July 2021

July 2021

It’s July, there’s a nip in the air and winter has well and truly set in, as Australia deals with COVID outbreaks across several states. But July also marks the start of the new financial year, a good time to reflect on how far we have come since this time last year and to make plans for the year ahead.

As the financial year ended, there was plenty to celebrate on the economic front despite the continuing impact of COVID-19. Australia rebounded out of recession, with economic growth up 1.8% in March, the third consecutive quarterly rise. Interest rates remain at an historic low of 0.1% and inflation sits at just 1.1%, well below the Reserve Bank’s 2-3% target. Despite fears that global economic recovery will lead to higher inflation and interest rates, the Reserve has indicated rates will not rise until 2024 or annual wage growth reaches 3% (currently 1.5%).

In other positive news, unemployment continues to fall – from 5.5% to 5.1% in May. Retail trade rose 0.1% in May, up 7.4% up on the year, as consumer confidence grows. The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index lifted by almost a point in June to 112.2 points.

Australia’s trade surplus increased from $5.8 billion in March to $8 billion in April, the 40th consecutive monthly rise, on the back of strong Chinese demand for our iron ore and other commodities. Iron ore prices rose 6.7% in June and almost 36% in 2021 to date. Oil prices have also surged, with Bent Crude up 8.4% in June and 45% this year. That’s good for producers and energy stocks, but not so good for businesses reliant on fuel and consumers at the petrol bowser. The Aussie dollar finished the year around US75c, up from US69c a year ago but down on its 3-year high of just under US80c in February due to US dollar strength.

What

What’s up with inflation?

Fears of a resurgence in inflation has been the big topic of conversation among bond and sharemarket commentators lately, which may come as a surprise to many given that our rate of inflation is just 1.1 per cent. Yet despite market rumblings, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) appears quite comfortable about the outlook.

Inflation is a symptom of rising consumer prices, measured in Australia by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The RBA has an inflation target of 2-3 per cent a year, which it regards as a level to achieve its goals of price stability, full employment and prosperity for Australia.

Currently the RBA expects inflation to be 1.5 per cent this year in Australia, rising to 2 per cent by mid-2023.i Until the inflation rate returns to the 2-3 per cent mark, the RBA has said it will not lift the cash rate.

US inflation rising

The situation is a little different overseas where inflation has spiked higher. For instance, US inflation shot up to an annual rate of 5 per cent in May, the fastest pace since 2008, up from 4.2 per cent in April.ii As experienced investors would be aware, markets hate surprises. So with inflation rising faster than anticipated, share and bond markets are on edge.

But just like the RBA, the Federal Reserve views this spike as temporary, pointing to it being a natural reaction after the fall in prices last year during the worst days of the COVID crisis. In addition, companies underestimated demand for their goods during the pandemic and as a result there are now bottlenecks in supply that are putting upward pressure on prices.

The central banks believe that once economies get over the kickstart from all the government stimulation, inflation will fall back into line. After all, most world economies went backwards last year, so any growth should be viewed as a good thing and more than likely a temporary event.

But markets are not convinced.

Inflation and wages

Market pundits argue that if businesses must pay more for materials and running costs such as electricity then these increases will most likely be passed on to the consumer.

That’s all very well if your wages also rise, but if your income remains static then your standard of living will go backwards as you will have to spend more money to buy the same goods.

This then becomes a vicious circle. If the cost of living rises, then you will seek higher wages; this will the put further pressure on the costs for businesses. They will then have to increase their prices further to cover the higher wages bill. Some companies may react by reducing staff levels which will lead to higher unemployment.

Impact on investment

Inflation can also have a negative impact on investors because it reduces their real rate of return. That is, the gross return on an investment minus the rate of inflation.

Rising prices and interest rates also impact company profits. With companies facing higher costs, the outlook for corporate earnings growth comes under pressure.

But not all stocks are affected the same. Companies that produce food and other essentials are not as sensitive to inflation because we all need to eat. Mining companies also benefit from rising prices for the commodities they produce. Whereas high growth stocks like technology companies traditionally suffer from rising interest rates.

Markets current fear is that central banks will tighten monetary policy faster than expected. Interest rates will rise, money will tighten, and this will fuel higher inflation.

Bond market fallout

Expectations of higher inflation has already seen the bond market react, with the 10-year bond yield in both Australia and the US on the rise since October last year.

If yields rise, then the value of bonds actually fall. This is particularly concerning for fixed income investors. Not only are you faced with the prospect of capital losses because the price of your existing bond holdings generally falls when rates rise, but the purchasing power of your income will also be reduced as inflation takes its toll. Investments in inflation-linked bonds should fare better in an inflationary environment.

Inflation is part of the economic cycle. Keeping it under control is the key to a well-run economy and that is where central banks play their role.

Call us if you would like to discuss how an uptick in inflation may be impacting your overall investment strategy.

i https://www.rba.gov.au/media-releases/2021/mr-21-09.html

ii https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/inflation-cpi

Going for gold to achieve your goals

Going for gold to achieve your goals

The Olympic Games always provides a platform to marvel at what humans are capable of, as the athletes competing strive to be the fastest, the strongest or just the best, to win gold. While this year may be a little different, the Games still give us the opportunity to be inspired by the remarkable performances of the athletes as they compete.

The passion and discipline in perfecting their craft has propelled these athletes to elite level, so it’s not surprising that many have also found success outside the sporting arena by transferring this focus to new endeavours.

So how can we apply the same determination and focus to achieving success in our everyday lives?

Set clear, realistic goals

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals are commonly used by athletes to get closer to their medal dreams.i By following this structure, your goals will become clearer and will more likely lead you to where you want to go.
No athlete has reached gold by loftily thinking they ‘might train today’! They have a well-planned schedule and overall plan to develop their skills and abilities to elite level. You can do so in other facets of your life as well through goal setting – and then following through.

Build a great team to support your efforts

While we are focused on the athlete, there is an entire team of people behind their success. Usually from a young age, their parents ferried them around, coaches imparted their wisdom and fellow athletes helped improve their skills through competition. Then there are the trainers, physios, dietitians and life coaches who make up a champion’s team.

While you may not need to assemble an entourage, building a strong network can support your endeavours, keep you accountable and provide ongoing motivation. Perhaps this is an advisor or mentor, a business coach, a career specialist, or perhaps even a savvy friend or family member. Get them on board by sharing your vision and outlining how they can help.

Play to your strengths

While there are some athletes who have won Olympic medals in different sports, the majority specialise in one area.ii By playing to your strengths, you can dedicate your time and energy to a set goal, honing your skills and building on an already strong foundation without overextending yourself.

A much-loved story in Olympic history that illustrates playing to strengths is that of Australian speed skater Steven Bradbury. Realising he was not the fastest skater in the group, Steven’s tactic was to stay back of the pack to avoid a collision, which had happened in an earlier race trial. His smarts (and good luck!) paid off when the faster skaters collided, leaving Steven to cross the finish line and win gold.iii

Project confidence

“I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was,” boxer Muhammad Ali famously stated. While we don’t all have Ali-levels of confidence, we can take a note from his book in projecting an air of confidence.

This may require a bit of a ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ approach, but it won’t be long until this transforms into actual self-belief. Studies have found that adjustments we make to our bodies, such as standing up straight and smiling, can result in improved mood.iv

Embrace failure

No-one likes failing, especially those of us who are competitive. Yet athletes learn from failure, using it to improve and craft their skills, inching towards success.

Failure also builds resilience, by dusting yourself off and not giving up, you develop the tenacity to keep going when times are tough. Use failure as a learning experience that helps you grow, develop and take steps towards your ultimate goal.

As we watch the world’s best athletes perform in Tokyo, be inspired to dream big and set your own goals, making sure you then follow through to achieve your very own version of success.

i https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidcarlin/2020/01/10/why-olympic-athletes-are-smarter-than-you/?sh=77bd0d667384

ii https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_athletes_with_Olympic_medals_in_different_sports

iii https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAADWfJO2qM

iv https://psychcentral.com/blog/fake-it-till-you-make-it-5-cheats-from-neuroscience#1

New Financial Year rings in some super changes

New Financial Year rings in some super changes

As the new financial year gets underway, there are some big changes to superannuation that could add up to a welcome lift in your retirement savings.

Some, like the rise in the Superannuation Guarantee (SG), will happen automatically so you won’t need to lift a finger. Others, like higher contribution caps, may require some planning to get the full benefit.

Here’s a summary of the changes starting from 1 July 2021.

Increase in the Super Guarantee

If you are an employee, the amount your employer contributes to your super fund has just increased to 10 per cent of your pre-tax ordinary time earnings, up from 9.5 per cent. For higher income earners, employers are not required to pay the SG on amounts you earn above $58,920 per quarter (up from $57,090 in 2020-21).

Say you earn $100,000 a year before tax. In the 2021-22 financial year your employer is required to contribute $10,000 into your super account, up from $9,500 last financial year. For younger members especially, that could add up to a substantial increase in your retirement savings once time and compound earnings weave their magic.

The SG rate is scheduled to rise again to 10.5 per cent on 1 July 2022 and gradually increase until it reaches 12% on 1 July 2025.

Higher contributions caps

The annual limits on the amount you can contribute to super have also been lifted, for the first time in four years.

The concessional (before tax) contributions cap has increased from $25,000 a year to $27,500. These contributions include SG payments from your employer as well as any salary sacrifice arrangements you have in place and personal contributions you claim a tax deduction for.

At the same time, the cap on non-concessional (after tax) contributions has gone up from $100,000 to $110,000. This means the amount you can contribute under a bring-forward arrangement has also increased, provided you are eligible.

Under the bring-forward rule, you can put up to three years’ non-concessional contributions into your super in a single financial year. So this year, if eligible, you could potentially contribute up to $330,000 this way (3 x $110,000), up from $300,000 previously. This is a useful strategy if you receive a windfall and want to use some of it to boost your retirement savings.

More generous Total Super Balance and Transfer Balance Cap

Super remains the most tax-efficient savings vehicle in the land, but there are limits to how much you can squirrel away in super for your retirement. These limits, however, have just become a little more generous.

The Total Super Balance (TSB) threshold which determines whether you can make non-concessional (after-tax) contributions in a financial year is assessed at 30 June of the previous financial year. The TSB at which no non-concessional contributions can be made this financial year will increase to $1.7 million from $1.6 million.

Just to confuse matters, the same limit applies to the amount you can transfer from your accumulation account into a retirement phase super pension. This is known as the Transfer Balance Cap (TBC), and it has also just increased to $1.7 million from $1.6 million.

If you retired and started a super pension before July 1 this year, your TBC may be less than $1.7 million and you may not be able to take full advantage of the increased TBC. The rules are complex, so get in touch if you would like to discuss your situation.

Reduction in minimum pension drawdowns extended

In response to record low interest rates and volatile investment markets, the government has extended the temporary 50 per cent reduction in minimum pension drawdowns until 30 June 2022.

Retirees with certain super pensions and annuities are required to withdraw a minimum percentage of their account balance each year. Due to the impact of the pandemic on retiree finances, the minimum withdrawal amounts were also halved for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years.

Time to prepare

There’s a lot for super fund members to digest. SMSF trustees in particular will need to ensure they document changes that affect any of the members in their fund. But these latest changes also present retirement planning opportunities.

Whatever your situation, if you would like to discuss how to make the most of the new rules, please get in touch.

The information posted is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided and the nature of the relevant financial product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) or other offer document prior to making a decision.

Benefits of a super long engagement

Benefits of a super long engagement

Superannuation is a long-term financial relationship. It begins with our first job, grows during our working life and hopefully supports us through our old age.

Throughout your super journey you will experience the ups and downs of bull and bear markets so it’s important to keep your eye on the long term.

The earlier you get to know your super and nurture it with additional contributions along the way, the more secure your later years will be.

Like all relationships, the more effort you put into understanding what makes super tick, the more you will get out of it.

Your employer is required to make Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions into your account of at least 9.5 per cent of your before-tax income. If you are self-employed you are responsible for making your own voluntary contributions, but these are tax-deductible.

Check your account

The first step is to check how much money you have in super and whether you have accounts you’ve forgotten about.

You can search for lost super and consolidate all your money into one fund if you have multiple accounts by registering with the ATO’s online services.i Having a single fund will avoid paying multiple sets of fees and insurance premiums.

The next step is to check what return you are earning on your money, how it is invested and how much you are paying in fees.

If you don’t nominate a super fund or investment option, your SG money is invested in the ‘Balanced’ or default option nominated by your employer. Balanced options typically have 60-75 per cent of their money invested in growth assets such as shares, with the remainder in bonds and cash.

Over the past 10 years, $100,000 invested in the median balanced option would have nearly doubled to $193,887, but there was a wide range of performance (see the graph below). The best performing balanced option returned $214,464 over the same period while the worst returned $156,590.ii

The difference between the best and worst performing funds could fund several overseas trips when you retire, so it’s worth checking how your fund’s returns and fees compare with others. You can switch funds if you are not happy, but it’s never wise to do so based on one year’s disappointing return. Super is a long-term investment so get in the habit of looking at your fund’s performance over five years or more and comparing its returns with similar products.

A decade of super returns

Source: Super Ratings

State your preferences

Default options are designed for the average member, but you are not necessarily average. Younger people can generally afford to take a little more risk than people who are close to retirement because they have time to recover from market downturns. So think about your tolerance for risk, taking into account your age, and see what investment options your super fund offers.

As you grow in confidence and have more money to invest you may want the control and flexibility that come with running your own self-managed super fund.

Also check whether you have insurance in your super. A recent report by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) found that almost one quarter of fund members don’t know they have insurance cover, potentially missing out on payouts they are entitled to.iii

Insurances may include Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) and Income Protection which you can access if you are unable to work due to illness or injury, and Death cover which goes to your beneficiaries if you die.

Building your nest egg

Once you understand how super works you can take your relationship to the next level by adding more of your own money. Small amounts added now can make a big difference when you retire.

You can build your super in several ways:

  • Pre-tax contributions of up to $25,000 a year (including SG amounts), either from a salary sacrifice arrangement with your employer or as a personal taxdeductible contribution. This is likely to be of benefit if your marginal tax rate is higher than the super tax rate of 15 per cent.
  • After-tax contributions from your takehome pay. If you are a low-income earner the government may match 50c in every dollar you add to super up to a maximum of $500 a year.
  • If you are 65 and considering downsizing your home, you may be able to contribute up to $300,000 of the proceeds into your super.

You could also share the love by adding to your partner’s super. This is a good way to reduce the long-term financial impact of one partner taking time out of the workforce to care for children. You can split up to 85 per cent of your pre-tax contributions with your partner. Or you can make an after-tax contribution and, if your partner earns less than $40,000, you may be eligible for a tax offset on the first $3,000 you put in their super.

Before you make additional contributions, adjust your insurance, or alter your investment strategy, it’s important to assess your overall financial situation, objectives and needs. Better still, make an appointment to discuss how you can build a positive long-term relationship with your super.

i https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/super/keeping-track-of-your-super/

ii https://www.superratings.com.au/2018/09/20/dont-panic-what-superannuation-is-teaching-the-post-gfc-world/

iii https://download.asic.gov.au/media/4861682/rep591-published-7-september-2018.pdf

The information posted is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided and the nature of the relevant financial product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) or other offer document prior to making a decision.

Don’t short-change your medium-term goals

Don’t short-change your medium-term goals

When it comes to setting financial priorities, medium-term goals often suffer from middle child syndrome, not taken as seriously as the oldest or indulged as much as the youngest.

The serious long-term goal of saving for retirement gets lots of attention, and rightly so. It’s super important. And next year’s trip to Bali will be so much fun, even if it does drain all your savings.

It’s little wonder there never seems to be enough money left over to save for those in-between things you hope achieve in the not-too-distant future. Things such as your children’s education, a home deposit, renovations or a new car.

Yet those medium-term goals – for spending approximately three to 10 years away – are just as important to the life you want to create for yourself and your family. So how can you make sure you’ve got them covered?

Getting started

The first step is to find time to think about your medium-term goals. Write them down with an estimate of what each will cost, your time frame and how much you need to save each month to achieve them. The more specific you can be the better.

These goals will differ depending on where you are in life, but whether you are 25 and saving a home deposit or 55 and wanting to buy a boat, you need a plan. Otherwise you might be tempted to use high interest loans and credit cards or simply borrow more than you can afford.

Next comes the reality check. To work out whether your medium-term goals are achievable, you need to take stock of your current financial situation. Tally your income and expenditure to calculate how much you can afford to save and invest each month. There are plenty of free apps and online calculators that will help you do this.

Also look at what you owe. If you have any high interest debt, such as an outstanding credit card balance, you might consider paying this off first as the interest rate is likely to be higher than the return you could earn on your savings.

Weighing risk and reward

Setting an investment time frame is important because it has a bearing on how much risk you can afford to take. That’s because the longer your investment horizon the more time to ride out short-term market fluctuations.

Say you are saving for a holiday next year. You can’t afford to risk losing money in a sharemarket correction, so you park your savings in the bank. The interest rate may be low, but your capital is guaranteed.

With medium-term goals you can afford to take a little more risk for a higher rate of return. For example, over the five years to June 2018, Australian shares returned 10.3 per cent a year on average, listed property 12 per cent and Australian bonds 4.4 per cent. Over the same period cash returned 2.2 per cent a year, barely above inflation of 1.9 per cent.i

Of course, the exact return you earn on your investments will change from year to year but historically shares and property do better over the medium to long term than cash or bonds.

Even so, the last thing you want is for your investment to fall 10 per cent just before you need to spend the money. One way to avoid this is to spread your savings across a range of investments and asset classes, reducing the risk of a large or untimely loss in any one of them.

Finding a home for your savings

Unlike long-term savings which are locked away in superannuation until you retire, you want your medium-term savings to be accessible. And unlike a bank savings account, you want an investment that will grow in value.

Alternatives you may wish to explore include managed funds and ETFs (exchange-traded funds). These options allow you to diversify your investments across the full range of asset classes and can be bought and sold whenever you want.

Some managed funds allow you to get started with a small initial investment and then make regular weekly or monthly contributions. Depending on how comfortable you are with risk, you could choose a ‘balanced’ fund with up to 70 per cent invested in shares and property and the rest in fixed interest and cash, a high growth fund with a larger allocation to shares and property, or a conservative fund weighted towards bonds and cash.

Another approach might be to set up a direct debit from your pay into a dedicated savings account and every time your balance reaches, say, $5000 invest in an ETF. Some of the new investment apps allow you to make regular contributions into ETFs tailored to your risk profile, from your smartphone.

If you would like us to help create an investment plan that includes all your important life goals, the long, the short and everything in between, give us a call.

Case study

A 5-year home run

Tom and Jess, both 26, want to save a deposit of $80,000 to buy their first home in five years’ time. They already have $10,000 in a joint savings account and decide to invest this in a managed fund.

They are comfortable with a relatively high level of risk without being too aggressive. So they select a diversified fund with 70 per cent in shares and property and the remainder in fixed interest and cash, with expectations of earning an average return of 6-7 per cent a year.

After drawing up a budget, they are confident they can afford to contribute an additional $220 a week ($110 each) into the fund which would see them reach their target.

This case study is fictional in nature and is not a reliable guide to future returns.

i ‘Where will your goals take you?’ Vanguard 2018 Index Chart, https://static.vgcontent.info/crp/intl/auw/docs/resources/2018-index-chart-brochure.pdf?20180913%7C160622

The information posted is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided and the nature of the relevant financial product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) or other offer document prior to making a decision.

Items of Interest

Items of Interest

Items of Interest

July 2021

It’s July, there’s a nip in the air and winter has well and truly set in, as Australia deals with…

Benefits of a super long engagement

Superannuation is a long-term financial relationship. It begins with our first job, grows during…

Don’t short-change your medium-term goals

When it comes to setting financial priorities, medium-term goals often suffer from middle child…

Items of Interest

Items of InterestRetirement CalculatorsPlanning your dream retirement can be an exciting time. The chance to travel overseas or around Australia without having to rush back to work, time to pursue new hobbies, learn a language or spend time with the grandkids. The...

Bonds, inflation and your investments

The recent sharp rise in bond rates may not be a big topic of conversation around the Sunday…

Is an SMSF right for you?

As anyone who has joined the weekend crowd at Bunnings knows, Australians love DIY. And that same…

Market movements & review video – June 2021

Stay up to date with what's happened in Australian and global markets over the past month. Our…

Winter 2021

It’s June which means winter has officially arrived. As we rug up and spend more time indoors,…

Items of Interest

Items of Interest

Items of InterestRetirement CalculatorsPlanning your dream retirement can be an exciting time. The chance to travel overseas or around Australia without having to rush back to work, time to pursue new hobbies, learn a language or spend time with the grandkids. The...

read more
Winter 2021

Winter 2021

It’s June which means winter has officially arrived. As we rug up and spend more time indoors,…

read more

Retirement Calculators

Planning your dream retirement can be an exciting time. The chance to travel overseas or around Australia without having to rush back to work, time to pursue new hobbies, learn a language or spend time with the grandkids. The possibilities are endless, but what will it cost?

How to Plan for The Future No Matter How Old You Are

Superannuation is a long-term financial relationship. It begins with our first job, grows during our working life and hopefully supports us through our old age.

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Bonds, inflation and your investments

Bonds, inflation and your investments

The recent sharp rise in bond rates may not be a big topic of conversation around the Sunday barbecue, but it has set pulses racing on financial markets amid talk of inflation and what that might mean for investors.

US 10-year government bond yields touched 1.61 per cent in early March after starting the year at 0.9 per cent.i Australian 10-year bonds followed suit, jumping from 0.97 per cent at the start of the year to a recent high of 1.81 per cent. ii

That may not seem like much, but to bond watchers it’s significant. Rates have since settled a little lower, but the market is still jittery.

Why are bond yields rising?

Bond yields have been rising due to concerns that global economic growth, and inflation, may bounce back faster and higher than previously expected.

While a return to more ‘normal’ business activity after the pandemic is a good thing, there are fears that massive government stimulus and central bank bond buying programs may reinflate national economies too quickly.

As vaccine rollouts gather pace, the OECD recently lifted its 2021 economic growth forecast for the global economy to 5.6 per cent, up from 4.2 per cent in December. Most of this is due to a doubling of its US growth forecast to 6.5 per cent, on the back of the Biden administration’s US$1.9 trillion stimulus package.iii

US 10-year bond yields vs Australian 10-year bond yields

Source: Reuters, CommSec

The OECD now expects Australia to grow by 4.5 per cent this year, up from its previous estimate of 3.2 per cent.iv

The risk of inflation

Despite short-term interest rates languishing close to zero, a sharp rise in long-term interest rates indicates investors are readjusting their expectations of future inflation. Australia’s inflation rate currently sits at 0.9 per cent, half the long bond yield.

To quash inflation fears, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe recently repeated his intention to keep interest rates low until 2024. The RBA cut official rates to a record low of 0.1 per cent last year and also launched a $200 billion program to buy government bonds with the aim of keeping yields on these bonds at record lows.v

Governor Lowe said inflation- currently 0.9 per cent – would not be anywhere near the RBA’s target of between 2 and 3 per cent until annual wages growth, currently at 1.4 per cent, rises above 3 per cent. This would require unemployment falling closer to 4 per cent from the current 6.4 per cent.

In other words, there’s some arm wrestling going on between central banks and the market over whose view of inflation and interest rates will prevail, with no clear winner.

What does this mean for investors?

Bond yields move in an inverse relation to prices, so yields rise as prices fall. Bond prices have been falling because investors are concerned that rising inflation will erode the value of the yields on their existing bond holdings, so they sell.

For income investors, falling bond prices could mean capital losses as the value of their existing bond holdings is eroded by rising rates, but healthier income in future.

The prospect of higher interest rates also has implications for other investments, normally tipping the balance away from growth assets such as shares and property to bonds and other fixed interest investments.

Shares shaken but not stirred

In recent years, low interest rates have sent investors flocking to shares for their dividend yields and capital growth. In 2020, US shares led the charge with the tech-heavy Nasdaq index up 43.6%. This was on the back of high growth stocks such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google – the so-called FAANGs – which soared during the pandemic.vi

It’s these high growth stocks that are most sensitive to rate change. As the debate over inflation raged, FAANG stocks fell nearly 17 per cent from mid to late February and remain volatile.

That doesn’t mean all shares are vulnerable. Instead, market analysts expect a shift to ‘value’ stocks. These include traditional industrial companies and banks which were sold off during the pandemic but stand to gain from economic recovery.

Property market resilient

Against expectations, the Australian residential property market has also performed strongly despite the pandemic, fuelled by low interest rates.

National housing values rose 4 per cent in the year to February, while total returns including rental yields rose 7.6 per cent. But averages hide a patchy performance, with Darwin leading the pack (up 13.8 per cent) and Melbourne dragging up the rear (down 1.3 per cent).vii

There are concerns that ultra-low interest rates risk fuelling a house price bubble and worsening housing affordability. In answer to these fears, Governor Lowe said he was prepared to tighten lending standards quickly if the market gets out of hand.
Only time will tell who wins the tussle between those who think inflation is a threat and those who think it’s under control. As always, patient investors with a well-diversified portfolio are best placed to weather any short-term market fluctuations.

If you would like to discuss your overall investment strategy, give us a call.

i Trading economics, viewed 11 March 2021, https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-bond-yield

ii Trading economics, viewed 11 March 2021, https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/government-bond-yield

iii https://www.reuters.com/article/us-oecd-economy-idUSKBN2B112G

iv https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/growth-prospects-for-australia-and-world-upgraded-by-oecd-20210309-p57973.html

v https://rba.gov.au/speeches/2021/sp-gov-2021-03-10.html

vi https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/31/stock-market-record-2020/

vii https://www.corelogic.com.au/sites/default/files/2021-03/210301_CoreLogic_HVI.pdf

The information posted is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided and the nature of the relevant financial product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) or other offer document prior to making a decision.

Is an SMSF right for you?

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 within the fund, plus 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 has been coming down and is currently between 35 and 44. Around half of all SMSF trustees own or have owned a small business and over 50 per cent have had their fund for over 10 years.i

They’re also dedicated. The majority of SMSF trustees say they spend 1 to 5 hours a month monitoring their fund.ii

But an SMSF is not for everyone. There has been ongoing debate about how much you need to have in your SMSF 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 a range of ongoing administration and investment costs. These can vary enormously depending on whether you do a lot of the administration and investment yourself or outsource to professional services providers.

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 costs of servicing direct property and higher administration costs for accounting and auditing.

Median total fees for SMSFs with and without direct property

Balance All funds Funds with no direct property Funds with direct property
$50,000 $2,002 $1,958 $9,352
$100,000 $2,298 $2,220 $9,003
$200,000 $2,898 $2,603 $10,398
$300,000 $3,140 $2,861 $10,044
$400,000 $3,235 $3,034 $9,887
$500,000 $3,339 $3,207 $9,969
$1 million $3,558 $3,476 $10,619
Over 5 million $12,461 $6,746 $32,641

Source: Rice Warner

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. It’s worth noting that 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. While returns will depend on the investments in your fund, average returns for the sector have tended to lag those for other types of super funds.iv

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.

In 2019, only 8.5 per cent of SMSFs held less than $100,000 in assets. Most of these small funds tend to grow quickly via ongoing contributions, or close, once retirees in pension phase wind down their fund.

Increased responsibility

While SMSFs offer more control, that doesn’t mean you can do as you like. Every member of your SMSF has legal responsibility for ensuring the fund 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.

Large super funds often provide life cover at discounted group rates. So to ensure you and your family are not left with inadequate insurance you may need to arrange new policies. Some people leave a small amount in their previous fund to maintain their cover.

If you would like to discuss your superannuation options and whether an SMSF may be suitable for you, don’t hesitate to call.

i 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

iv https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Research-and-statistics/In-detail/Super-statistics/SMSF/Self-managed-super-funds–A-statistical-overview-2017-18/?anchor=Investmentprofile#Investmentprofile

The information posted is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided and the nature of the relevant financial product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS) or other offer document prior to making a decision.