The Centre receives hundreds of questions and enquiries from ADF members and their families on a wide variety of financial topics. Superannuation is at the top (the other one being how to choose a suitable financial adviser).
There’s no avoiding the fact that superannuation is a complex and ever-changing topic. So it’s no wonder that many people become confused and are inclined to switch off when they hear terms like “defined benefit”, “accumulation”, “hybrid”, “salary sacrifice”, “stapling”, “choice”, “preservation” and “conditions of release”.
This reaction, while completely understandable, is a great pity. That’s because superannuation is likely to be a person’s second largest asset in retirement after their own home. And with a reported diminishing rate of home ownership in Australia, superannuation may be the largest retirement asset of an increasing proportion of Australians.
Therefore, we make the point in our education programs, especially (but not only) to younger ADF members, that it’s worthwhile devoting time to developing an understanding of your military superannuation entitlements. This includes (recognising that superannuation is a long term investment) taking action to maximise those savings while you can and time is on your side.
As a contribution to improving ADF members’ understanding of superannuation in a military context, we have reworked and simplified the superannuation section of our website. That section is now centred on two sets of superannuation FAQs or Frequently Asked Questions.
The first section is for new starters in the ADF. It contains 14 FAQs, ranging from “What is superannuation?”, through to simple explanations of “choice”, “stapling”, “ADF Super/ADF Cover”, to a list of trusted and independent links which will be useful if an enquirer wishes to explore some of the issues in more depth.
The second section is for people re-entering the ADF. It contains four basic questions that are regularly asked concerning the status of previous military superannuation accounts and future superannuation entitlements.
While the FAQs are designed for new entrants and re-entering members, there is sure to be something in there of interest for all enquirers, no matter the stage of a person’s career.
The FAQs don’t cover every conceivable question that will arise. But they are a strong foundation on which to build an understanding of your superannuation entitlements. This may be undertaken through private research, regular contact with your superannuation trustee (e.g., the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation) to action such things as investment decisions and additional contributions, and through seeking professional advice.
This includes a description of the types of advice, its cost, questions to ask of advisers, a short film explaining conflicts of interest in the industry and a list of licensed financial advisers who have made certain undertakings to Defence about their professional and ethical standards.
Remember that no one will ever look after your money with as much personal interest as you do. That includes your superannuation. Therefore, taking the time to understand and grow your super and, if you feel you need it, seeking out trusted professional advice to assist you, are likely to pay big dividends by the time you need to access those hard-earned savings in retirement.
Check out our other articles on a range of helpful topics