Market movements & review video – January 2023

As 2022 drew to a close, investors remained focused on inflation, interest rates and recession worries.

The ASX200 index declined in December after two months of gains, ending a challenging year showing an overall loss through 2022 of over 7%.

Click the video below to view our January update.

January 2023 Market Update

Please get in touch if you’d like assistance with your personal financial situation.

Make yourself accountable for your success

When it comes to career or life goals, a crucial element often missing from the discussion is that of personal accountability. Accountability is fundamental to effective government and successful business, but we often neglect it in regards to our own ambitions. Practicing personal accountability isn’t easy, but if you embrace it, the effect can be transformative.


A critical first step in any accountability process is transparency. This means being honest about your prior successes and failures. You can then use what you’ve learned from them to frame your strategy going forward.

Often what stops us from being honest with ourselves is an inability to accept responsibility for our own contribution to our successes or failures. This in turn can often result in a blame mentality. In every person’s life there is a mixture of internal and external obstacles that prevent us from getting what we want. The problem with always blaming what’s outside of us, is that we lose sight of what we can control. It reduces our power. The outcome can be inertia. To blame is to tread water. To be accountable is to build a raft.

Skin in the game

Indecision, procrastination and laziness are three common factors that get in the way of us achieving our goals. So how do we show some accountability and mitigate these habits? The answer is to put some skin in the game – to raise the stakes.

Let’s take the gym as an example. Your building has a free one for the tenants, but you never use it. Maybe it’s because it’s not very well equipped, but you’re also not really losing anything if you don’t go. But say the gym charges a fee. That might mean it’s better resourced, sure, but you’re also getting charged every week. Nobody wants to waste money so you go. You’ve got skin in the game.

Let’s extend the metaphor. You might decide to pay a bit more and join a class, or even splash out and get a personal trainer. Now you’ve really invested, because not only are you giving up your hard-earned cash, but you’ve got someone who will be disappointed in you if you don’t make the session. Someone else to hold you accountable.

Engaging an ally

When a task is set for you by someone else, the stakes are naturally higher because you’re accountable to them. It’s much harder to let someone else down, than it is yourself. This is why it is important to engage an ally, when working towards your goals. And to be honest, the more the better.

Allies can sort fact from fiction, give constructive feedback and encourage you when you’re feeling flat. And it is a lot harder to veer off course when you have a crowd cheering you on.

Practicing accountability

Practicing accountability becomes easier when you have in place a good set of processes. That’s why we’ve come up with this four-step process.

1. Make sure your goals are concrete. This means being specific about what they are and what they’re not. You can’t kick a goal if you don’t know where the goal posts are.

2. Record your progress. Ask any business leader, and they’ll tell you accountability requires accurate reporting. This is where transparency and diligence come in. Make sure you keep records of your successes and failures, the tasks you did, the time they took, and what they cost. Then let this frame your strategy going forward, including incremental deadlines.

3. Invest and put some more skin the game. This means giving up something that has currency to you in order to compel you to keep going. There needs to be an outcome, a material loss, that comes from not reaching your deadlines.

4. Finally, engage an ally. This can be a mentor or a friend. Someone who checks in with you and encourages you but can also give constructive criticism.

If you’ve got big dreams and need some help making them financially viable, come talk to us. We can help make a plan, and ensure you stay accountable each step of the way.

Mortgage vs super

With interest rates on the rise and investment returns increasingly volatile, Australians with cash to spare may be wondering how to make the most of it. If you have a mortgage, should you make extra repayments or would you be better off in the long run boosting your super?

The answer is, it depends. Your personal circumstances, interest rates, tax and the investment outlook all need to be taken into consideration.

What to consider

Some of the things you need to weigh up before committing your hard-earned cash include:

Your age and years to retirement

The closer you are to retirement and the smaller your mortgage, the more sense it makes to prioritise super. Younger people with a big mortgage, dependent children, and decades until they can access their super have more incentive to pay down housing debt, perhaps building up investments outside super they can access if necessary.

Your mortgage interest rate

This will depend on whether you have a fixed or variable rate, but both are on the rise. As a guide, the average variable mortgage interest rate is currently around 4.5 per cent so any money directed to your mortgage earns an effective return of 4.5 per cent.i

When interest rates were at historic lows, you could earn better returns from super and other investments; but with interest rates rising, the pendulum is swinging back towards repaying the mortgage. The earlier in the term of your loan you make extra repayments, the bigger the savings over the life of the loan. The question then is the amount you can save on your mortgage compared to your potential earnings if you invest in super.

Super fund returns

In the 10 years to 30 June 2022, super funds returned 8.1 per cent a year on average but fell 3.3 per cent in the final 12 months.ii In the short-term, financial markets can be volatile but the longer your investment horizon, the more time there is to ride out market fluctuations. As your money is locked away until you retire, the combination of time, compound interest and concessional tax rates make super an attractive investment for retirement savings.


Super is a concessionally taxed retirement savings vehicle, with tax on investment earnings of 15 per cent compared with tax at your marginal rate on investments outside super.

Contributions are taxed at 15 per cent going in, but this is likely to be less than your marginal tax rate if you salary sacrifice into super from your pre-tax income. You may even be able to claim a tax deduction for personal contributions you make up to your annual cap. Once you turn 60 and retire, income from super is generally tax free. By comparison, mortgage interest payments are not tax-deductible.

Personal sense of security

For many people there is an enormous sense of relief and security that comes with having a home fully paid for and being debt-free heading into retirement. As mortgage interest payments are not tax deductible for the family home (as opposed to investment properties), younger borrowers are often encouraged to pay off their mortgage as quickly as possible. But for those close to retirement, it may make sense to put extra savings into super and use their super to repay any outstanding mortgage debt after they retire.

These days, more people are entering retirement with mortgage debt. So whatever your age, your decision will also depend on the size of your outstanding home loan and your super balance. If your mortgage is a major burden, or you have other outstanding debts, then debt repayment is likely a priority.

All things considered

As you can see, working out how to get the most out of your savings is rarely simple and the calculations will be different for everyone. The best course of action will ultimately depend on your personal and financial goals.

Buying a home and saving for retirement are both long-term financial commitments that require regular review. If you would like to discuss your overall investment strategy, give us a call.


How do SMSFs invest?

As Australia’s system of compulsory superannuation celebrated its 30th anniversary in July, this is a good time to take a closer look at one of super’s biggest success stories – the number of people deciding to take control of their retirement savings with a self-managed super fund (SMSF).

There are now almost 607,000 SMSFs worth a combined $894 million, with 1.1 million members.

While one of the benefits of running your own fund is the flexibility to chart your own course, concerns have been raised over the years that SMSFs are too heavily invested in cash and shares and not as well diversified as large public funds. The latest figures show these concerns are largely unfounded.

Comparing SMSFs and large funds

SMSF administrator, SuperConcepts recently surveyed 4,500 funds to find out how SMSF trustees invest and identify any emerging trends.i They also wanted to see how SMSFs compare with large APRA-regulated funds including – industry, retail, public sector and corporate funds – in terms of their investments.

The table below shows the overall asset breakdown as at 31 March 2022.

Asset typeSMSF %APRA fund %
Cash and short-term deposits12.29.1
Australian fixed interest8.410.0
International fixed interest2.17.9
Australian shares40.028.5
International shares16.427.0
Other (incl. infrastructure, cryptocurrency, commodities and collectables)4.99.0

Source: SuperConcepts

Several differences stand out:

  • SMSFs have a higher level of cash and short-term deposits, although not massively so.
  • SMSFs hold more Australian shares and property
  • APRA funds hold more international shares and fixed interest, and more alternative assets.

At first glance, these differences conform to the stereotype of SMSFs being too dependent on cash, Australian shares and property.

However, the preference for cash may come down to a higher proportion of SMSF members in pension phase (45 per cent of SMSFs are partly or fully in pension phase according to the ATO). The more members a fund has in pension phase, the more cash and liquid investments it needs to cover benefit payments.

Also, the differences are not so stark when you group assets. For instance, cash and fixed interest combined amount to 22.7 per cent for SMSFs and 27.0 per cent for APRA funds. Similarly, local and international shares (56.4 per cent for SMSFs, 55.5 per cent for APRA funds) and property and other (20.9 per cent vs 17.5 per cent ).

It’s likely that the differences within these broad asset groupings are driven by access to different markets, and SMSF trustees being more comfortable picking investments they know such as local shares and property.

What’s more, while big funds can invest directly in large infrastructure projects with steady capital appreciation and reliable income streams, SMSF investors may be pursuing a similar strategy but with real property instead.

Top 10 SMSF investments

Whether it’s the familiarity factor or ease of access, the top 10 investments by value held by SMSFs in the SuperConcepts survey were all Australian shares. As you might expect, the major banks dominate the top 10, along with market heavyweights BHP, CSL and Telstra.

Another thing the top 10 have in common, apart from being household names and easy to access, is dividends. Just as SMSFs in retirement phase hold higher levels of cash to fund their daily income needs, high dividend paying shares are prized for their regular income stream.

Use of ETFs and managed funds

While SMSFs hold large sums in direct Australian shares, diversification improves markedly when you add investments in Australian and international shares held via ETFs and managed funds.

The SuperConcepts survey found almost one third of SMSF investments by value are held in pooled investments. The highest usage is for international shares and fixed interest, where 75 per cent of exposure is via ETFs and managed funds.

As it’s still relatively difficult to access direct investments in international shares, it’s not surprising that global share funds account for eight of the top 10 ETFs and managed funds.

This latest research shows that the diversification of SMSF investment portfolios is broadly comparable to the big super funds. After 30 years of growth and a new generation taking control of their investments, the SMSF sector has well and truly come of age.

If you would like to discuss your SMSF’s investment strategy or you are thinking of setting up your own fund, give us a call.