‘I want to reassure you, our members and contributing employers, that we are actively monitoring and managing these unprecedented circumstances to ensure that your hard-earned retirement savings continue to be well managed and in good hands.’ - David Elia, Chief Executive Officer
COVID-19 and your business
Visit page We have developed a dedicated Hostplus COVID-19 webpage for our contributing employers to access the latest information and resources to support their business and employees.
Hostplus’ guiding principle and its highest duty is to always act in the best interests of our members.
It’s often said that superannuation is, for the majority of people, a long-term investment. And this remains the case for the majority of Hostplus’ members.
For those members that are close to or in retirement today, there is an increased need to protect capital from shocks and setbacks that are difficult to make up over a shorter period. This is why Hostplus’ investment options are designed to cater for the different objectives, risk tolerances and timeframes of our members.
While the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global investment markets are particularly our focus presently, you can be assured that we have a team of dedicated professionals with the necessary skills and understanding to manage our portfolios through these uncertain times and through to the recovery of markets in time.
Until then, we’d encourage you to check in regularly here, where we will continue to keep you updated with the latest developments ensuring you have all the information you need to manage your retirement needs.
If you are experiencing a delay in your payment, please be assured we are working hard to ensure your money reaches you safely and securely. It’s important to understand that we aim to process payments within five working days of receiving approval of the application from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
The majority of applications will be processed within five working days. However, there are a number of reasons an application may be delayed. One of the main reasons is if there are inconsistencies in the application that require further checks for fraud. While most applications will ultimately pass these fraud checks, they are critical in ensuring that payments are processed securely. To date, our checks have protected a number of members’ accounts from fraudulent attempts.
Here are some steps you can take to help ensure your payment gets processed quickly:
There are also other reasons that an application may exceed the five-day turn-around, which include:
We understand it can be very frustrating to experience any delay in payment and we really appreciate your patience while we work through the more than 140,000 requests we have received since the early release scheme started. So far we have successfully paid 95% of these claims within five days. We have added additional staff to process applications as quickly as possible and they are working increased hours to help our members through this difficult time.
For Choiceplus members
If you are a Choiceplus member, you need to ensure that you have sufficient funds outside of your Choiceplus account to make the early release payment.
This is so that you can maintain the minimum required balance of $2,000 in one of your Hostplus premixed, sector, or individual manager investment options (as per the Choiceplus Investment Guide requirements).
Please note, the standard timeframe for the proceeds of security sales in Choiceplus to be credited to your Choiceplus Cash Account is ‘sale date + 2 days’. Once these funds are available, you can execute an instruction to transfer cash from your Choiceplus Cash Account back to another Hostplus investment option. These funds will be available in your Hostplus investment option two business days from the date of your transfer instruction.
Once your Hostplus account has sufficient funds available, we will process your special early release payment within three business days.
Step-by-step guide to transferring funds from Choiceplus to other Hostplus investment options:
For the financial year to date (1 July 2019 to 31 March 2020), the Hostplus default Balanced option has fallen by 8.8% in value. While this short-term performance is understandably unsettling for members, our core investment philosophy at Hostplus is to take a long-term approach consistent with the objectives and fundamental purpose of superannuation.
The Fund’s performance over longer periods is excellent. The default Balanced option has returned 5.47% p.a. over five years, 7.76% p.a. over seven years, 7.53% p.a. over ten years and 6.91% p.a. over twenty years, to 31 March 2020, net of investment fees.
While our strong historical performance is of course not a guarantee of future performance, it is instructive of the success of the Fund’s long-term investment strategy in recovering from prior periods of market volatility. Our investment portfolios are structured to seek to provide appropriate resilience and to help endure the unpredictability and instability currently being experienced in world investment markets.
If you have any concerns or are experiencing financial difficulty, we encourage all members to seek independent financial advice tailored to their specific objectives, financial circumstances and needs.
Since the end of February ‘20, financial markets around the world have experienced significant falls. Like most well diversified funds, Hostplus has investments across many diversified domestic and international markets. As a result, the value of the Fund’s collective investments has been adversely affected.
While the current downturn is certainly more severe than prior periods of volatility over the last decade, the present conditions are not entirely unexpected. Markets, by their nature, are prone to fluctuations and volatility. The Fund’s investment strategy relies to some degree on these forces operating in investment markets.
During March, and as is the case routinely, Hostplus considered the impact of the broader investment market and macro-economic circumstances in assessing and ensuring the underlying value of its assets were reflective of these environments and conditions. This was especially so for the Fund’s unlisted asset portfolios, which are not subject to the same day-to-day reactions and volatility of listed markets.
With this in mind, Hostplus worked closely with its investment managers and its asset consultant to appropriately value these unlisted assets and to ensure that investment unit prices reflect these circumstances in the best interests of all members.
As a result, Hostplus devalued assets within its Property and Infrastructure portfolios by a range of 7.5-10%, depending on the individual investment and the age of its most recent independent valuation. The Fund also devalued, for similar considerations and prudence, its Private Equity and Venture Capital investments by 15% on average.
These revaluations have already been included in the Fund’s unit pricing and reflected in members’ account balances.
Hostplus will continue to actively monitor and assess investment markets closely to ensure the pricing of our unlisted assets remains appropriate for the circumstances as they evolve and to ensure that all assets’ values reflect ‘fair value’ across all members’ balances.
Hostplus’ default Balanced option also has a significant allocation to what are known as growth assets. Growth assets, such as shares, typically perform better over the long term, but as we have witnessed recently, can be more volatile in the short term. This recent decline in the value of growth assets is another reason for the negative short-term investment performance of the default Balanced option.
One of the reasons we are able to invest in growth assets is that, on average, our members are relatively young compared to most other Industry SuperFunds. This means that they have a longer time frame to invest their money before reaching retirement.
During times like this, long-term performance should continue to be of critical importance to members. Hostplus is confident that our continued exposure to unlisted assets, and the longer-than-average investment horizons of our members, will see us well positioned to take advantage of the market recovery, helping members stay on track with their retirement goals.
We recognise that members may feel an understandable desire to protect their retirement savings from investment losses in falling or fallen markets, by switching investments to cash or similar defensive assets during periods of uncertainty and volatility.
We would stress, however, that subject to each member’s own individual circumstances, financial objectives and needs, switching from a broadly balanced investment option, or a growth orientated one held for many years, if not decades, until retirement, to cash should be treated with caution.
Individual members who switch to cash and thereby crystallise their otherwise interim losses during times of depressed unit prices often inevitably miss out on compounding growth of a broader range of diversified assets over the years to retirement. This opportunity cost may prove to be extremely high, so we caution and encourage every member to seek individual financial advice and consider their own circumstances before making such a decision.
Please allow up to 10 business days from the time you submit your application to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to the time you receive your funds to your nominated bank account.
After you have submitted your application with the ATO, you’ll receive an SMS or email from the ATO confirming that you have been approved for early access. The ATO will notify Hostplus within 4-5 working days, advising of the approved amount and the bank account to be used for electronic transfer.
Hostplus will process this withdrawal and initiate the bank transfer within 5 working days. However, this time may increase where we need to contact you to clarify information. You will receive an SMS from Hostplus to the mobile number listed on your Member Online account confirming the transfer to your bank account has been initiated. Please ensure we have your current mobile number. Once you have received Hostplus’ payment SMS, your bank can advise when this payment will be available in your nominated account.
Due to the rapidly changing events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a heightened risk that scammers and fraudsters will seek to take advantage of these occasions to exploit people’s vulnerabilities, confusion and anxiousness to attempt to embezzle and steal from Australians.
At these times, and especially under circumstances when people may be considering making application to withdraw some of their superannuation under current special early release provisions, increased levels of watchfulness and scrutiny need to be applied by everyone.
Hostplus has a range of controls and measures designed to protect your super. But there are also some important steps you can take to ensure your super stays safe now and into the future.
The government has announced that its early super access scheme will not commence receiving applications via the Australian Tax Office’s (ATO) Mygov portal until 20 April 2020. There is an increased risk in the lead-up and during this period that scammers may attempt to either assist you in an application or may pretend to be the ATO itself and seek personal details, including your bank account and superannuation fund details. If you are so contacted, receive a suspicious email or phone call relating to this, odds are it is unlikely to be genuine and instead someone trying to steal your personal details and your super.
Hostplus, like many major and well-diversified superannuation funds, invests in a wide range of assets which are both listed (e.g. securities held in public investment markets like stock exchanges); and unlisted, such as property, infrastructure (e.g. roads, airports, utilities and toll roads), private equity and venture capital (e.g. start-ups or developing private companies).
Hostplus has a long track record of successful unlisted asset investment. These assets have played an integral role in achieving long-term investment outcomes and objectives, and serving members’ best interests. Whilst this history is of course not a guarantee of future performance, we remain confident that our strategic and considered investment in unlisted investments across key sectors of our economy will provide a strong and reliable basis for future growth in the long-term.
During times of heightened listed market volatility, our investment in unlisted assets has played an important stabilising and diversification role in our core portfolios.
However, given that unlisted assets are not as ‘liquid’ as some other asset classes and are not listed or traded openly on listed markets in the same way as shares or bonds, they are valued using different valuation methodologies and practices compared to listed assets.
These valuations are typically carried out by independent valuers and undertaken on a regular basis.
While the full macro-economic impact of COVID-19 will not be fully understood for some time, it’s clear that certain infrastructure and property assets such as airports, toll roads, and shopping centres have been materially affected by the current crisis.
As a result, and taken as a broad category of assets, Hostplus’ unlisted investments would expectantly and realistically experience lower valuations in the current climate than they would ordinarily have had prior to the emergence of COVID-19 a few short months ago.
With this in mind, Hostplus has worked closely with its investment managers and its asset consultant to determine appropriate impacts on the valuations of these unlisted assets so as to ensure that these assets are measured and appropriate for the current circumstances. This in turn ensures that our investment unit prices appropriately reflect these circumstances in the best interests of all members.
As such, Hostplus has devalued assets within its Property and Infrastructure portfolios by a range of 7.5-10%, depending on the individual investment and the age of its most recent independent valuation. In a similar vein, Hostplus’ Private Equity and Venture Capital investments have also been devalued, for similar considerations and prudence, by 15% on average.
Asset devaluations are being experienced across all sectors of the economy. However, the current decreases in the valuations of Hostplus’ unlisted asset investments are, based on our analysis, less extreme compared to the current heightened volatility being experienced in listed markets. It is that long-term price stability which is a key positive attribute of our strategic investment in unlisted assets.
These revaluations have already been included in the Fund’s unit pricing and are reflected in members’ account balances.
Hostplus, alongside its professional asset managers and asset consultant, will continue to monitor investment markets closely to ensure the pricing of our unlisted assets remain appropriate for the circumstances as they evolve and to ensure that all assets’ values reflect ‘fair value’ across all member balances.
We recognise that members may feel an understandable desire to protect their retirement savings from investment losses in falling or fallen markets, by switching investments to cash or similar defensive assets during periods of uncertainly and volatility.
We also understand that many of our members have justifiable concerns regarding the ongoing impacts that these matters may have on their superannuation and pension balances.
It’s important to remember that historically those members who have refrained from switching between investment options during periods of decline in investment markets, both listed and unlisted, have been better positioned to rebuild their account balances once markets rebound. Of course, this a general proposition which does not take into account each member’s individual financial objectives, situation and needs.
So, before you make any decision about your superannuation or pension assets, we caution and encourage every member to seek individual financial advice and consider their own circumstances and financial objectives.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship as a result of loss of income caused by or related to COVID-19, there are a number of options available to you to help ease the financial burden during these challenging times.
The following are some points to think about and act on as applicable to assist you manage and hopefully alleviate your current financial circumstances:
You may also be eligible for financial assistance, financial counselling or access to some simple tools to help you plan for future:
But be especially cautious of so-called ‘payday’ lenders. It pays to be aware that many of these types of loans are offered at interest rates well above those offered by more credible lenders and may include significant additional costs as well as onerous penalties for late or missed payments.
According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) Moneysmart website, a $2,000 payday loan today could cost as much as $3,360 even if you paid it back within a year and did not incur any penalties.
When considering whether to make an application to the ATO for an early release of superannuation under the current special arrangements, you should first carefully consider and weigh-up that action versus the longer-term implications to your retirement savings that such a withdrawal may have.
While some members will undoubtedly benefit from a financial boost today, you need to also consider the potential cost to your future retirement savings. To calculate the potential impact on your retirement savings, you can use Moneysmart’s Super withdrawal estimator
Hostplus fully supports the Federal Government’s initiative to provide an early access arrangement for those in most need to do so, however we strongly encourage you to also fully explore all the hardship-related options that might be available to you, including Government support such as Centrelink benefits and payments. You should do so bearing in mind your individual circumstances, including your long-term financial situation, objectives and needs.
The Government is allowing individuals affected by the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in the 2019-20 financial year and up to a further $10,000 in the 2020-21 financial year.
While superannuation helps people save for retirement, the Government recognises that for those significantly financially affected by the Coronavirus, accessing some of their superannuation today may outweigh the benefits of maintaining those savings until retirement.
Eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020.
To apply for early release, you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:
Eligible temporary residents will also be able to apply to access up to $10,000 of their super before 1 July 2020.
To apply for early release as a temporary resident, you must satisfy one or more of the following requirements:
Members accessing their superannuation will not need to pay tax on amounts released through this scheme and the money withdrawn will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
Apply directly to the ATO through the myGov website: https://my.gov.au
The ATO is managing all applications and approval processes related to early access to your super, including your bank account details.
You need to confirm your bank account details and apply for early access to your super via the MyGov website at my.gov.au.
Once Hostplus has been notified that the ATO has approved your application your funds will be automatically transferred to your nominated account.
Separate arrangements will apply if you are a member of a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF). Further guidance will be available on the ATO website: www.ato.gov.au.
You will be able to apply for early release of your superannuation from 20 April 2020.
The Federal Government’s recently announced $130 billion ‘JobKeeper’ payment, to help keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the significant economic impact caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), has now been enacted.
Available to eligible businesses, charities and not-for-profits which have experienced specific reductions in turnover as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the payment can be used to support income payments to recently stood-down as well as continuing staff. This is to help eligible employers remain connected to their employees and assist businesses to resume quickly once the COVID-19 crisis is over.
The Government estimates that around 6 million workers may receive income support through their employer as a result of the JobKeeper scheme.
The $1,500 per eligible employee, per fortnight payment will be made available for full time and part time employees who were employed as at 1 March 2020 and for casual employees who have been employed on a regular and systematic basis for the previous 12 months.
The payment will also be available to eligible sole traders.
Payments will be distributed to employers by the ATO, with further distribution to workers facilitated through existing payroll infrastructure. It is understood that businesses are to receive payments from May 2020, backdated to 30 March 2020 and this support will continue for up to six months.
More information on the JobKeeper Payment, including eligibility criteria can be found via the Treasury coronavirus hub.
Minimum drawdown rates from pension accounts have been reduced by half for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years. The changes mean that members who do not wish to draw more than the new revised minimum annual limits — potentially requiring the sale of market-linked and other non-cash assets during this period of economic downturn — will not be required to do so.
The following reduced minimum draw-down rates will be applicable to both Account-based pension (ABP) and Transition to Retirement (TTR) pension accounts:
The following information applies to members who have elected to receive their Hostplus pension payments in line with the minimum government requirements.
All other pension members will continue to receive their Hostplus pension payments in line with their current instructions. If you would like to adjust your pension payment amounts, you can do so via Pension Online.
Financial year 2019 -2020
To avoid the unwanted cessation of pension payments (where members have already reached the reduced minimum draw-down amounts for the year), payments for the current financial year will continue as per the minimum draw down rates as at 1 July 2019 unless otherwise requested by members. Members who wish to adjust their pension payments in-line with the new reduced draw-down rates can elect to do so via their Pension Online account.
Financial year 2020 – 2021
For the financial year commencing 1 July 2020, all members who have elected to receive their pension payments in line with the government’s minimum requirements, will automatically receive pension payments at the new reduced minimum drawdown rates.
You can instruct Hostplus to make pension payments to you at an alternate rate or amount via Pension Online.
The updated minimum drawdown rates were announced on Sunday 22 March 2020 and came into immediate effect.
Hostplus offers and provides Salary Continuance insurance, which may help to protect your income if you can’t work because of illness or injury by providing regular monthly payments to contribute towards your living expenses.
Members that have Salary Continuance insurance, and who are temporarily unable to work due to contracting COVID-19 or another illness, may be eligible to claim a short-term regular payment to help meet their daily costs and expenses. To learn more, or review your existing insurance arrangements, login to Hostplus Member Online.
If you have existing Salary Continuance cover, and meet the following criteria, you may be able to make a claim:
You can submit a claim at any time. However, payments will only occur once you have been assessed by the insurer as meeting all eligibility criteria, including satisfying your waiting period (30, 60 or 90 days).
Please note, Salary Continuance insurance does not provide coverage against job-loss (temporary or otherwise), redundancy or incidences of being ‘stood down’. However, if you are unemployed or have been stood down under the Fair Work Act and subsequently suffer an injury or illness, you may still be eligible to make a Salary Continuance claim if you meet the criteria outlined above.
To learn more, or review your existing insurance arrangements, login to Hostplus Member Online. If you are eligible to make a claim please call us on 1300 803 745. Our dedicated claims team are here to help you through the process.
The Federal Government is allowing individuals affected by COVID-19 to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in the 2019-20 financial year and up to a further $10,000 in the 2020-21 financial year until 24 September 2020.
While superannuation helps people save for retirement, Hostplus recognises that, for some members who have been significantly financially affected by COVID-19, accessing some of their superannuation today may outweigh the benefits of maintaining those savings until retirement.
It is also important however for members to consider the possible impact early access to their superannuation may have on any automatic insurance provided as a part of their Hostplus membership.
On joining Hostplus, eligible members receive a default level of Death and Total & Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance.
Death insurance protects your loved ones if you die and provides financial peace of mind during a difficult time. TPD insurance provides support in the event of an accident or illness which prevents you from ever returning to work.
We encourage all members to pay particular attention to the impact an early withdrawal may have on their insurance cover. Please note that where an account balance reaches $0 due to a full withdrawal of retirement savings, the member’s account will be closed and any insurance cover will cease. Insurance cover may also cease on a member's account where there are insufficient funds to pay for premiums.
Employer-paid insurance premiums
Some employers make specific arrangements with Hostplus to pay their employees' insurance premiums directly to Hostplus.
Some members, known as “Low Balance Members” may need to take additional action to ensure their insurance cover continues if they are stood down or cease to be employed.
A Low Balance Member is a member whose account did not have a balance of at least $6,000 at any time between 1 November 2019 and 31 March 2020, and for new members joining Hostplus on or after 1 April 2020, since the date they became a member.
Employers may cease paying insurance premiums for employees who have been stood down or ceased employment with that employer. If you were or are a Low Balance Member, and your employer stops paying insurance premiums for you, any insurance cover you have may cease unless you have made an election to maintain it.
Refer to section 8.16.28 of the Hostplus PDS for a more detailed definition of a Low Balance Member.
Members who wish to change or manage their cover, including by requesting a decrease or increase in their level of insurance or cancellation of their insurance, can do so through Hostplus Member Online.
The information in this update is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation and needs. You should consider if this information is appropriate for you in light of your circumstances before making a decision.
We are, literally, all in this together. And we will continue to support our members, our contributing employers, our stakeholders and our community, in and through this challenging period.
We have made considerable changes to the way in which we are operating during these unprecedented times, so that we can continue to serve your needs to the high standard that you rightfully expect. Understandably, however, we are currently managing a much greater volume of member enquiries than normal and as such you may experience greater wait times for phone-based assistance.
With this in mind, we encourage you to make non-urgent enquiries via other channels, such as our online enquiry form. We also ask our members to consider self-service options for basic account management inquiries and actions, such as address updates, via Hostplus Member Online and Hostplus Pension Online.
Be sure to check back here for regular updates as they unfold.
The information in this update is general in nature. Consider your own objectives, financial situation and needs, which are not accounted for, before making a decision.