How to read your super statement

man with papers

Every year, as Australians rifle through the various bits of mail they've received, they're likely to find one unique piece of paper in particular: Their superannuation statement. Your statement can be a vital piece of data regarding the performance and adequacy of your current superannuation fund, and might even inspire you to alter your superannuation strategy.

First, however, you'll actually have to be able to read and understand it. Your statement isn't necessarily the most self-explanatory document you'll ever read, so here is a quick guide for making sense of it.

Balance

This is relatively straightforward - it's the amount of money you have saved up in your super fund. Your statement is likely to list the balance in three components:

  • Preserved, meaning the part of the balance you can't claim until you reach a particular age or experience an emergency or severe hardship.
  • Restricted non-preserved, or any after-tax contributions made before July 1 1999 which you can access when you leave your employer, or meet another condition of release.
  • Unrestricted non-preserved, or the portion of your funds you can receive any time you like.
Fees

Check how much you're paying on fees. If you're keen to change providers, this will give you a good comparison point. Remember that you want as much money in your fund as possible, in order for your savings to grow. All too many Australians lose their super to fees - more than 20 per cent of their final savings, according to a Grattan Institute report from April 2014.

Investment summary

This outlines the asset allocation of your fund, showing you where your savings are invested and in what proportion. There are numerous types of investment options your fund could be spread over, like balanced, conservative, moderate or growth. You'll also know what particular assets they're invested in, such as shares, cash or property.

Insurance

You can get three kinds of insurance provided to you through your super: Life insurance, total permanent disability cover, even income protection. Reviewing your statement will allow you to see how much you're paying for premiums, and help you figure out if you should stick with your current insurance or go with a retail policy - as well as if you're adequately covered.

Beneficiaries

Your fund should allow you to designate one or more beneficiaries of a death benefit payout from what you've saved. This is an important bit of estate planning - make sure the beneficiaries listed are those you want to receive your money or, if you'd rather it go through your estate, make sure no one has been nominated.