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Super is a long-term investment for your future. Understanding how investments work can help you make sense of your investment choices. This can help you feel more in control of the money that will support you in retirement.

Key points

  • Your super is your money, and you can choose how it's invested. 
  • When you plan to retire is important to your investment choice. Having a longer investment timeline means you can ride out short-term market falls.
  • Super is an investment. This means you can invest in different things like shares, property, and cash.
  • You can choose from a number of investment options, or a mix of these options.
  • The value of your investments can go up and down, and so can your super balance.
  • Your super balance is invested with other members’ money. When your money is combined in this way, you can access larger investments. You could benefit from returns on this larger investment. It can also help keep costs down. 

Your super is an investment

When you join a super fund, your employer makes contributions to your super account. You can choose to add more to help grow your super faster.

The money in your super account is invested in your chosen investment option.

You can choose to invest in one or more investment options in whatever percentages you like. Learn about how you can choose your investments.

The way your super is invested can make a big difference to how much money you’ll have in retirement. Watch this video to learn the basics.

Your super is your money, and it’s invested in things like shares and property, in what we call an “investment option”.

When the value of these investments goes up or down, over time, so does your super balance.

Investment options are choices you can make about the types of things you’re invested in.

You can pick your own investment options by choosing one, or a mix of options, depending on how confident you are.

When making a choice, you should consider the risk of the option, but also the returns (or money) you could make.

Or, like most of our members, you can leave the investment decisions to us.

If you don’t make an investment choice, you’ll be invested in our My Super Lifecycle option, which is designed by investment experts to automatically adjust what you’re invested in to suit your age.

When you’re younger, your money is invested in higher risk to grow faster, but as you approach retirement, risk is slowly reduced, to help safeguard your savings - so you retire with more.

Not sure what you’re invested in? Just log in to your account online.

To learn more about investment options, visit



This video contains general advice only. We have not taken into consideration any of your objectives, financial situation or needs or any information we hold about you when providing this general advice. Further this video does not contain, and should not be read as containing, any recommendations to you in relation to your product. Before taking any action, you should consider whether the general advice contained in this video is appropriate to you having regard to your circumstances and needs and seek appropriate professional advice if you think you need it. You should also read our Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) before making a decision about Aware Super. Issued by Aware Super Pty Ltd ABN 11 118 202 672, AFSL 293340, the trustee of Aware Super ABN 53 226 460 365.

MySuper product

A MySuper product is the option you’re automatically placed in if you don’t make a choice when you join a super fund. 

At Aware Super, our MySuper product is called MySuper Lifecycle. It automatically changes the mix of your investments as you move towards retirement.

Choosing your own investment mix

If you’ve made a different choice, you should also review your investments from time to time. Your investment needs will change as you move through your working life to retirement.

How to make an investment choice

Investment returns could make up 40% of your super at retirement. So, making the right choice is important.

Learn more about how you can make an investment choice

What happens if you don’t make an investment choice?

If you don’t make an investment choice, your super will be invested in MySuper Lifecycle. Our MySuper Lifecycle approach automatically changes your investment mix as you approach retirement. 

Learn more about MySuper Lifecycle.

Your investment timeline

The amount of time you have before you plan to retire and access your super plays a big part in how you invest. Your investment timeline is the amount of time you have until you retire and access your super. 

If you're still a long way off retirement, you're investing for the longer term. During that time, the market will hit rocky patches. Having a longer investment timeline means you can ride out short-term market falls.  

If you’re closer to retirement, you might choose more conservative investments. This can help to cushion your super balance from large market falls.

Investment options

We have a number of investment options you can choose from.  

You can choose your investment mix or leave it up to us.

Each investment option is made up of either a mix of asset classes, or a single asset class. 

Find out about our investment options

Asset classes

Assets are things you can invest in. Asset classes refer to the grouping of investments that have similar characteristics. 

Some examples of assets classes are equities, property, fixed income, and cash. 

Asset classes can also be grouped by their behaviour and ability to produce returns. These groups are growth assets and defensive assets.

Growth vs defensive assets

Scroll table horizontally on mobile

Growth assets Defensive assets

As the name suggests, these have the potential to grow in value over the medium to long term. Growth assets can be riskier in the short-term when compared with defensive assets. 


  • Examples of growth assets include Australian equities, international equities, and private equity.
  • There is a chance that in the short to medium term, they may fluctuate more frequently.  


These can grow more slowly, but can provide more stability than growth assets. Defensive assets include cash, fixed income investments.


  • They typically generate consistent but lower returns over the long term.
  • The returns usually have a low degree of price fluctuation over the short term but can at times be negative.  

Learn more about asset classes

Investment returns

Because your super is an investment, it earns investment returns. Those returns are reinvested and help generate even more returns. The term for this is compounding, and over time it has a snowball effect, helping your super grow. 

Over time, your super balance will go up and down depending on how your investments perform. Market volatility refers to sharp and unpredictable price movements. It's a normal part of the market cycle which is what can cause fluctuations in your super balance. That’s why it’s important to remember that super is a long-term investment. 

Risk tolerance

Another thing to consider when you’re thinking about how you invest is your risk tolerance. This is your willingness to accept the risk of dramatic changes in the value of an investment option. Your risk tolerance can be affected by things like:

  • Your personal feelings about risk,
  • Your circumstances, and
  • Your life stage.


If you have a higher tolerance for risk, you might invest your super in an investment option with a growth focus. If your risk tolerance is lower, you might choose more conservative investment options. Learn more about investment risk.

how comfortable are you with investment risk

Figure 1 - Retirement example

Learn more about asset classes.

Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more

Understand the basics of how super grows. Learn about how the small actions now can help provide you with a better future.

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 $100,000 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

Related information

Where to next?

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