Updates about Coronavirus & our responses

As a result of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, it's a good idea to keep an eye on this page, which we’ll be updating regularly with information about investments, our services, government announcements and your super or pension.

Investment updates

Keep in mind that all information on this page is for general information only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the information and its appropriateness, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. You should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Reference Guides relating to Accumulate Plus or Retirement Access before making any decision about whether to acquire or continue to hold the product. You should also consider seeking professional financial advice before finalising any decisions that may affect your financial future.

Update: 26 March 2020

Again we would like to express our thoughts and concerns for those who are personally affected by COVID-19. The emerging impact the virus is having on human life globally is confronting for all of us and should always be the first and foremost concern. These are undoubtedly some of the most extreme, challenging conditions this generation has faced, both socially and economically.

As guardians of our members’ retirement savings, we fully appreciate your concerns about the effect of COVID-19 on your benefits. To help manage these concerns, we continue to keep you updated on your super through these challenging times.

What has happened in markets?

Most of us are aware of the continued impact COVID-19 is having on the domestic and global economies. The threat of the virus has caused disruption to society and drastic (but necessary) measures implemented to curb its spread. We will see considerable reductions to economic growth and business activity in the short to medium term. A growing acceptance of this reality and continued uncertainty has manifested itself within investment markets in recent weeks.

Sharemarkets continue to exhibit strong volatility and sharp downturns with no discerning differences between individual company circumstances and impacts. Even assets usually considered to be safer havens than others, such as bonds, have experienced extreme levels of volatility.

Over the last week, historic levels (and forms) of economic intervention from Governments and Central Banks have restored some levels of stability in the short-term. We hope to see the influence of these measures continue to provide more economic stability as time goes on.

It is worth remembering that markets are forward looking and assets at this time may have priced in much of the expected impact. However, the gross uncertainty that surrounds many aspects of COVID-19 means it is highly difficult if not impossible to judge whether assets are indeed priced to reflect this.

As the virus continues its rapid spread globally and nationally in an unprecedented fashion, it is still extremely unclear how and when disruption to economies will start to slow down and some level of ‘normality’ is restored.

How have your returns been affected?

While we still encourage members to focus on longer-term returns, and remind you that past performance should not be seen as a reliable indicator of future performance, we appreciate you may be keen to understand our fund’s performance during these challenging times.

You will have no doubt heard reporting about the significant drops in share markets throughout February and March. The Australian share market has dropped in value by about -30% since the start of the calendar year. The impact this sharp drop has had on our diversified (pre-mixed) options has been cushioned, thanks to the well-diversified nature of those options. For example, our Balanced (MySuper) option experienced a drop in returns of less than half this amount over the same period. Our diversified options are constructed in a manner to reduce exposure and increase resilience to volatility, like that being experienced in recent times.

Please consider how your investment option(s) have performed over periods longer than just the recent downturn. In the period 30 June 2019 to 20 March 2020, our Balanced (MySuper) option has returned about -7.5%, and -4.1% over the one-year period up to 20 March 2020.*

* Returns stated here are based on actual unit prices at 20 March 2020 for the Balanced (MySuper) option in Accumulate Plus, calculated after the deduction of investment fees, asset-based administration fees and any applicable taxes. Past investment performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

While negative returns are not what we want for our members, the returns quoted (relative to the alarming drops in the share market) demonstrate the value of diversification and how short-term volatility can be smoothed out over longer periods.

Some investment fundamentals to consider

When considering your super investments, we would encourage you to bear in mind some key investment principles:

  • Superannuation is a long-term investment. While volatility occurs in the short to medium term, we expect this to occur through an economic cycle (notwithstanding this situation is extreme) and history has shown that markets eventually recover.
  • Timing the market is highly difficult, even for professionals. Withdrawing from your account or switching out of an investment option during a time of lower or negative returns means you may lock in the value of any losses and may miss out on the opportunity to recover if markets turnaround.
  • When making any decisions in regard to your super that may affect your financial future, particularly with this recent market volatility, it’s important to consider talking to an expert who can help you. To find out more about help and advice options available to you as a member, visit oursuperfund.com.au/advice.

 

Update: 11 March 2020

Before considering the potential impacts of COVID-19 from an investments perspective, we're aware this may be a difficult and upsetting time for anyone directly affected by the virus itself. While the effect it has on investments and our members’ benefits is important to us, the direct impact of the virus on human life is always forefront in our thoughts.

While COVID-19 infection rates have declined significantly in China, the number of infections outside China has continued to increase. This has contributed to continued volatility and reductions in equity markets. Throughout these last few weeks, other asset classes such as fixed income have performed well, reducing some of the impact of the downturn on our pre-mixed options and demonstrating the value of a well-diversified portfolio.

It's worth noting we maintain our belief in the value of active management and that highly skilled managers can identify investment opportunities in certain market environments. During a sustained market downturn such as this, some of our active managers may tentatively look to identify and capitalise on some specific opportunities where they believe high quality assets can be obtained for our members at attractive prices.

In terms of outlook, it has become increasingly likely that domestic and global GDP levels will be impacted in the short term, and as long as uncertainty around COVID-19 persists, volatility in equity markets is likely to continue. Having said this we, and our advisers, maintain conviction in our long term outlook and the strategic positioning of the portfolio. We don't anticipate structurally changing the composition of our portfolios at the present time in direct reaction to the virus outbreak. As long-term investors, we expect to experience intermittent market volatility throughout the cycle. We believe our diversified investment options are well-balanced and diversified to weather most financial storms reasonably well without threatening members’ long-term investment objectives. Considering the uncertainty of the situation, we believe it'is difficult and potentially counter-productive to make any specific predictions or knee-jerk shifts to our investment strategy at this time.

In considering any investment switching, we would encourage our members to maintain a similar perspective and remember that superannuation is a long-term investment. Timing the market based on short-term predictions is highly difficult, even for the professionals - switching investments during a time of lower returns means you may lock in the value of any losses and may miss the opportunity to recover in the (high) likelihood that markets recover. Although COVID-19 and other significant macro-economic events will affect returns in the short term, we expect investments to recover through the cycle and over the long term.

Along with our advisers and investment managers, we continue to monitor the situation closely and to assess any longer-term potential impacts, and inform future positioning within our portfolios.

 

Posted: 28 February 2020

As the Coronavirus (covid-19) has continued to evolve, global equity markets have experienced significant falls over recent days.

Although there are various opinions on how coronavirus will develop, it remains uncertain how long it will last and how far it may spread. It has however become clear that the progression of the spread and attempts to contain it have affected, and may continue to affect, economic activity, particularly in China over the short term.

Given this uncertainty, there is a risk of continued volatility in markets in the short term, until such time there is greater clarity over the threat and trajectory of the virus.

The impact that any such short-term market volatility has on our members’ account balances will vary, depending on the investment option(s) that apply to your account. We would however encourage members to remember that short-term volatility is expected to occur intermittently over the investment cycle and that you should maintain a longer-term outlook when considering investment objectives.

It is important to note that our diversified investment options in Accumulate Plus and Retirement Access - Conservative, Moderate, Balanced (MySuper) and Growth - are constructed to reduce members’ exposure to sharp downfalls in any particular scenario or market. We achieve this in part by ensuring our options are well diversified across asset classes and investment strategies, with an aim of meeting investment objectives for our members over the long term.

When assessing the short-term coronavirus volatility, we remain confident in our long-term outlook and comfortable with the current strategic positioning of our portfolios, and therefore do not expect to make any material short-term portfolio changes in response.

Having said this, our investment team and trustee board, along with our advisers and investment managers, will continue to closely monitor the situation to understand and assess any longer-term potential impacts, and inform future positioning within our portfolios.

Resources for more information

Fund & service updates

Contacting us

Due to significant enquiries our contact centre is currently receiving, both in calls and via email, you're likely to experience extended wait times. We apologise this inconvenience and remain committed to helping members.

In the meantime, our website provides information, resources and self-service options for members. We encourage you to use our web search facility before calling.

Accessing your account online

Our secure online portals have access to all your important account details. Log into your account via oursuperfund.com.au/login to check your account balance, view past transactions and statements, or update some of your personal details.

For Accumulate Plus and Retirement Access members, you need your Online Identity Number (OIN) – if you don’t know your OIN, you can retrieve it from the login screen by providing a few details about your account and entering a security code that is sent to your linked mobile phone number. Alternatively, your OIN is shown at the top of a recent benefit statement.

Investment switch transactions

You can switch investment options for your super or pension account in the following ways:

Any switch transaction received online or by form before our transaction cut-off time of 3pm (AEST/AEDT) on a NSW bank business day is processed using the unit price determined for that day.

Important! If you’re considering switching your investment option(s) or withdrawing super in cash, think about your long-term goals and objectives, risk profile and your timeframes beforehand. Even if you’re heading into retirement, consider if you’ll be keeping your account invested for the longer term, say 10+ years, where your account may have the opportunity to ride out shorter-term volatility. Switching to a more conservative option when markets have already fallen may mean you lock in investment losses and may miss potential market rebounds. The following resources are available to assist you:

Insurance cover and pandemics

Our insurance policies for Accumulate Plus include a clause related to pandemic or epidemic illness. If our insurer advises us that they are invoking this clause with regard to Coronavirus (COVID-19), the exclusion only applies where your death or terminal illness is related directly or indirectly to the illness, and occurs within 30 days of your cover commencing or increasing. The pandemic or epidemic illness exclusion doesn’t apply to Total and Permanent Disablement or Salary Continuance cover in Accumulate Plus.

Government super announcements

The government has announced several measures to support financially distresses individuals through their superannuation.

Temporary reduction in minimum drawdown rates for retirees

The minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and transition to retirement income streams (TRIS) will be reduced by 50% for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years. Read more in this government fact sheet.

We're working through these recent announcements> Our Retirement Access members will be contacted in the near future with more details.

Temporary early release of superannuation

The government is allowing individuals significantly financially affected by the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their super in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21 if they meet eligibility conditions. These withdrawals will be tax-free and won’t affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments. Applications will be made directly to the Australian Taxation Office from mid-April 2020. Read more in this government fact sheet.