Insights Edition 61, Winter 2017 - Article One

Understanding Your Super and Pension Statements 

We’re not all financial experts, but sometimes it feels like we’re expected to be – especially when each super or pension statement arrives.

Couple trying to decipher the statements

So if you’d like to understand yours better, here’s how to make sense of all the finance-speak.

YOUR SUPER STATEMENT

Here’s a breakdown of what your statement may look like if you’re in a typical accumulation-style super fund. But if your super is set up differently – for example, if your money is in a defined-benefits scheme or a wrap account – your statement may show different types of information. So if you have any questions about your super statement, speak to your financial adviser.

Balance and transaction summary

The first thing most people look for when they get their statement is their super balance. This shows how much money you have in your account and whether it’s grown since your last statement. You’ll also see a breakdown of all the amounts that have been added to your account (credits) and taken out (debits) during the statement period.

Your credits include Super Guarantee payments from your employer plus any amounts you’ve salary sacrificed or rolled over from another fund. Credits also include any after-tax contributions you’ve made, along with things like government payments or contributions from your spouse, as well as the earnings on your investments.

Your debits consist of any lump sum withdrawals you’ve made, plus any amounts taken out by your super fund for account fees and insurance premiums, or negative returns on your investments. They also include any tax your fund has paid on your behalf (usually 15% of your contributions).

How and where your money is invested

Your statement indicates how much of your money is invested in different asset classes such as cash, fixed interest, property and shares. This is shown as either a percentage of your total balance or as a dollar value. Your individual rate of return says how much your investments have earned overall since your last statement.

Your statement may also summarise the expected annual return rates on these investments over a longer period – for instance 3, 5 or 10 years. Remember that these aren’t your actual returns; they’re provided so you can formulate a long term investment strategy.

Your financial adviser can help you understand the growth potential of different assets and tailor the right investment mix so you can meet your financial goals.

Insurance, premiums and beneficiaries

Many super funds offer their members personal insurance, which typically covers the insured member against death or total and permanent disablement. If you have this cover, you’ll see the amount you’re insured for and the amount that’s been taken out of your super account to pay for the insurance premiums.

If you haven’t told your super fund that you’d like a specific level of cover, you’re probably getting their default cover. But be aware that this might not be enough for your needs, so check with your financial adviser.

The beneficiaries listed on your statement are the people who you’ve chosen to receive your super and insurance benefits if you pass away. If you haven’t nominated any beneficiaries (or if you have but your nomination isn’t a ‘binding’ or ‘non-lapsing’ nomination), your super might not be distributed according to your wishes when you die. In this case, it’s a good idea to speak to your financial adviser so they can guide you through the nomination process.

YOUR PENSION STATEMENT

If you have an account-based pension, the following information will likely be shown on your pension statement. Bear in mind that statements for other types of income streams might provide different information – so if you’re unsure about anything on your statement, have a chat with your financial adviser.

Balance and transaction summary

Your account balance shows how much you have left in your pension account. Near this, you should see the value of each pension payment and the date the next one is due – or else, how often they’re paid (for example, weekly or monthly). Your statement may also explain how you can change your pension payments if needed.

The transaction summary is a list of all the money going in (credits) and coming out (debits) of your pension account. So, your credits would include any money you’ve rolled into your pension account, plus the earnings on your investments. Your debits would include fees and taxes, your regular pension payments, any lump sums you’ve taken out and any negative returns on your investments.

How and where your money is invested

Investment structures can be complicated, so different funds may choose to simplify this information in different ways. You should be able to easily see how and where your money is invested – for example, how much you have in defensive assets and growth assets.

If your statement provides more detail, it will probably indicate how much you have invested in each of the main asset classes: cash, fixed interest, property and shares. This may be expressed either as a percentage or a dollar amount.


Need more guidance?
Remember that your financial adviser should be the first port of call if you’re uncertain about any part of your statement. They can explain anything you don’t understand, so you can take control of your finances and make your money work harder for you.

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