A survey to be released today by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees has found that most Australians don't really care about their retirement savings.
The finding comes just weeks after the government indicated that it might move to increase tax rates on superannuation, and the consequent uproar among many key voters. The survey also found that many people are unaware of changes that have already been legislated, such as the increase in the super guarantee to 12 per cent from the current 9 per cent.
The survey is being released today at the institutes' annual conference in Brisbane. The institute's chief executive, Tom Garcia, admits he is surprised by the lack of awareness. "You would have hoped for such a significant change, people would have been more aware," he says.
Tim Riches, the managing director of The Leading Edge, which conducted the survey, attributes the conflicting reactions to investor psychology around the pain of losing money, compared with the pleasure of winning it. This aversion to loss is explained through a general principal in behavioural economics, he says. "The emotional impact of losing $50 is about the same as gaining $100."
Of the 1515 people who took part in the online survey more than half - 52 per cent - said they were not aware of the gradual planned increase in the super guarantee to 12 per cent by 2019/2020. And only 54 per cent of people aged between 50 and 59 were aware of the increase.
The tax changes flagged by the government will only affect people on higher incomes but they are obviously the ones complaining the loudest.
"A lot of the noise we've been hearing recently has been about potential changes that are actually going to affect people with more money and higher incomes," Garcia says. "We're trying to really support the low income earners rebate [up to $500 a year]."