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Investment basics 

Super is your money. We'll take you through the basics of investments, including how your super in invested. 

Investments can seem like a tricky subject, but understanding the basics is a good first step.

We’ll start with how money in super grows. Next, our default investment option, MySuper Lifecycle, and the different investment options available to you at Aware Super.

Later we’ll look at the importance of staying invested during times of market uncertainty. Let’s get started.

Money in your super grows because it’s invested in things like the share market and property - and because you usually can’t access super until you retire, your money benefits from what’s called “compounding”.

With compounding, it’s not just your investments that can make money; the earnings you make on that money can also grow.

By the time you retire, around half of your super balance could be from your own contributions, and the other half from these compounded investment earnings.

Choosing investment options is about balancing the relationship between risk and growth potential. It’s also about matching your investment choices to your circumstances and needs over time.

Super is a long-term investment, and your investment priorities will likely change as you get older. To make the most of super, it’s important that your investments change with you.

That’s where MySuper Lifecycle fits in.

When you start receiving super, if you don’t make an investment choice, it’s invested by your super fund in what’s called the “default investment option”.

At Aware Super, our default investment option is called MySuper Lifecycle, which is designed by investment experts to automatically adjust your investment mix to suit your age.

We've identified three key life stages that require different investment approaches.

Grow. Manage. And Enjoy.

From the time you open your super account, until you turn 56, your money is invested in the Grow stage.

This phase of the lifecycle makes the most of your ability to grow your super and aims to maximise your returns over the long term.

You’ll be invested in our High Growth Option and your investment mix will generally be higher-risk, because you’ll have time to ride out any market ups and downs.

When you turn 56, and enter what we call the Manage stage, we’ll begin making a series of yearly adjustments to your investment mix.

As you approach retirement, risk is slowly reduced, to help safeguard your savings – to help you retire with more.

From age 65, you’ll move into the Enjoy stage. The lower risk Balanced Growth option here helps to safeguard your retirement savings and provides you with a more stable ongoing return.

More than 85% of our super members stay invested in MySuper Lifecycle. But if you want to be more involved in how your super is invested, you can choose from a range of investment options.

The options you choose will depend on your investment goals and your comfort with each investment’s level of risk.

Typically, higher risk investments can grow more, but that growth can be more uncertain in the short term.

Lower risk investments tend to grow less, but steadily, over time.

At Aware Super, we offer single asset class investment options, which means one type of investment, like Australian shares, or property, or international shares or cash.

We also offer diversified options, where different kinds of investments are mixed together into a single option.

These options can reduce risk, by making it less likely that negative returns from one investment will impact the rest of your investments – put simply, it means that all your eggs aren’t in one basket.

Diversified options include conservative growth, balanced growth, diversified socially responsible investments, growth and high growth, and they have a range of risk and potential returns.

Now here’s Here’s a chart that shows how investment options with different risks performed over time.

The red line at the bottom shows the performance of cash investments. Cash is a lower risk investment, and this shows in its steady but slow progress.

$100,000 invested in cash in 2011 was worth around $110,000 ten years later.

Compare that to our Balanced Growth option, which grew to around $190,000. And as you’ll also see, that growth encountered some ups and downs along the way.

Finally, our high growth option, which climbed in value to an impressive $250,000. You’ll notice the ups and downs are even bigger here.

Choosing investment options is about balancing this relationship between how much risk the option has, and how much it could grow. This Choosing investment options is about balancing this

relationship between risk and growth potential, which can change over time, which is why more than 85% of our super members choose to stay in our MySuper Lifecycle option.

All Aware Super investment options take into account environmental, social and governance (or ESG) considerations.

However, we also offer two additional investment options for members who want greater certainty about the environmental and social impact of their investments.

These are called our Socially Responsible Investment(or SRI) options, and are designed for members who want to avoid particular industries and companies that don’t align with their values.

We offer

  • a Diversified SRI option, and
  • an Australian Equities SRI single asset class option.

As an Aware Super member, you can choose to invest all or part of your super in one or both of our socially responsible investment options.

Super is a long-term investment and, like all long-term investments, there will be times when the markets change quickly. This is called market volatility. When markets are tumbling, as they sometimes do, the news feeds can be unsettling. You might wonder whether you should sit tight or cash out.

However, by switching to cash when markets are down, you risk locking in your losses.

In this chart we can see the impact of switching to cash during a market downturn, as happened in 2020.

Between February and March, the Aware Super Growth Option lost $10,000 of its value, but by November of the same year, it was worth more than it was before the drop.

Anybody who switched to cash on March 23rd saw little to no growth for the same period – so instead of avoiding a loss, they locked it in.

As you can see, there’s lots to learn about investments. If you want to find out more, make a free appointment with one of our experts. Just visit aware.com.au/book

Next steps for information and advice

Check your investment options

Did you know you can check and switch your investments using your Aware Super online account?

101 on investment basics

Super is a long-term investment for your future. Understanding how investments work can help you make sense of your investment choices.

Understanding investments and risk

Learn about how you can make the right choice with your investments and risk profile.

Book your advice appointment

If you’d like expert advice to make more of your super and retirement, or understand your insurance and aged care options better, our financial planners.

Webinars

Join an easy-to-understand live webinar. Our education team can help answer your questions about super, finances, and retirement.

Why choose us

Find out what makes Aware Super a great choice for managing your superannuation investments.