Super members are in a winning market despite volatility: SuperRatings

Super members are in a winning market despite volatility: SuperRatings
Super members are in a winning market despite volatility: SuperRatings

GUEST OBSERVER

Australian super members have earned returns of 117% on average since the depths of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) nine years ago, despite February producing the first negative monthly return since January 2017. Recent data also reveals the risk for members in trying to time the market over that nine-year period and the cost of potentially switching products due to a relatively short period of underperformance.

SuperRatings has reported a return of -0.3% in February for members in a balanced option fund. Over the nine years since the GFC, the median balanced option fund has delivered an average return of 9.0% per annum (representing accumulated growth of 117%). For members in growth option funds (growth assets of 77–90%), the median return has been even higher, reaching 9.9% per annum. or an accumulated 134%.

Our data also reveals that a flight to relative safety in times of volatility can have long-term effects on investment performance. If the volatility of the GFC resulted in a member switching from a relatively riskier growth option to a balanced option during the depths of the crisis in 2009, they would be approximately $17,700 worse o today (assuming a starting balance of $100,000). 

Super members are in a winning market despite volatility: SuperRatings

The lesson for superannuation members is that a focus on long-term performance is essential. While members may feel unnerved by recent volatility, it is impossible to ignore the significant gains that super funds have delivered since the start of the bull market in 2009.

February’s market correction had a negative impact on super fund returns, but when assessed within the context of long-term performance, the overall effect is negligible. Our estimate is that the median balanced option return for February was -0.3% for accumulation funds and -0.4% for pension funds. Australian shares managed to rebound from early falls, with the S&P/ASX 200 Index 90% recovered by the end of the month. Despite the recent market pullback, superannuation members have good reason to be positive.

Ater nine years, you might say the global share market rally is getting a bit long in the tooth, but this is at odds with the economic data, which is pointing to a strengthening economy.

Market corrections, while they can cause members to panic, are often a necessary check against bubbles. What the recent volatility tells us is that the market is capable of self- re flection, and that investors are focused on valuations as well as the broader economic picture.

Choice of fund matters

Looking back to the start of the bull market, there has been significant dispersion between the best and worst performing balanced funds. The worst performing fund has only managed to outperform inflation since July 2013. 

Super members are in a winning market despite volatility: SuperRatings

Super members are in a winning market despite volatility: SuperRatings

REST in top spot over 10 years

SuperRatings’ return data for January show that REST has taken first place among balanced option accumulation funds, returning 7.0% per annum. over 10 years, followed by CareSuper, which returned 6.9%. All funds within the top 10 have delivered in excess of CPI plus targets, highlighting the strength and consistency of Australia’s top performers.

Among growth funds, CareSuper was the leader, returning 7.3%, followed closely by Energy Super, which returned 7.3%. While balanced funds still represent the most popular option among members in both the accumulation and pension phase, growth option performance is becoming increasingly relevant. Since 2008, member allocation to higher growth options (including local and international shares, property, and high growth options) has risen from 8.4% to 13.6%, and SuperRatings expects that this trend will continue. 

Super members are in a winning market despite volatility: SuperRatings

Super members are in a winning market despite volatility: SuperRatings

Kirby Rappell is CEO of Super Ratings.

Tags: 
Superannuation Investment

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