Less than super: Women's retirement balances are still less than men
It's International Women's Day on March 8 and this year we're turning the spotlight onto how women have fared in the superannuation equality stakes.
Women make up half the country yet, alarmingly, own only $4 of every $10 held in super. And age doesn't seem to be a factor - women make up 50% of millennials yet own just 42% of all millennial super; and women make up 53% of retirees yet own just 44% of all retiree super.
It doesn't mean women are denied a right to share in this wealth, it's just that as a group they face more obstacles than men to get that share. But slowly this is changing.
Women own $1.2 trillion in super, dominating some of the biggest and best-value funds. According to the super regulator APRA, the most popular fund is Rest. More than 1.1?million of its 1.8?million members are female and they account for almost two-thirds of the retail employees it serves.
Rest is also the most popular fund for young women, with 660,000 as members. This makes it almost twice as popular among women as the number two favourite, HostPlus, with AustralianSuper, Sunsuper and HESTA not far behind.
Other funds, however, have a bigger share of female members: 85% for Guild Super, 79% for HESTA, 77% for Mercy Super, 75% for Victorian Independent Schools Super, 74% for Australian Catholic Super and 71% for NGS Super.
These are the funds that support the industries women dominate: retail, health and education.
Aware Super is the most popular fund for retired women, followed closely by Colonial First State, AustralianSuper, HESTA and the AMP-owned North Superannuation platform. But a fund isn't necessarily the best choice for women simply because it has a high number of female members or because it offers women a temporary fee discount. A super fund is a good choice for a woman simply because it's a good fund.
It should be among the best at delivering the basics: consistently strong investment returns, low fees and fair-value insurance and is easy to deal with.
It's no surprise that Rest's investment returns are in the top 20 over 10 years and that Verve Super over the past year delivered twice the market average.
Women already face their fair share of financial obstacles in life without having to deal with or be exploited by a dud super fund. It's good to see female-dominated funds performing more strongly.