Misplaced retirement savings–November 2013

Did you know that on average, Australians have about three superannuation accounts, and often have no knowledge of where superannuation accounts started years ago are located? According to research conducted by The Financial Services Council and investment management technology provider DST Global Solutions, one in three superannuation accounts contain a balance of less than $1,000 and 78% of funds containing less than $1,000 are “inactive” – amounting up to $6.9 million such funds.

Finding and consolidating so-called “lost” superannuation accounts naturally adds towards your eventual retirement savings, not only through having more funds but also reducing the impact that fees can have over time. More accounts means more fees, which over the many years until retirement can whittle away at the super pot. This is also forfeited money on which you will not be earning investment income.

While labelling a super account “lost” may seem to reflect badly on the organisational abilities of the account’s owner, it is actually a lot easier than many think to end up with lost super. A super account is considered lost by the Tax Office if it has not received any contributions for two years, so “inactive” may be a better label. It is also considered lost if mail sent by the super fund is returned unanswered two or more times.

The primary tool for tracking down lost super is the Tax Office’s online SuperSeeker tool. And the message seems to be getting through, as every year SuperSeeker receives millions of visitors. The tool will help you look for your lost and unclaimed super and provide you with a list of possible matches. SuperSeeker can also help lodge a request with a super fund online if you find a lost account and wish to transfer the balance to another super account.

In some cases unclaimed super money can be left under the administration of a state or territory government, so it could pay to have a search of the relevant department (as well as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission). The online contacts are:

  • NSW – The Public Trustee of NSW – Unclaimed money register
  • QLD – The Public Trustee of QLD – Unclaimed money register
  • VIC – The State Trustees of Victoria – Unclaimed money register
  • WA – The Public Trustee of Western Australia – Unclaimed money register
  • ACT – The Public Trustee of Australian Capital Territory – Unclaimed money register
  • TAS – The Public Trustee of Tasmania – Unclaimed money register
  • SA – The Department of Treasury & Finance South Australia – Unclaimed money register
  • NT – Northern Territory Treasury – Unclaimed money register
  • ASIC – Australian Securities and Investments Commission – Unclaimed money register

Previous employers may be able to help, especially if you can’t recall which super fund an employer contributed to, as they are more likely to either remember or have records.

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