Investing your super
Wondering how investing and superannuation work together? Our team explains.
A managed fund invests your money in different asset classes (like shares, cash or fixed interest) with the aim of generating financial returns and helping you, the investor, grow the amount of money you have – whatever your financial goals. But how are profits from a fund distributed to you?
A managed fund generates income from its investments – for example, through share dividends, interest on cash or fixed interest investments in the fund, or any gains made when fund investments (like shares) are sold. So in short, a distribution is profit or income made by a fund and paid to investors.
Managed investment funds are required to pay all realised income and capital gains to investors for the financial year. Income can be paid monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly, depending on the fund. You may receive your distribution as a cash payment – for instance, as a payment to your designated bank account – or as an amount that is reinvested back into the fund. As an investor, you should also receive a statement that outlines the amounts (and types) of income generated by the fund and distributed to you, which may be helpful at tax time.
A distribution can be calculated as follows:
When you invest in a fund, you’re pooling your money with other investors to access a professionally managed portfolio of investments overseen by skilled investment managers. In exchange, you’re allocated a number of units that correspond to how much money you’ve invested – based on the fund’s unit price at the time of investment.
When you receive a distribution for the income generated by a fund’s investments, the value of the fund reduces by the amount of the total distribution. This results in a lower unit price because income from the fund’s investments is being paid from the fund to investors, reducing the total value of the fund’s assets – a figure that is divided by the total number of units owned in the fund to determine the unit price. This doesn’t mean you’ve lost money on your investment or that your investment in a particular fund has changed – rather, you retain the same number of units in the fund, which has simply decreased in value by the amount of the distribution paid to you. Distributions that are reinvested back into a fund are used to acquire more units in it. This means the value of your investment should not fall as you will be allocated additional units.
While managed investment options (funds) outside of super pay distributions to investors, investment options within super do not. That’s because there is a different structure – and purpose for – super, which members can’t access until retirement. Generally, super balances fluctuate higher and lower over time depending on the contributions members make and the performance of the funds their super is invested in. Investment options within super contribute to super balances through the unit price, which changes daily based on the performance of each fund’s investments. Effectively, the distribution amount is retained in your super and forms part of your super balance, which over time can be used to acquire more investments in the options your super is invested in.