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Face the reality of super savings

By Robin Bowerman
Smart Investing
19th February 2008
Principal & Head of Retail, Vanguard Investments Australia

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has produced some fascinating figures that starkly illustrate why Australians should not rely on superannuation guarantee (SG) contributions to provide what many people would consider an adequate standard of living in retirement.

This is the unfortunate reality even for those with many years ahead of them in the workforce. (See Smart Investing, February 14, for more discussions on the latest ASFA research on super savings.)

Say you have a current salary of $75,000 have 30 years to go until retirement.

ASFA calculates that, based on certain assumptions, you will need to make voluntary contributions of 14% above the 9% SG contributions to reach have an annual income in retirement of $45,000 a year in today's dollars - even when including a part age pension.

And a fund member, again earning $75,000 a year, with 35 years until retirement will need to contribute 10% a year above 9% SG contributions to reach an income of $45,000 in today's dollars. Again this includes a part age pension.

The assumptions used by ASFA for its calculation should be carefully noted, particularly as personal circumstances can differ so much from individual to individual.

It is assumed that the members have no super savings at the start of the periods until retirement (30 and 35 years). And it is assumed that the super funds earn 7% a year after taxes and investment management fees.

The voluntary contributions used in the calculations are by salary-sacrifice and subject to the standard 15% contributions tax.

The key message is not to make the mistake of believing that SG contributions are enough to adequately save for your retirement. Voluntary contributions should be made even if you have 40 years or more until eventually leaving the workforce.

ASFA says that a married couple with their own home would need an income of more than $45,000 a year for a standard of living that many would find acceptable. It tags this as a "comfortable" lifestyle for retirees.

This standard of living would require super savings of about $500,000 a year plus a part age pension, according to ASFA.




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