Consolidating your super: Here’s what you need to know

Man on laptop looking to consolidate superannuation.

It’s easy to forget about our superannuation, or assume it’s all being taken care of and not in need of our attention. But if you’ve got money across several funds you could be paying much more than you need to be.

It’s not uncommon for super accounts to be opened for us when we commence a new job, and considering the average person goes through multiple ones throughout their career, it’s possible to accumulate multiple accounts over your lifetime.

Different funds have different approaches to investing your money, so there might be some value in keeping more than one account open. But if you prefer to roll over money across several accounts into a single high-performing fund, here’s how to do it.

Through myGov

If you haven’t already, create a myGov account and link it to the Australian Tax Office. Once linked, you’ll be able to view all your super accounts in one place, sparing you from having to chase up individual super funds to inquire about your money.

From there, all you have to do is select the fund you want to transfer money to and the fund you want to transfer money from, and myGov will handle the rest. Just remember to find out if your fund charges any exit fees or if you stand to lose any benefits like insurance cover first. To recap:

  1. Log in to myGov, or create an account if necessary
  2. Link your myGov account to the ATO
  3. Go to 'super'
  4. Find and transfer your super from the funds listed.

Contact your fund directly

The other way to consolidate your super is by getting in touch with your preferred fund and asking them to identify any money you have elsewhere and roll it over. This process is fairly simple and won’t cost you anything (super funds are only happy to help, as higher balances mean more earned in fees).

Alternatively, your fund may allow you to consolidate your super on its website. If so, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Make sure your fund has your TFN so they can search for funds in other accounts
  3. Select the ‘consolidate super’ option
  4. Find and transfer your super from the funds listed.

Sometimes super funds will proactively contact members and offer to consolidate accounts on their behalf. While this might be helpful, make sure to do your research first. You might find that another fund you’re using offers much better returns, in which case you’d be better off contacting them.

What about lost or unclaimed super?

If you’ve ever lived overseas or changed your name, address or job, you may have lost or unclaimed super. If so, it will either be held by the super fund or transferred to the ATO for safekeeping. 

To retrieve it you can go through the same steps detailed above. Log on to myGov, or give your current super fund permission to search the ATO register and fetch it themselves. Your lost or unclaimed super money can then be transferred into your active super account.

What if I’m not happy with any of my current super funds?

If you’re not getting the best returns from any of your current super funds, it may be time to sign up for a new one. Look at the investment performance of various funds over several years and try to narrow your search down to ones that combine strong returns with minimal fees. 

You should also think about your preferred investment strategy. For example, if you’re in your twenties you may be more inclined towards a high-risk investment strategy, whereas if you're approaching retirement, concerns about losing a chunk of your savings overnight might push you towards a low-risk option instead.

Why should I consolidate my super anyway?

To save money: A big reason people consolidate their super is to avoid paying multiple sets of fees. These include administration fees (which can be a flat fee, a percentage of your account balance, or both) and investment fees (which are charged as a percentage of your balance).

If you receive life insurance through your super, your premiums will also be automatically deducted from your balance. That means if you have multiple funds open you could be paying for the same insurance cover several times over, needlessly chipping away at your retirement savings.

To save time:
Along with eliminating unnecessary fees, the other benefit of rolling your accounts into one is it’s more efficient. After all, it’s much easier to manage your super if it’s with one fund rather than spread out across several, and with that complexity reduced, you might find you’re more motivated to get on top of your retirement savings than you were before.