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.

Tax

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.


https://www.finder.com.au/the-average-home-loan-interest-rate

ii https://www.chantwest.com.au/resources/super-members-spared-the-worst-in-a-rough-year-for-markets

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
Property16.08.5
Other (incl. infrastructure, cryptocurrency, commodities and collectables)4.99.0
Total100100

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.


https://www.superconcepts.com.au/insights-and-support/news-and-media/detail/2022/06/19/superconcepts-relaunches-quarterly-smsf-investment-patterns-survey

 

Avoid the rush: Get ready for June 30

It seems like June 30 rolls around quicker every year, so why wait until the last minute to get your finances in order?

With all the disruption and special support measures of the past two years, it’s possible your finances have changed. So it’s a good idea to ensure you’re on track for the upcoming end-of-financial-year (EOFY).

Starting early is essential to make the most of opportunities on offer when it comes to your super and tax affairs.

New limits for super contributions

Annual contribution limits for super rose this financial year, so maximising your super contributions to boost your retirement savings is even more attractive.

From 1 July 2021, most people’s annual concessional contributions cap increased to $27,500 (up from $25,000). This allows you to contribute a bit extra into your super on a before-tax basis, potentially reducing your taxable income.

If you have any unused concessional contribution amounts from previous financial years and your super balance is less than $500,000, you may be able to “carry forward” these amounts to further top up.

Another strategy is to make a personal contribution for which you claim a tax deduction. These contributions count towards your $27,500 cap and were previously available only to the self-employed. To qualify, you must notify your super fund in writing of your intention to claim and receive acknowledgement.

Non-concessional super strategies

If you have some spare cash, it may also be worth taking advantage of the higher non-concessional (after-tax) contributions cap. From 1 July 2021, the general non concessional cap increased to $110,000 annually (up from $100,000).

These contributions can help if you’ve reached your concessional contributions cap, received an inheritance, or have additional personal savings you would like to put into super. If you are aged 67 or older, however, you need to meet the requirements of the work test or work test exemption.

For those under age 67 (previously age 65) at any time during 2021-22, you may be able to use a bring-forward arrangement to make a contribution of up to $330,000 (three years x $110,000).

To take advantage of the bring-forward rule, your total super balance (TSB) must be under the relevant limit on 30 June of the previous year. Depending on your TSB, your personal contribution limit may be less than $330,000, so it’s a good idea to talk to us first.

More super things to think about

If you plan to make tax-effective super contributions through a salary sacrifice arrangement, now is a good time to discuss this with your employer, as the ATO requires documentation prior to commencement.

Another option if you’re aged 65 and over and plan to sell your home is a downsizer contribution. You can contribute up to $300,000 ($600,000 for a couple) from the proceeds without meeting the work test.

And don’t forget contributing into your low-income spouse’s super account could score you a tax offset of up to $540.

Get your SMSF shipshape

If you have your own self-managed super fund (SMSF), it’s important to check it’s in good shape for EOFY and your annual audit.

Administrative tasks such as updating minutes, lodging any transfer balance account reports (TBARs), checking the COVID relief measures (residency, rental, loan repayment and in-house assets), and undertaking the annual market valuation of fund assets should all be started now.

It’s also sensible to review your fund’s investment strategy and whether the fund’s assets remain appropriate.

Know your tax deductions

It’s also worth thinking beyond super for tax savings.

If you’ve been working from home due to COVID-19, you can use the shortcut method to claim 80 cents per hour worked for your running expenses. But make sure you can substantiate your claim.

You also need supporting documents to claim work-related expenses such as car, travel, clothing and self-education. Check whether you qualify for other common expense deductions such as tools, equipment, union fees, the cost of managing your tax affairs, charity donations and income protection premiums.

Review your investment portfolio

After a year of strong investment market performance, now is also a good time to review your investments outside super. Benchmark your portfolio’s performance and check whether any assets need to be sold or purchased to rebalance in line with your strategy.

You might also consider realising any investment losses, as these can be offset against capital gains you made during the year.

If you would like to discuss EOFY strategies and super contributions, call our office on 03 5120 1400.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

The new Director ID: Do you need one?

It’s been a busy year for Australia’s two million plus directors dealing with the pandemic and lockdowns and there’s now a new task on their to-do list.

From 1 November 2021, if you’re a director or want to become one, you will need to apply for the new Director Identification Number (Director ID) being rolled out by the Federal Government.

Directors of businesses and entities of all sizes – including directors and corporate trustees of self-managed super funds (SMSFs) – will all need to apply. If you run your business as a sole trader or partnership, however, you won’t need a Director ID.

Director ID: what is it?

The new Director ID is a unique 15-digit identifier most directors will need before they can take up a directorship.

Before you join a board, you will need to apply for your own Director ID which you will keep forever, even if you change boards, stop being a director, change your name or move interstate or overseas.

This new identifier is part of a broader registry modernisation project combining the Australian Business Registry Service (ABRS) with numerous ASIC registers to form a single system overseen by the ATO.

According to the government, unique director identifiers will create a fairer business environment by preventing the use of false and fraudulent director identities.

Who needs a Director ID?

The new regime casts a pretty wide net and will catch most business entities and organisations.

You will need a Director ID if you are an eligible officer of a company, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation, corporate trustee, charity or not-for-profit organisations limited by guarantee, or a foreign company registered with ASIC and conducting business in Australia.

Directors of registered Australian bodies (such as incorporated associations registered with ASIC that trade outside the state or territory in which they are incorporated) also need to apply.

If your organisation has an Australian Business Number (ABN), you can use the ABRS LookUp tool to check whether it is registered with ASIC.

Officers outside the ID regime

Some company officers are not required to apply for the new identifier.

If you are a company secretary but not a director, act as an external administrator of a company, or are called a director but haven’t been appointed as a director under the Corporations Act, you won’t need a Director ID.

Neither will directors of charities not registered with ASIC to operate throughout Australia.

The officers of an unincorporated association, cooperative or incorporated association established under state or territory legislation (unless the organisation is also a registered Australian body), are also exempt.

Applying for your Director ID

From November 2021, you will need to apply for your Director ID on the ABRS website and log in using the myGovID app. The myGovID app is downloaded on your smart device to verify your digital identity and is different to your existing myGov account.

When applying for your Director ID, you are required to personally make the application so you can verify your identity.

There are varying application deadlines for the new identifier, with current directors (on or before 31 October 2021), having until 30 November 2022 to obtain their Director ID.

While existing directors have plenty of time, if you become a director between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022, you must apply for your Director ID within 28 days of your appointment to the board.

Directors appointed after 5 April 2022, must apply prior to taking up their directorship.

If you are unable to apply for your Director ID by the relevant deadline, you can apply for an extension.

Once you receive your new Director ID, you will need to pass it on to your company recordholder who is usually the company secretary or authorised agent. The ABRS is not permitted to disclose Director IDs to the public without consent and your details won’t be searchable on the register.

If you would like more information about Director IDs, whether you need one and how to go about applying, please get in touch with one of our advisers on 03 5120 1400 or via our website contact page.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.




Is an SMSF right for you?

As anyone who has joined the weekend crowd at Bunnings knows, Australians love DIY. And that same can-do spirit helps explain why 1.1 million Aussies choose to take control of their retirement savings with a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF).

As well as control, investment choice is a key reason for having an SMSF. As an example, these are the only type of super fund that allow you to invest in direct property, including your small business premises.

Other reasons people give are dissatisfaction with their existing fund, more flexibility to manage tax and greater flexibility in estate planning.

What type of person has an SMSF?

If you think SMSFs are only for wealthy older folk, think again.

The average age of people establishing an SMSF is currently between 35 and 44. They’re also dedicated. The majority of SMSF trustees say they spend 1 to 5 hours a month monitoring their fund.i,ii

But an SMSF is not for everyone. There has been ongoing debate about how much you need in your fund to make it cost-effective and whether the returns are competitive with mainstream super funds.

So is an SMSF right for you? Here are some things to consider.

The cost of control

Running an SMSF comes with the responsibility to comply with superannuation regulations, which costs time and money.

There are set-up costs and ongoing administration and investment costs. These vary enormously depending on whether you do a lot of the administration and investment yourself or outsource to professionals.

A recent survey by Rice Warner of more than 100,000 SMSFs found that annual compliance costs ranged from $1,189 to $2,738. These are underlying costs that can’t be avoided, such as the annual ASIC fee, ATO supervisory levy, audit fee, financial statement and tax return.iii

If trustees decide they don’t want any involvement in the administration of their fund, the cost of full administration ranges from $1,514 to $3,359.

There is an even wider range of ongoing investment fees, depending on the type of investments you hold. Fees tend to be highest for funds with investment property because of the higher management, accounting and auditing costs.

By comparison, the same report estimated annual fees for industry funds range from $445 to $6,861 for one member and $505 to $7,055 for two members. Fees for retail funds were similar. Fees for SMSFs are the same whether the fund has one or two members.

Size matters

As a general principle, the higher your SMSF account balance, the more cost-effective it is to run.

According to the Rice Warner survey:

  • Funds with $200,000 or more in assets are cost-competitive with both industry and retail super funds, even if they fully outsource their administration.
  • Funds with a balance of $100,000 to $200,000 may be competitive if they use one of the cheaper service providers or do some of the administration themselves.
  • Funds with $500,000 or more are generally the cheapest alternative.

Returns also tend to be better for funds with more than $500,000 in assets.

Even though SMSFs with a balance of under $100,000 are more expensive than industry or retail funds, they may be appropriate if you expect your balance to grow to a competitive size fairly soon.

Increased responsibility

While SMSFs offer more control, that doesn’t mean you can do as you like. Every member of your fund has legal responsibility for ensuring it complies with all the relevant rules and regulations, even if you outsource some functions.

SMSFs are regulated by the ATO which monitors the sector with an eagle eye and hands out penalties for rule breakers. And there are lots of rules.

The most important rule is the sole purpose test, which dictates that you must run your fund with the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits for members. Fund assets must be kept separate from your personal assets and you can’t just dip into your retirement savings early when you’re short of cash.

Don’t overlook insurance

If you considering rolling the balance of an existing super fund into an SMSF, it could mean losing your life insurance cover. To ensure you are not left with inadequate insurance you may need to arrange new policies.

If you would like to discuss your superannuation options and whether an SMSF may be suitable for you, don’t hesitate to call on 03 5120 1400 and speak to a Financial Adviser.

https://www.smsfassociation.com/media-release/survey-sheds-new-insights-on-why-individuals-set-up-smsfs?at_context=50383

ii https://www.smsfassociation.com/media-release/survey-sheds-new-insights-on-why-individuals-set-up-smsfs?at_context=50383

iii https://www.ricewarner.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Cost-of-Operating-SMSFs-2020_23.11.20.pdf

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 or RGM Finance Brokers Pty Ltd ABN 81 330 778 236 (RGM) that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.


Getting retirement plans back on track

After a year when even the best laid plans have been put on hold due to COVID-19, people who were planning to retire soon may be having second thoughts. You may be concerned about a drop in your super balance, insecure work, or an uncertain investment outlook.

Whatever your circumstances, a financial tune-up may be required to get your retirement plans back on track. You may even find you’re in better financial shape than you feared, but you won’t know until you do your sums.

The best place to start is to think about your future income needs.

What will retirement cost?

Your retirement spending will depend on your lifestyle, if you are married or single, whether you own your home and where you want to live.

Maybe you want to holiday overseas every year while you are still physically active or buy a van and tour Australia. Do you want to eat out regularly, play golf, and lead an active social life; or are you a homebody who enjoys gardening, craftwork or pottering in the shed?

Also think about the cost of creature comforts, such as the ability to upgrade cars, computers and mobiles, buy nice clothes, enjoy good wine and pay for private health insurance.

It’s often suggested you will need around 70 per cent of your pre-retirement income to continue living in the manner to which you have become accustomed. That’s because it’s generally cheaper to live in retirement, with little or no tax to pay and (hopefully) no mortgage or rent.

Draw up a budget

To get you started, the ASFA Retirement Standard may be helpful. It provides sample budgets for different households and living standards.

ASFA suggests singles aged 65 would need around $44,183 a year to live comfortably, while couples would need around $62,435.i Of course, comfort is different for everyone so you may wish to aim higher.

To put these figures in perspective, the full age pension is currently around $24,550 a year for singles and $37,013 for couples. As you can see, this doesn’t stretch to ASFA’s modest budget, let alone a comfortable lifestyle, especially for retirees who are paying rent or still paying off a mortgage.

Then there is the ‘known unknown’ of how long you will live. Today’s 65-year-olds can expect to live to an average age of around 85 years for men and 87 for women. The challenge is to ensure your money lasts the distance.

Can I afford to retire?

Once you have a rough idea what your ideal retirement will cost, you can work out if you have enough super and other savings to fund it.

Using the ASFA benchmark for a comfortable lifestyle, say you hope to retire at age 65 on annual income of $62,000 a year until age 85. Couples would need a lump sum of $640,000 and singles would need $545,000. This assumes you earn 6 per cent a year on your investments, draw down all your capital and receive a part age pension.

Add up your savings and investments inside and outside super. Subtract your debts, including outstanding loans and credit card bills, to arrive at your current net savings. Then work out how much you are likely to have by the time you hope to retire if you continue your current savings strategy.

There are many online calculators to help you estimate your retirement balance, such as the MoneySmart super calculator.

Closing the gap

If there’s a gap between your retirement dream and your financial reality, you still have choices.

If you have the means, you could make additional super contributions up to your concessional cap of $25,000 a year. You may also be able to make after-tax contributions of up to $100,000 a year or, subject to eligibility, $300,000 in any three-year period. 
You might also consider delaying retirement which has the double advantage of allowing you to accumulate more savings and reduce the number of years you need to draw on them.

These are challenging times to be embarking on your retirement journey, but a little planning now could put you back in the driver’s seat. 

If you would like to discuss your retirement strategy further contact one of our advisers on 03 5120 1400.

https://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 or RGM Finance Brokers Pty Ltd ABN 81 330 778 236 (RGM) that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.