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Archives for September 2018

Compare the Pair

This recent article in the Australian Financial Review provided an insight into how some retail and industry super funds are marketing their products as “Balanced” when in reality the profile of the funds looks more like a “Growth” product.

This is misleading in the extreme and something worthy of exploring given a “growth” portfolio carries more risk but will, all things being equal, outperform a “balanced” alternative over the investment horizon more often than not, yet “growth” is marketed as “balanced”.  This has escaped media attention…until now.

The article further supports a fact one of our advisors established earlier this year when a client questioned the performance of the balanced portfolio we constructed and managed with the returns of a “balanced” super fund, which were superior.  Some investigative work revealed the “balanced” super fund was indeed “growth” oriented and more appropriate for the risk tolerant investor.  It was hardly comparing “apples with apples”.

In the low interest rate environment that seems like has been around forever, the returns investors are able to generate from the defensive asset class have been front & centre as a topic for discussion.  The income investors have been able to generate from this asset class has been belted, which has seen an increase of flows into “passive” or index-based investments as investors chase better returns.  However, this “passive” index-based investing artificially inflates the share price of a company whose fundamentals otherwise might suggest they are not performing quite so well.  When global interest rates normalise as has started to happen, all things being equal, companies with poor fundamentals will get sold off, and quickly.  To quote one of the greatest investors in history, “only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked”.

Back on the article…it lists the top 60 performing super funds with an asset allocation of 61-80% into growth assets i.e.; Australian & international equities, commercial property and infrastructure assets.  Some of the funds listed are designed to “hug” the index to keep administration costs down.  Fees are an emotional issue and under the spotlight given the revelations provided at the ongoing Royal Commission.

The problem with index hugging is it involves no active stock picking but rather, capital is deployed into each company comprising the index in line with their weighting thereof.  As indicated above, this can artificially inflate the share price of a poor company you might otherwise not invest in.

The returns shown in the article are net of investment fees & tax but before administration fees and are provided over 1, 5 & 10 years.  The median return of those top 60 “growth” super funds over 10 years is 6.6%, before admin fees.

I thought that was an interesting number as the portfolios I’ve seen since I started with The Investment Collective stacked up very well against that 6.6% median return for “growth”.

Digging into PAS, our portfolio management system, the first growth profile I randomly selected has achieved a return net of fees since inception of 11.26%, the second 7.68%, the third 13.58%, the fourth 7.89%, the fifth 7.54%, the sixth 8.31%, and the seventh 13.96%.

I then wanted to “compare the pair” with how some of our truly balanced portfolios have performed since inception.  The first portfolio has returned 6.18% net of fees, the second 7.35%, the third 7.27%, the fourth 7.25%, the fifth 6.47%, the sixth 6.82%, and the seventh 6.55%.

Whilst the social agenda these days in this instantaneous world concentrates on the “here & now”, with investing, long-term returns are what matter most.  The effect of compounding returns on wealth accumulation over time warrants the need to take a long-term view.

We actively manage client portfolios as many of you already know.  Whilst we don’t get it right 100% of the time, I’ll let you make your mind up on “comparing the pair”…especially so given we provide full transparency around what we do and how we do it.

Please note that this article provides general advice. It has not taken your personal or financial circumstances into consideration. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today.

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Super, Death & Taxes: What You Need To Know

There are strategies to ensure your children get the maximum benefits.

Since its inception, many baby boomers have accumulated big super balances. In some cases, their super balances may be approaching, or even exceed, the value of the family home. But unlike the home, which is free of death taxes, super’s 17% death benefit tax applies to adult children. There are, however, strategies to reduce its impact. First, you need to understand;

  • Which beneficiaries will be taxed;
  • How they will be taxed; and
  • What you can do about it.

Basically, no tax is payable on super death benefits directed to your spouse, including de facto, someone financially dependent on you, a child under 18 (or older if a financially dependent student) or someone you have an interdependency relationship with. The rest get taxed.

When your money goes into super, it is broken down into a taxable component and a tax-free component. The taxable component is comprised of all pre-tax contributions (i.e. your employer’s super guarantee, salary sacrifice or any contributions you have claimed a tax deduction on) and the earnings generated on the taxable component. The only proportion that is tax-free is your after-tax non-concessional contributions.

Death benefits tax will only apply to money in the taxable component of super. Tax payable on the taxable component is 15% plus the 2% Medicare levy. The Medicare levy can be avoided if the death benefit is paid through the deceased estate.

One common strategy to minimise the tax is to withdraw an amount from super and recontribute it as a non-concessional contribution. By doing so you, you are converting the taxable component into a tax-free component. The rules are complex so it’s recommended you seek advice. It all comes down to whether you are eligible to take out a lump sum and then whether you are eligible to recontribute it.

Other strategies involve pulling money out of super and into your personal bank account. It is then paid out to the beneficiaries as per the distribution of the Will and there is no tax. This option can be useful especially if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Again, be careful, as there can be tax consequences of pulling large amounts of money out of super and leaving it in your own name.

Given the complexity of the rules, it is vital you get professional advice first.

Please note the above is provided as general advice, it has not taken your personal or financial circumstances into consideration. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today.

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