five-year return at 6 per cent, and the highest 10-year return at 8.6 per cent.
The other super categories were weaker, with only multi-sector conservative funds - with an average 58.5 per cent in cash - reporting a positive monthly result, up 0.1 per cent.
Multi-sector moderate funds - with 62 per cent in defensive assets - were flat.
Equity world/Australia funds, multi-sector aggressive funds, and multi-sector balanced funds fell.