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The top ten truths of investing

Wondering how investing and superannuation work together? The Colonial First State investments team offers insight on the investing basics by revealing the top ten truths of investing for super.

Super is not some set-and-forget savings account

Super is a tax-effective way of saving, but unlike a savings account, it is not a set-and-forget scheme. Since super is one of the biggest investments you will ever make and is reliant on different factors to grow, paying attention to it can pay off. Understanding your fund’s investment strategy and whether it aligns with your circumstances is just one way to maintain oversight of your super.


Switching your investments during market movements can put you at risk

Super is for the long term, and comprises investments that are designed to help members ride out short-term losses as they grow retirement savings. According to findings on member behaviour, investors may be better off remaining invested when markets are volatile.*  Reacting to events that have already occurred can mean they lock in losses or miss out on gains when markets stabilise, as well as increase the risks associated with switching between growth and conservative assets in an effort to ‘time’ conditions – potentially impacting the long-term value of one’s super fund. 


But while super is long term, you should still review (and adjust) your portfolio over time

If you aren’t invested in a lifecycle super option which moves your money from growth to conservative assets as you age, it may be worthwhile reviewing your risk tolerance and asset allocation to align your portfolio with the needs of your current life stage. For example, the needs of a working professional versus a retiree could differ, as may the composition of their portfolios – where one may have more capacity for riskier growth assets, while the other may prefer more defensive holdings.


Research can help you make more informed decisions

While past performance is never an indicator of future performance, research could help you uncover opportunities in your investment portfolio. This may include keeping across market conditions, exploring different investment options and learning about the experience of management teams for insights on what holdings may be contributing to or detracting from returns.


You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket

In an ever-changing investment environment, the diversification of assets in your portfolio could balance loss in one area with growth in another to generate your overall returns. For example, over the September 2019 quarter, members saw that an allocation to FirstChoice Wholesale Australian Share returned 2.50% after fees and taxes, while an allocation to FirstChoice Wholesale Global Share – Hedged returned -0.74%. A portfolio that was diversified across both options would have resulted in a more balanced outcome for the quarter.


As a member, you have more power than you think

Through forums and general meetings, hands-on investors like SMSF members or investment managers can have a meaningful impact on companies. Colonial First State appoints skilled investment managers to make decisions on how to vote on investment issues on behalf of our members. For SMSF members, however, it can be helpful to participate in these opportunities as they could impact the value of their investments.


Understand what you’re paying for and why

Investing can be complex and requires the expertise of a team to skilfully review and manage investments on behalf of members – but the fees involved could impact the long-term value of your super. What you may pay for an investment will be outlined in your option’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). Make sure to learn about the possible fees and costs involved by reading the PDS or speaking to your adviser.


Consider all the facts and seek help

As one of the most widely used tools for analysis, the price-to-earnings ratio (or P/E Ratio) can help hands-on members identify whether stocks are over/undervalued and how they compare to others within the same industry or benchmark. But while helpful, the ratio is only one part of the equation. Identifying risks and opportunities can be tricky and time-consuming. That’s why many investors harness the knowledge of investment professionals who know where – and how – to look.


Keep an open mind

Bigger companies don’t always present a better and safer investment. The small companies sector is just one market segment that could offer exposure to untapped opportunities with potential growth and returns. Over the last decade, FirstChoice Wholesale Australian Small Companies (which has delivered a positive net return of 9.0% after fees and superannuation tax) has exceeded the 7.3% return of FirstChoice Australian Share.# 


You don’t have to do it all yourself

Colonial First State has helped more than a million Australians with their superannuation, investment and retirement needs. Our investments team works alongside some of the world’s leading managers to skilfully identify and action the best possible investment opportunities for members. So whether you’re a new member or a more experienced member, help is at hand.  Contact us on 13 13 36, or speak to your adviser for more information.


Information on this webpage is provided by Avanteos Investments Limited ABN 20 096 259 979, AFSL 245531 (AIL) and Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (CFSIL). It may include general advice but does not consider your individual objectives, financial situation, needs or tax circumstances. You can find the Target Market Determinations (TMD) for our financial products at, which include a description of who a financial product might suit. You should read the Financial Services Guide (FSG) available online for information about our services. This information is based on current requirements and laws as at the date of publication.

Tax considerations are general and based on present tax laws and may be subject to change. You should seek independent, professional tax advice before making any decision based on this information.

AIL and CFSIL are not registered tax (financial) advisers under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and you should seek tax advice from a registered tax agent or a registered tax (financial) adviser if you intend to rely on this information to satisfy the liabilities or obligations or claim entitlements that arise under a tax law.