On average, women aged 60-64 retire with around 23% less super than men¹ but live five years longer.² This is known as the gender super gap. So, we’ve put together some simple steps to help you make the most of your super.
Why do women retire with less super than men?
A recent study by Monash Business School, the University of WA and the University of Warwick found that the driving factor behind the gender super gap is contributions³, with women receiving lower super contributions than men throughout their life. Why is this?
Women earn less
Women working full-time earn 18% less than men. And, with 43% of women working part-time, they’re more likely to earn even less money because of reduced hours.² In fact, the gender pay gap for total earnings across all employees (including part-time) is 31.3%, with women earning an average of $486.20 less per week than men.⁴ Women also earn significantly less than men at the beginning of their careers (24-26 years), which means they’re already behind when it comes to saving for retirement.³
Catching up is difficult
Taking time off work means women miss out on receiving regular super contributions, which can make it even harder to close the super gap. Divorced women are even more disadvantaged; research found that divorced women with children had 68% less super than married mothers, and 37% less super than divorced dads.⁵
As Dr Carly Moulang from Monash Business School’s Department of Accounting says, “even if women return to work in their 40s after having children, they cannot make up early salary inequity”.³ This means that women are more dependent than men on the government Age Pension. And, what’s more, women have an average longer life span than men², so their retirement savings need to stretch further.
How much do you need for retirement?
According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), a single woman will need $545,000 for a comfortable retirement⁶, which would enable an older, healthy retiree to have a good standard of living that includes regular leisure activities, some domestic and occasional international travel, and top private health insurance.
What can you do to close the gap?
It’s never too late – or too early – to take some simple steps so you can be in control of your retirement savings and build the retirement you want and deserve.
1. Get to know your super
It might be easy to just ‘set and forget’ your super (particularly if you’re young) but familiarising yourself with your super can help it grow. Do you know, for example, how much Superannuation Guarantee contributions you should be receiving from your employer and are they paid on time? Does your super include insurance, and are you paying for the right cover? Is your super invested in the right options that match your risk profile and life stage? A little research now will help you in the long term.
2. Consolidate your super
After you’ve done some basic checks on your super, consider consolidating your super into one account. By consolidating your accounts, you could reduce the fees you pay which helps maximise the amount you can invest. And depending on your situation, consolidating may help you save on insurance premiums too.
Before consolidating, compare the fees, performance and other features of each fund and check whether you’ll lose any benefits or be charged a fee for closing an account. Importantly, if you do close an account, you’ll lose any insurance attached to that account. You may find it beneficial to obtain advice from a licensed financial adviser.
3. Try our Retirement Projection Calculator
Use our Retirement Projection Calculator to check you’re on track for a comfortable retirement. Answer a few simple questions and our calculator can estimate how much super you may have at retirement. It can also help you make informed decisions about your super.
4. Review your investment option(s)
The way your super is invested can make a big difference to your nest egg by the time you’re ready to retire. We offer a wide range of investment options with different levels of risk and return targets. When deciding which option is right for you, it’s important to carefully consider factors such as your financial objectives, risk appetite, age and investment time frame.
Unless you specifiy which investment option you want, contributions to your super are automatically invested in the Balanced (MySuper) option.
5. Consider making additional contributions
Your employer contributions are important but there are other ways you can increase your retirement balance. Additional contributions, no matter how large or small, can make a big difference over time. Starting additional contributions at any age will build your balance with the benefit of compound interest.
Compound interest is, in a nutshell, interest on interest. Your super is invested with the goal of earning returns over time to grow your retirement savings. Any interest earned in one year gets added onto your balance, which is then reinvested and is ready to earn interest in the following year.
The following table shows how compound interest can work if you added a small amount to your super each week.
|If you start adding $25 a week to your super||From age 20||From age 30||From age 40|
|Total amount added||$58,500||$45,500||$32,500|
|Extra benefit at retirement||$207,610||$117,416||$62,045|
Earnings are calculated at a compound interest rate of 5% p.a. with amounts being fully invested until age 65. These assumptions are for illustrative purposes only and don’t account for fees and tax. Investment returns are not guaranteed. Returns can be higher or lower than set out in this example. This is not a prediction or estimate of actual retirement savings. Source: ASIC Money Smart Compound Interest Calculator, March 2023.
Examples of additional super contributions include:
- After-tax contributions (also known as non-concessional contributions). You can make extra payments to your super using your take-home pay or savings in your bank account. How much and how often you make these contributions is up to you, but annual limits apply.
- Spouse contributions and splitting. Tax offsets may apply for a spouse who contributes super on behalf of a low-income earning or non-working spouse. Your spouse can also divert some of their super contributions to your super account. Eligibility terms apply.
- Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset (LISTO). Low-income earners may be eligible to receive a refund into their super account of the tax paid on their eligible super contributions, up to a cap of $500.
- Government co-contributions. If you’re a low or middle-income earner and make after-tax super contributions, you may be eligible to receive a co-contribution into your super from the government of up to $500.
- Salary sacrifice. Contributions to your super from your before-tax salary are taxed at 15%, lower than most people’s personal tax rate. Limits apply.
6. Nominate a beneficiary
Nominating a beneficiary can help your super, pension or any insurance benefits go to the right person, or people, after you pass away. Learn more about beneficiaries here.
7. Expecting a baby?
Hostplus members can apply for premium-free insurance cover during parental leave.7 Learn more about the parental leave premium waiver here.
Read our ’Women and super’ fact sheet for more tips on how you can power up your super.
Your money. Your super. Your Hostplus.
Hostplus can work with you to ensure you’re always making the most of your super. From insurance through to investment choices, transition-to-retirement strategies and nominating beneficiaries, we can help you achieve the retirement you want.
Stay connected with your super
We know how important it is to have easy access to your account. That’s why you get 24/7 online access. Check your balance, update your details and even change your investment strategy, all from our secure Member Online portal and Hostplus app.
Financial advice and planning
Wherever you are in life, the right financial advice can give you the confidence, guidance, and clarity you need to help set up, and meet, your financial goals.
At Hostplus, we offer a range of options to ensure you get the right level of advice to suit you8:
We’re here to help.
If you have any questions, call us on 1300 467875, 8am – 8pm AEST /AEDT, Monday to Friday or contact us online.
The information in this article is correct as at time of publication.
Balances_Research.pdf. “Developments in account balances. Superannuation account balances for various demographic groups.” Ross Clare, Director of Research, ASFA, March 2022 – page 4.
2. Source: moneymag.com.au/women-retiring-half-super
4. Source: WGEA, Gender pay gap fact sheet, August 2021
5. Source: Laurie Brown, ‘Divorce: For richer, for poorer’, AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report
6. Source: ASFA Retirement Standard March 2021, superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard
7. Grandfathered Intrust Super PayGuard and Club Super SalarySafe insurance arrangements are not eligible for the parental leave premium waiver.
8. Hostplus has engaged Industry Fund Services Limited (IFS) ABN 54 007 016 195, AFSL 232514 to facilitate the provision of personal financial advice to members of Hostplus. Advice is provided by financial planners who are Authorised Representatives of IFS. Fees may apply for personal financial advice; for further information about the cost of personal advice, you can speak with your financial planner or visit our website hostplus.com.au. Information to help you decide whether you want to use personal financial advice services being offered is set out in the relevant IFS Financial Services Guide, a copy of which is available from your financial planner. Hostplus has engaged Link Advice Pty Ltd ABN 36105 811 836, ASFL 258145 to facilitate the provision of limited personal financial advice to members of Hostplus via the web-based product SuperAdviser.