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Make your personal contributions by 25 June 2024 to make sure they’re counted towards the 2023/24 financial year.

See important dates for more information.

Understanding asset classes  

Asset classes are groups of investments that have similar characteristics. They are the building blocks of our investment options.

Key points:

  • We group our asset classes into three different types: 
    • growth assets
    • defensive assets
    • a mix of growth assets and defensive assets. 
  • We invest in liquid investments like shares, as well as illiquid investments like unlisted property and infrastructure.
  • The asset classes we invest in include:   
    • Australian shares
    • International shares
    • Private equity
    • Infrastructure
    • Property
    • Liquid alternatives
    • Fixed income 
    • Credit income 
    • Cash

 

Diversification

Spreading your super across different types of assets is called diversification. Diversification can help reduce the risk of your super having negative returns. This is because not all investments and asset classes perform in the same way at the same time. For example, if one asset class has negative returns, other asset classes may still have positive returns. 

All of our diversified investment options are invested across a range of asset classes.  

We also offer single asset class options. You can choose to mix and match these to diversify your investments. 

Asset class types

Before choosing an investment option, it’s important to understand how risky it is. One way to assess this is to consider how much an option holds in growth assets and defensive assets.

The table below shows how we classify our different asset classes.

Scroll table horizontally on mobile

Asset class type Description Asset classes
Growth Growth assets can generate higher returns over the long term. However, returns can be volatile. This means if you invest in growth assets you can expect that your account balance will go up and down in the short term. 

Australian shares

International shares

Private equity

Property (listed)

Defensive Defensive assets tend to generate lower returns over the long term. They usually don’t go up and down in value as much as growth assets over the short term, but they can still experience negative returns. Returns generally come from income rather than an increase in the value of the investment.

Cash

Fixed income

Credit income

Mix of growth and defensive These asset classes have a mix of growth and defensive characteristics.

Infrastructure

Property (unlisted)

Liquid alternatives 

Liquid and illiquid investments

We invest in both liquid and illiquid assets. 

  • Liquid investments are those that can be easily sold and converted into cash. They include shares, fixed income investments like bonds, listed property, listed infrastructure and liquid alternatives. 
  • Illiquid investments are those that can’t be converted into cash for a fair market value quickly or easily. They include unlisted property, unlisted infrastructure and private equity. These are often long-term investments which matches well with the long-term investment horizon of super. They can also help increase diversification. 
     

Our Core and Socially Conscious diversified investment options invest in a mix of liquid and illiquid investments. 

Our Indexed and Single Asset Class options invest only in liquid investments. 

Our asset classes

Below are descriptions of each of our asset classes to help you understand how your super is invested. 

Shares

Shares are a type of investment that give you partial ownership of a company. They can be bought or sold on an exchange. 

The value of shares is dependent on the performance of the company and the overall share market. Investing in shares can offer the potential for high returns. However, share prices can change quickly and by large amounts. This makes them a high-risk investment.  

We invest in both Australian and international shares across a range of industries. 

Note that our Australian and International shares asset classes may include a small allocation to unlisted companies.

Private equity

Private equity is an investment in a company that isn’t listed on a public stock exchange. It can include Australian and international companies across a wide range of industries. 

Private equity investments can generate strong returns for investors. However, they are generally not easily traded. This makes them high risk investments. 

See examples of our private equity investments

Infrastructure

Infrastructure investments are the systems and facilities that provide essential services to communities. It also includes the entities that own or operate them.  

Infrastructure investments can include: 

  • utilities, such as electricity, gas and water
  • energy, such as power, renewables and storage
  • transport, such as toll roads, railways, airports and seaports
  • social infrastructure, such as hospitals and convention centres
  • digital, such as fibre and data centres
  • registries, such as land and motor vehicle registries
  • infrastructure-like agriculture, such as water and timber assets
     

Our infrastructure asset class can include both unlisted and listed infrastructure companies. However, it is currently fully invested in unlisted infrastructure assets.

See examples of our infrastructure investments

Property  

Property investments are investments in real estate. This can include commercial property such as office buildings, shopping centres, industrial estates. Or residential property such as apartment buildings and retirement villages, and property businesses. 

We invest in property in two ways: 

  • directly – by buying a property 
  • indirectly - by buying units in a listed or unlisted property trust or company.
     

Listed property investments are traded on a public exchange like shares. They are an investment in their own right. Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs, are a common form of listed property. The returns from listed property investments are closely tied to the overall real estate market. However, their value can also be impacted by the overall mood of the stock market. This means their prices can change quickly and by large amounts. As a result, they are generally higher risk than direct or unlisted property investments. 

See examples of our property investments
See examples of our investments in essential worker housing

Liquid alternatives

Liquid alternatives are a type of alternative investment that can: 

  • provide diversifying sources of return
  • help manage portfolio risk, and
  • generally be readily converted into cash. 
     

Examples of liquid alternatives include hedge funds and real return strategies. 

We have both growth-orientated and defensive liquid alternatives investments.  

  • Growth-oriented - these strategies aim to generate strong capital growth, but can also carry a high level of risk.
  • Defensive - these strategies aim to provide positive returns when share markets experience large negative returns.
     

Fixed income 

Fixed income investments pay regular interest over a set term, usually at a fixed rate. They can include bonds and securitised assets. 

A bond is a loan to a government or large corporation. The investor receives regular interest payments called coupons. The loan amount, known as the principal, is repaid to the investor when the loan period ends.

Securitised assets are created by bundling together debts, for example residential home loans, into tradeable securities. Investors in these securities receive regular payments similar to bond interest payments.

Like most other investments, the value of fixed income investments can go up and down. Changes that can affect their value include:

  • interest rates and interest rate expectations
  • circumstances of the individual lender
  • economic conditions
  • liquidity (how many buyers and sellers there are).
     

Fixed income investments can experience periods of low or negative returns.

Credit income

Credit income covers a range of debt investments. Like fixed income, credit income investments involve lending money to a borrower. However, compared to fixed income, the borrowers usually have a higher credit risk profile. Because of this, they typically pay a higher interest rate. This means the potential returns are higher than traditional fixed income. However, the risk of default is also greater.

Credit income includes loans to companies across a variety of industries such as:

  • infrastructure 
  • real estate
  • financials, and 
  • different corporate sectors. 
     

Cash 

Cash includes term deposits and other short-term interest-bearing investments issued by banks. 

Cash typically provides a low risk, short-term investment with fairly stable but lower returns compared to other asset classes.

The cash allocation for our diversified options can also include other short-term money market and debt securities. These types of cash investments can have the potential for higher returns, but also have modestly higher risk. 

 

For more information on our asset classes, refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Handbook. 

Where to next?

Our investment options

You can choose from a range of investment options that will help you grow your super.  

For each investment option, we decide on a suitable mix of assets.  

Check the performance of your super

Did you know you can view the performance of our investment options at any time? 

Investment advice at no extra cost

Take advantage of advice about your Aware Super account at no extra cost-including advice about which investment option might best suit your needs.