We dedicate decades of our lives to working. It’s not just our time and physical effort that our jobs and employers demand of us over the years, but our mental and emotional investment.
So, when we come to our retirement, we want to – and should be entitled to – enjoy the relaxation we have earned and have confidence in our financial security. But for those whose superannuation has been in the hands of for-profit funds throughout their working lives, a stable and sustainable retirement is an unlikely reality. Instead, Australians are finding that the fund they’ve entrusted with their hard-earned retirement savings has far from their best interests at heart.
This was brought to light during the financial services royal commission, which revealed that for-profit superannuation funds (governed by self-motivated, independent non-executive directors) consistently fail to act in the interests of the workers whose life savings they are charged to protect. In other words, they rort the system for personal gain, profiteering on workers’ retirement futures.
Fortunately, there is an alternative: industry super funds. Superannuation for all workers was fought for long and hard by the union movement to eventually become law 1992. A part of this campaign was establishing industry super funds, ensuring that the life savings of working Australians are going into the right hands.
Instead of operating a for-profit corporate model, industry funds are made up of union-appointed representatives working with employer representative directors who make decisions purely in the interests of fund members. They do not charge exorbitant fees, nor do they pay sales commissions. The purpose and culture of these funds adheres to exactly what superannuation should serve to do: delivering you the best possible savings for when you retire.
Unions and industry super funds mean that workers can place their trust in non-profit models purely designed to benefit them. The most important way to protect your retirement is to check if you’re with an industry super fund. And the most important way to protect your working life – while protecting the future of Australia’s superannuation model – is to join your union.