Super top-ups boost savings to $3.5tn

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Voluntary member contributions helped push the superannuation asset pool to a new record of $3.5 trillion at the end of 2021.

The latest statistics from the prudential regulator show total superannuation assets grew 14% to $3.47 trillion year on year.

Member contributions jumped a whopping 59% or $36.4 billion as a function of COVID-19-induced activities, such as the booming amount of cash Australians have saved up during lockdowns, border closures and stronger engagement with financial advice.

"This can be observed in quarterly inflows over the year for personal contributions which have been at elevated levels compared to previous years," APRA said.

Overall, contribution flows during 2021 netted $58.5 billion, reflecting a large increase that factors in the completion of the early release of super scheme withdrawals as well as growth in total contributions.

Most APRA-regulated assets comprised MySuper products of $950.1 billion, which recorded the highest year-on-year growth rate of 18%. Self-managed super funds hit $876.7 billion, experiencing the next biggest movement of 13% over the year.

Within the sectors, industry funds inched closer to the $1 trillion mark at $969.2 billion, growing 19% year on year.

In the SMSF sector, the Australian Tax Office's latest December 2021 quarterly figures reveal that 6788 funds were set up and only 163 shut down, leaving a net total of 601,906 active SMSFs at the end of the year.

Cryptocurrency is gaining prominence among SMSFs as some $227 million is allocated to this asset class, rising steadily from $194 million in June 2019, when members first began investing in digital assets.

Overseas managed investments and residential property assets worth $1.9 billion and $472 million respectively comprised the majority of the SMSF asset pool.

Large amounts are also invested in listed shares ($241m), overseas non-residential property ($184), unlisted trusts ($115m) and cash and term despots ($148m).

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Karren Vergara is a financial journalist with Financial Standard, covering wealth management, including superannuation, banking and financial planning. Prior to becoming a journalist, she was an accountant for more 10 years. She has a diploma in journalism and Bachelor's degree in business, both from UTS.

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