The top-performing balanced super fund in Australia has delivered average annual returns of almost 9% over the past decade, according to research. Consumer comparison company Finder has published a list of the top-performing super funds over the 10 years to 30 June 2023, with Hostplus revealed as the No. 1 investment for returns.
Chant West provided the data, canvassing only balanced investment options among super funds. Balanced investment options are popular because they typically spread an investor’s superannuation monies across several asset classes, including shares, infrastructure, property, bonds and cash.
Here are the 5 top-performing super funds over the past decade
Hostplus Balanced (average 8.9% p.a.)
Hostplus’s balanced portfolio invests primarily in high growth assets with high stock diversification, according to the website. The minimum investment timeframe is more than five years and the target return is inflation (CPI) plus 4% p.a. over 20 years. The total investment fee is estimated at 0.98% p.a.
AustralianSuper Balanced (average 8.6% p.a)
This super fund invests in a wide range of assets, including shares, private equity, infrastructure, property, fixed interest, credit and cash, according to the website. The minimum investment timeframe is 10 years and the target return is CPI plus a minimum 4% p.a. over the medium to long term. In an example of fees on a $50,000 portfolio, the fee totalled 0.76% p.a.
Australian Retirement Trust (average 8.4% p.a.)
This fund has adopted the investment strategy of the Sunsuper Balanced investment option, according to the website. It invests in a wide variety of asset classes with a large allocation to Australian and international shares. The minimum investment timeframe is five years and the target return is CPI plus 3.5% p.a. over 10 years. The total investment fee is estimated at 0.8% p.a.
UniSuper Balanced (average 8.4% p.a.)
UniSuper balanced invests in a diversified portfolio of mainly higher-risk assets such as Australian and international shares, property, infrastructure and private equity, with some fixed interest and cash investments, according to the website. The minimum investment timeframe is 10 years and the target return is CPI plus 3% p.a. over 10 years. The total investment fee is estimated at 0.51% p.a.
Cbus Growth (MySuper) (average 8.3% p.a.)
The Cbus MySuper fund invests in growth assets including Australian shares and global shares, private equity, infrastructure, property, global credit, fixed interest and cash. The target return is CPI plus 3.5% p.a. over 10 years. The total investment fee is estimated at 0.5% p.a.
Source: Chant West, average annual returns among balanced super funds, 10 years to 30 June 2023
If we compare these funds’ performance to other assets owned by Australian investors, we find that over this same 10-year period, the median house price across Australia’s combined capital cities rose by about 70%. In other words, your home’s value grew by an average of 7% per year, according to CoreLogic data. If you owned an investment property during this time period, then rental returns would be added on top.
Compared to shares, the top super funds above outperformed the ASX 200. Using a popular index-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) as our yardstick, we see that the iShares Core S&P/ASX 200 ETF (ASX: IOZ) has delivered an average annual return of 7.5% (combined capital growth and dividends) since inception in 2010.
If you want to switch super funds, Finder provides the following advice and a four-step process.
Step 1: Choose a new super fund
Look for a combination of low annual fees, high long-term returns (10 year performance) and an investment strategy you understand and agree with.
Step 2: Join the new super fund
Download and complete the new membership form from the fund’s website.
Step 3: Transfer your existing super
Download and complete a second form to transfer your existing super to the new fund.
Step 4: Tell your employer
Download and complete a third form from your new fund’s website called the ‘employee super choice form’ or similar.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Couples find that lab-grown diamonds make it cheaper to get engaged or upgrade to a bigger ring. But there are rocky moments.
Wedding planner Sterling Boulet has some advice for brides-to-be regarding lab-grown diamonds, which cost a fraction of the natural ones.
“If you’re trying to get your man to propose, they’ll propose faster if you offer this as an option,” says Boulet, of Raleigh, N.C. Recently, she adds, a friend’s fiancé “thanked me the next three times I saw him” for telling him about the cheaper lab-made option.
Man-made diamonds are catching on, despite some lingering stigma. This year was the first time that sales of lab-made and natural mined loose diamonds, primarily used as center stones in engagement rings, were split evenly, according to data from Tenoris, a jewellery and diamond trend-analytics company.
The rise of lab-made stones, however, is bringing up quirks alongside the perks. Now that blingier engagement rings—above two or three carats—are more affordable, more people are dealing with the peculiarities of wearing rather large rocks.
Esther Hare, a 5-foot-11-inch former triathlete, sought out a 4.5-carat lab-made oval-shaped diamond to fit her larger hands as a part of her vow renewal in Hawaii last year. It was a far cry from the half-carat ring her husband proposed with more than 25 years ago and the 1.5-carat upgrade they purchased 10 years ago. Hare, 50, who lives in San Jose, Calif., and works in high tech, chose a $40,000 lab-made diamond because “it’s nuts” to have to spend $100,000 on a natural stone. “It had to be big—that was my vision,” she says.
But the size of the ring has made it less practical at times. She doesn’t wear it for athletic training and swaps in her wedding band instead. And she is careful to leave it at home when traveling. “A lot of times I won’t take it on vacation because it’s just a monster,” she says.
The average retail price for a one-carat lab-made loose diamond decreased to $1,426 this year from $3,039 in 2020, according to the Tenoris data. Similar-sized loose natural diamonds cost $5,426 this year, compared with $4,943 in 2020.
Lab-made diamonds have essentially the same chemical makeup as natural ones, and look the same, unless viewed through sophisticated equipment that gauges the characteristics of emitted light.
At Ritani, an online jewellery retailer, lab-made diamond sales make up about 70% of the diamonds sold, up from roughly 30% two years ago, says Juliet Gomes, head of customer service at the company, based in White Plains, N.Y.
Ritani sometimes records videos of the lab-diamonds pinging when exposed to a “diamond tester,” a tool that judges authenticity, to show customers that the man-made rocks behave the same as natural ones. “We definitely have some deep conversations with them,” Gomes says.
Not all gem dealers are rolling with these stones.
Philadelphia jeweller Steven Singer only stocks the natural stuff in his store and is planning a February campaign to give about 1,000 one-carat lab-made diamonds away free to prove they are “worthless.” Anyone can sign up online and get one in the mail; even shipping is free. “I’m not selling Frankensteins that were built in a lab,” Singer says.
Some brides are turned off by the larger bling now allowed by the lower prices.When her now-husband proposed with a two-carat lab-grown engagement ring, Tiffany Buchert, 40, was excited about the prospect of marriage—but not about the size of the diamond, which she says struck her as “costume jewellery-ish.”
“I said yes in the moment, of course, I didn’t want it to be weird,” says the physician assistant from West Chester, Pa.
But within weeks, she says, she fessed up, telling her fiancé: “I think I hate this ring.”
The couple returned it and then bought a one-carat natural diamond for more than double the price.
When Boulet, the wedding planner in Raleigh, got engaged herself, she was over the moon when her fiancé proposed with a 2.3 carat lab-made diamond ring. “It’s very shiny, we were almost worried it was too shiny and was going to look fake,” she says.
It doesn’t, which presents another issue—looking like someone who really shelled out for jewellery. Boulet will occasionally volunteer that her diamond ring came from a lab.
“I don’t want people to think I’m putting on airs, or trying to be flashier than I am,” she says.
For Daniel Teoh, a 36-year-old software engineer outside of Detroit, buying a cheaper lab-made diamond for his fiancée meant extra room in his $30,000 ring budget.
Instead of a bigger ring, he got her something they could both enjoy. During a walk while on an annual ski trip to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Teoh popped the question and handed his now-wife a handmade wooden box that included a 2.5-carat lab-made diamond ring—and a car key.
She put on the ring, celebrated with both of their sisters and a friend, who was the unofficial photographer of the happy event, and then they drove back to the house. There, she saw a 1965 Mustang GT coupe in Wimbledon white with red stripes and a bow on top.
Looking back, Teoh says, it was still the diamond that made the big first impression.
“It wasn’t until like 15 minutes later she was like ‘so, what’s with this key?’” he adds.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’