It pays to know how your super fund rates

21 Oct 2011 |

Nearly all industries have some form of awards night. The TV industry has the Logies, the movie industry has the Academy Awards, and the superannuation industry has the fund of the year awards that were held on Monday this week.

Given that all working Australians have contributions made on their behalf by their employers, and that if they want to have a reasonable lifestyle in retirement the performance of their super fund is vitally important, it is a shame that more people are not aware of the awards or the company that decides them.

SuperRatings  is a company that researches and rates Australia’s industry and commercial superannuation funds. It was started in 2002 by Jeff Bresnahan whose early career was spent working for and managing superannuation funds, and then progressed to providing consulting and administration services to the superannuation industry.

SuperRatings provides services to superannuation fund members and superannuation funds.  For individuals there are two levels of membership. One that is free that provides rating reports on the performance of superannuation funds, a consolidation service, and keeps members updated on superannuation news. There is a gold membership that costs just under $80 a year, which in addition to the basic offering, allows members to rate their superannuation or pension fund plus has many other benefits such as retirement calculators.

At the industry level SuperRatings provides a rating and benchmarking service that helps super funds monitor and improve their performance. It also has a consultancy service that assists super funds to achieve better outcomes with outsourcing functions such as administration and insurance.

The ratings and the awards are divided into superannuation funds providing accumulation accounts to members and superannuation funds that offer pension accounts to members. It also rates super funds on their overall performance that leads to the super fund of the year award.

In rating superannuation funds SuperRatings assesses more than 300 components of a super fund’s activities. It does this by reviewing information generally available to the public and also through visits to superannuation funds to obtain a greater understanding of their internal workings.

A rating score is produced based on the following seven criteria:

  • ·         Investment performance, risk profiles and processes,
  • ·         Fees and charges including cost, structure and transparency,
  • ·         Administration structure and service standards,
  • ·         Advice to members including education and financial planning,
  • ·         Trustee structure, processes and risk management,
  • ·         Insurance including rates, options, terms and conditions, and
  • ·         Overall benefits including flexibility, choice, transparency and usability.

At the end of this process the 300 superannuation funds offering accumulation accounts, and the 150 funds that offer pension accounts, are given a rating of between platinum, for those funds that offer the best value for money, down to those classed as having average or below average features and performance. It is this rating system that super fund members should take a keen interest in.

The rating process goes on through the year and culminates in the superannuation fund of the year awards night. The 10 funds that have achieved platinum status in each category are announced, with one of these being named the fund of the year in the accumulation or the pension category. In addition the super fund with the best offering in all categories is given the superannuation fund of the year award.

The top fund for providing the best accumulation account services was Telstra super, and the super fund with the best pension account was Catholic super.  The SuperRatings’ Fund of the Year for 2012 was Sunsuper. In 2011 the winner was Australian super.

Questions can be emailed to

Max Newnham’s book, Funding your Retirement – A survival Guide, is available in book stores and as an eBook.


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