Understanding investment options

MoneySmart
(ASIC)

 

Your super fund invests your money for you. Most funds let you choose from a range of investment options, from conservative to growth.

It’s worth taking the time to check your options and decide what’s right for you. The options you choose can make a big difference to how your super grows.

You can find out about your fund’s investment options by checking its website or product disclosure statement (PDS).

Most funds allow you to change your super investment options online.

If you need help understanding of choosing investment options, contact your financial adviser.

Pre-mixed investment options

Growth

  • Investment mix: around 85% in shares or property, and 15% in fixed interest or cash. Or 100% in shares or property for a ‘high growth’ option.
  • Returns: Aims for higher average returns over the long term. This also means higher losses in bad years than those you would experience with lower risk options.

Balanced

  • Investment mix: around 70% in shares or property, and 30% in fixed interest and cash. Or ‘moderate’ option with 50% in shares and property.
  • Returns: Aims for reasonable returns, but less than growth funds to reduce risk of losses in bad years. Those losses usually occur less frequently than in the growth option.

Conservative

  • Investment mix: around 30% in shares and property, and 70% in fixed interest and cash.
  • Returns: Aims to reduce the risk of loss and therefore accepts a lower return over the long term. There is less chance of having a bad year than in the balanced or growth options.

Cash

  • Investment mix: 100% in deposits with Australian deposit-taking institutions or in a ‘capital guaranteed’ life insurance policy.
  • Returns: Aims to guarantee your capital and accumulated earnings cannot be reduced by losses on investments.

Ethical

This option aims to screen out investments in companies that don’t meet certain environmental, social and governance standards. An ethical option can sit anywhere on the risk spectrum — from high growth to conservative.

You might be nervous about your investments or super at the moment. But don’t make any rash decisions based on falls or gains in the markets.

Find out the steps you can take to make well-informed investment decisions.

Choose-your-own investment options

Some super funds let you choose the mix of different asset types or pick direct investments.

For example, you may favour international over Australian shares, and allocate a percentage of your funds to reflect that. Or, you might choose direct investments, such as shares, exchange traded funds or term deposits.

MySuper

If you have a MySuper account, you’ll most likely have a balanced, single diversified option.

Single diversified investment option

This is how most MySuper accounts work. Your fund puts your money in a standard mix of investments, and the investment approach stays the same for your whole life. These funds usually have a balanced or growth approach.

Lifecycle investment strategy

With this option, your fund will typically move your money from growth investments when you’re young to more conservative investments when you’re older.

Choose the right investment option

When choosing your investment option, consider:

  • your age
  • how comfortable you are with investment risk
  • how long before you will be able to access your funds

Your risk comfort level

Think about how much investment risk you’re comfortable with.

A higher growth option will have higher risk and experience more volatile returns over the short term. But it will usually achieve higher returns over the long term. A conservative option will offer lower risk but lower returns over the long term.

When you’ll access your funds

Some people choose to be more conservative with their investments as they approach retirement to reduce the risk of their balance going down. Others choose to keep their investments in growth options seeking higher returns. There is no one correct approach.

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