Disturbing drop in member contributions

Only 18 per cent of workers are contributing more than the 9.5 per cent superannuation guarantee minimum, according to new data released by Roy Morgan.

The research, covering the 12 months to October, suggested this was a potential problem because it was generally recognised that without additional contributions the current 9.5 per cent SG would not be enough to fund a comfortable retirement.

Disturbingly, the Roy Morgan data pointed to the fact that the number of men and women contributing extra to their superannuation had actually declined since 2009.

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It said that in 2009 24.5 per cent of working men were contributing beyond the SG alongside 21.1 per cent of women.

“The latest figures for 2018 show that men have declined to only 18.0 per cent and although women have also declined (to 18.1 per cent) they are now marginally ahead of men,” the Roy Morgan analysis said.

It said that the overall result was that since 2009 there had been a considerable drop in the proportion of workers with superannuation that contributed beyond the compulsory level, declining from 23.0 per cent in 2009 to 18.0 per cent in 2018.

The research confirmed that it was older workers approaching retirement who were ramping up their contributions, with the highest level (35.2 per cent) being among those aged 55 to 64.

This compared to 30.7 per cent for those aged over 65, and 24.4 per cent for those aged 45 to 54.

Commenting on the results, Roy Morgan Industry Communications director, Norman Morris said the low level of above compulsory superannuation contributions presented a major retirement funding problem for workers and the government.

“In addition to the problem relating to the low level of additional contributions, there is the adverse trend that less workers across all age groups are now making additional contributions compared to nine years ago,” he said.

Morris said one of the reasons for this decline was the difficulty of engaging workers in what for most had a very long term time horizon and as a result was likely to involve many rule changes.

“Other financial issues are obviously negatively impacting and are related to competing priorities such as housing affordability, leisure activities, rising household expenses, all in an environment of low wages growth and political uncertainty,” he said.

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The feedback we receive is that they don't want to contribute as they "keep changing the rules". Many people believe the Government will block access to lump sum withdrawals in the future, and that successive Governments use Superannuation as their "cash cow" to make changes to get more revenue. Stability is required for people to want to contribute.

Maybe a 'refresh' of the Government Co-contribution back up to $1,500 might regenerate interest ?

Given a couple loses most of their Aged Pension after $500,000 in super (up to $844,000), due to Australia's bizarre asset & income test rules, why would they make more voluntary contributions? The only way to fix this is to move to the NZ system, where there is a universal age pension (paid say from age 70), with no asset or income text. You would pay some tax on earnings or on direct income, but at a far lower rate than say under age 65. All this article proves is that the Australian system revolves around envy, and has been badly designed.

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