Unlike their children, houses, pets or savings, most people will be unable to tell you exactly where their superannuation is right now. Super is a critically important part of our future, but many Australians are unwilling, or unable, to keep it all in one place.
Although consolidating may seem daunting, personal finance blogger Alex Wilson from savingsguide.com.au insists it is simply a matter of “having a pen, some paper, and thirty minutes of free time”.
Here, we break down the process into four easy steps to help you get your future sorted.
STEP 1: Choose your future super fund
Pick one fund that you will deposit your super into from now on. If you don’t have an account with the company already, open one. When choosing a fund, it should suit your needs and your situation. Some things to look for are low fees, no commission and positive customer reviews.
Greg Harper, general manager advice services at CBUS, says switching funds requires someone to make “an informed decision and be aware of the right questions to ask”. These include finding out the cost of running your new fund and whether you will be charged exit fees or lose insurance benefits when leaving your old funds.
Meanwhile, Mr Wilson emphasises this is the one instance where “people should really consider seeking financial advice”. While it may cost money, speaking to an expert will help you make a smarter decision, ultimately saving you money.
STEP 2: Call the ATO
Set aside at least 30 minutes to make a phone call to the Australian Tax Office’s customer service line (13 10 20, available weekdays from 8am to 5pm). Have your tax file number at the ready and the ATO can give you a list of all providers listed under that number. Write them all down in an ordered list. Tools like the ATO’s SuperSeeker are undoubtedly useful, but speaking to a human being will give you a clearer picture of what’s out there, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
STEP 3: Contact your existing super funds
Call all the superannuation funds on your list and ask them for your account balance. Confirm whether you will be charged a fee for leaving each fund and whether you will lose any valuable insurance benefits. Once you are clear on any costs, ask the fund to send you an up-to-date statement.
STEP 4: Get a helping hand
“What people don’t realise,” Mr Wilson says, “Is that your new fund is incentivised to get your money. Why not get someone else to do the hard work?”
Give your chosen fund a call and let them know what you’re trying to do. Most funds will simply ask you to fill out a form with the details of your previous accounts. You’ll also be required to attach certified photocopies of your identification documents such as a passport and/or birth certificate. You can ask your super fund for a full list of people who can certify your proof of identification, but some of those authorised to do so include justices of the peace, Australia Post employees, police, pharmacists, doctors and solicitors.
Once you have provided the required information, the rest is up to them.
All that’s left to do is sit back, relax and start planning your retirement.