It pays to know how your super fund rates

All industries have an awards night and the superannuation fund of the year awards were held this month.

All industries have an awards night and the superannuation fund of the year awards were held this month.

NEARLY all industries have some form of awards night. TV has the Logies, film has the Academy Awards, and superannuation has the fund of the year awards that were held earlier this month.

Given that all working Australians have contributions made on their behalf by their employers, and that if they want to have a reasonable lifestyle in retirement the performance of their super fund is vitally important, it is a shame more people are not aware of the awards or the company that decides them.

SuperRatings, started in 2002 by Jeff Bresnahan, researches and rates the industry and commercial superannuation funds.

It provides services to super funds and members. For individuals there are two levels of membership. One is free and provides rating reports on the performance of super funds and keeps members updated on super news. A gold membership costs under $80 a year, which, in addition to the basic offering, allows members to rate their super or pension fund and access many other benefits such as retirement calculators.

At the industry level, SuperRatings provides a rating and benchmarking service that helps funds monitor and improve their performance. It also has a consultancy service that helps super funds achieve better results with outsourcing functions such as administration and insurance.

SuperRatings assesses more than 300 components of a fund's activities.

A rating score is produced based on the following:

?Investment performance, risk profiles and processes.

?Fees and charges, including cost, structure and transparency.

?Administration structure and service standards.

?Advice to members, including education and financial planning.

?Trustee structure, processes and risk management.

?Insurance, including rates, options, terms and conditions.

?Overall benefits, including flexibility, choice, transparency and usability.

At the end of this process, the 300 super funds offering accumulation accounts, and the 150 funds offering pension accounts, are given a rating that ranges from platinum, for funds that offer the best value, down to those classed as having average or below average features and performance. It is this rating system that super fund members should take a keen interest in.

The process goes on through the year and culminates in the super fund of the year awards night. The 10 funds that have achieved platinum status in each category are announced, with one of these being named fund of the year in the accumulation or pension category. In addition, the super fund with the best offering in all categories is given the superannuation fund of the year award.

The top fund for providing the best accumulation account services was Telstra Super, and the fund with the best pension account was Catholic Super. The SuperRatings Fund of the Year for 2012 was Sunsuper. The 2011 winner was Australian Super.

Questions can be emailed to

Max Newnham's book, Funding your Retirement: A Survival Guide, is available in bookstores and as an e-book.

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