Rebuilding your super

There are ways to take control of your superannuation. We answer your most frequently asked questions.
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In brief

  • Members are most concerned about the future and poor investment performance.
  • They question the quality of financial advice – some readers profited by going against the experts’ advice.

The global financial crisis has decimated many Australians’ retirement savings. Members have told us they did the “right thing” by making extra superannuation contributions, only to end up losing one-third or more of the balance in a matter of months.

In the wake of such devastating losses, CHOICE readers – particularly those close to retirement – want to know what steps they can take to rebuild their nest egg or limit further damage. We’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions you’ve asked us:

To help weigh up the options, in mid-March we consulted some financial planners. Bear in mind that financial advisers should only ever be a means to an end, not an end in themselves; use the information they provide only as part of your financial education. As we highlight here, some of our readers fared best by using their own research and judgment to go against the “expert advice” provided to them.

Please note: this information was current as of May 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.

Getting advice

Super funds offer general information over the phone. For more specific advice about your situation, you might want to find a good financial planner, though last shadow shopping by both CHOICE and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) found the quality of advice provided by licensed advisers differed enormously – often for the worse. For tips on finding a good one, go to ASIC’s consumer information website Fido. At a minimum, make sure the planner has an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL), or is an authorised representative of an AFSL holder. You can check the licensee register at ASIC.

Financial planners sometimes provide a free initial consultation. The second appointment may have an hourly fee, but in most cases, financial planners are remunerated by commissions from your investments that are based on their recommendations. We want to see commissions banned as they cause unacceptable conflicts of interest.

If you’re unhappy with the advice you receive, there are avenues for redress.

  • Make an official complaint to the financial planning company.
  • If that doesn’t resolve your complaint, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (1300 780 808).
  • The adviser or company may also be a member of the Financial Planning Association, an industry group with a code of practice and a complaints investigation scheme.


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