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November 2020 Newsletter

November is here and it’s shaping up as a big month at home and abroad. As the Melbourne Cup field burst out of the gates on Tuesday, the Reserve Bank is widely tipped to announce a cut in the cash rate. And then there’s the US election on Wednesday (Australian time), which is still an open race.

The Federal Budget on October 6 was the start of a pivotal month on the economic scene. Budget estimates released later in the month revealed a deficit of $132.5 billion in the year to September. While the deficit is expected to peak next year, there are also some positive signs emerging.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the main measure of inflation in Australia, rose 1.6% in the September quarter and 0.7% on an annual basis. This is a sign that the economy is beginning to move again after price falls in the June quarter. The biggest increases were childcare (as temporarily free childcare came to an end) and petrol. Consumer confidence also improved, with the weekly ANZ/Roy Morgan index hitting an 8-month high of 99.7 points in late October. Unemployment rose slightly from 6.8% to 6.9% in September, a little less than anticipated.

In another sign of confidence, the value of new loans for housing rose 12.6% in August. The value of owner-occupier loans was up a record 13.6%, with first time buyers accounting for almost a third. The value of investor loans was up 9.3%. And used car prices rose almost 30% in the year to September, a sign that when we do decide to spend, we’re bargain-hunting.

Outsmart your biases: using investor psychology to your advantage

Outsmart your biases: using investor psychology to your advantage

When it comes to decision making, we don’t always get it right. It is human nature to fall for several behavioural traps when making everyday decisions and also when trying to predict the future. Even the smartest people can succumb to their own biases when forming judgements and making choices.

While it’s unrealistic to expect to never again make a bad decision, we can of course recognise and anticipate possible biases so we can make informed decisions. This knowledge helps us to better understand how our mind works so we can use this information to our advantage for our next financial decisions, investments and life choices.

Here are a few of the most common behavioural biases (and therefore traps) to be aware of and tips for how to overcome them.

Loss aversion

This bias is ruled by fear, as you are focused on what you can lose rather than what you can gain. Mark Twain posed the example of a cat who jumps on a hot stove once and never will again, even though the stove would be cold and potentially contain food later, as a way to illustrate loss aversion.

Overcoming this bias requires confidence and pragmatism, as often the fear and expectation of loss is greater than the loss itself. It can help to lower the cost of failure (for example, if you are investing) and increase the likelihood of success to feel more assured when making decisions.

Overconfidence

On the flipside, overconfidence can cause bad decision making as it means you’ll take greater risks. Facets of this bias include an illusion of control, planning fallacy (such as underestimating how long a project will take) and positive illusions.

This type of bias is often linked to people with high self-evaluations, however anyone can fall into the trap of overconfidence. To avoid it, consider the consequences of the decision and explore all possibilities rather than just the best case scenario. Be open to feedback and advice from others to help balance overconfidence and to give you more options to consider.

Groupthink

Groupthink is where you are influenced by the ideas of others in order to reach a consensus in a group situation – this is also called the bandwagon effect. Something might not sit well with you but rather than voicing your feelings and being at odds with the group, you go along with it.

It is easy to get swept along with group consensus but there are ways you can minimise groupthink. Encouraging conversation and debate allows differing ideas and opinions to be considered – in a group scenario this enables everyone to have their voices heard.

Even when making a decision by yourself you can still be swayed by the opinions of others, so don’t let these overpower your instincts. Think critically and have confidence in your own analysis.

The primacy/recency effect

This bias is part of the serial-position effect: why we can often remember the first and last items in a series the most clearly (and forget what comes in the middle). The primacy and recency effect are intertwined for this reason, and they are often used by teachers, speakers, lawyers and advertising, in order to make their message most impactful.

Awareness of this effect can help you understand why you’re likely not using all information presented in your decision making, but only the first and last messages. Keep a record of all information to get a more accurate picture of the situation. It also helps to do your research so you won’t just be influenced by the message from one source either.

These are just some of the biases that impact our decision making, from the day-to-day to the bigger life decisions. Having a trusted adviser in your corner can help improve your financial decision making, by providing market research together with considered advice through an external, unemotional lens. In fact recent findings from Russell Investments found one significant benefit of an advisers is they prevent clients from making silly behavioural mistakes.i

We can offer guidance to help you overcome your biases and make better choices, so don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

i https://russellinvestments.com/au/blog/5-key-ways-advisers-deliver

Easy ways to boost your credit score

Easy ways to boost your credit score

 Most Australians are only vaguely aware – or completely unaware – of the fact that credit-reporting agencies monitor their financial transactions.

While most Australians don’t give much thought to what’s on their credit report, the credit score that’s based on the contents of that report can have a significant impact on your financial choices. A modest score may mean you miss out on getting a mortgage or business loan.

There’s no shame in relying heavily on your credit card or delaying bill or loan payments to help ride out the financial impacts of the pandemic. However, it is worth understanding how the financial decisions you’re making can affect your creditworthiness.

Know the score

Australia’s credit reporting agencies make it as easy as possible for people to access their credit scores. You should be able to get a free copy of your consumer credit report by contacting the relevant credit-reporting agency or putting in a request via its website.i

The two big players in the credit-reporting industry are Equifax and Experian, but Illion may also have a ‘consumer credit report’ on you. If you’re based in the Apple Isle, the Tasmanian Collection Service will be keeping an eye on whether you’re paying your bills.

Credit scores range from 1 to 1000 or 1200, depending on the agency rating it. If you discover your score is around 500 or better (again, depending on the agency) you can take comfort in the knowledge you’re of above-average creditworthiness. If your score is lower, there are some simple remedies.

Credit repair 101

While credit reporting agencies guard the finer details of their credit-score calculations, they are transparent about what will cause people’s credit score to fall and what is required to rectify the situation.

Here’s what you need to do to boost your creditworthiness.

Sort out any unpaid bills

People often discover unpaid bills – the technical term is ‘delinquencies’ – on their credit report that they either didn’t know existed or which they assumed were ancient history and covered by a statute of limitations.

If you’ve been wrongly charged for something, act quickly to get the charge removed. Start by contacting the business that has mistakenly billed you. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, contact the credit reporting agency.

If you’ve been legitimately charged but didn’t get the bill or were unable to pay it, contact the creditor and negotiate repayment arrangements.

Stop applying for credit

In the current unpredictable environment, it can be comforting to know you have access to plentiful credit in an emergency. But credit agencies view multiple applications for credit in a short period of time as a sign of financial distress, so think twice about applying for another credit or store card. Even if you don’t ever get the card, the fact you’ve enquired about doing so is listed on your credit file.

On this point, it’s worth considering alternative options before applying for credit. While applying for JobKeeper or JobSeeker, or withdrawing money from your super account, may have other financial implications, your credit score won’t be impacted.ii

Don’t put off paying bills for too long

The Australian Banking Association recently announced that borrowers who have deferred bank loans will not have their credit rating affected until at least March 2021.iii That’s welcome news, but don’t assume all companies will be as generous.

Unless the business you owe money to has put in place other arrangements, if they send you a bill for $150 or more and you don’t pay it off within 60 days of the due date, your late or missing payment will stay on your credit report for the next five years.

Get on the front foot

Even if you think you’ve been careful in your spending, debts can quickly mount up or get lost in the bottom of a drawer, so it’s worth getting into the habit of checking your credit score from time to time just to be sure.

This is particularly important if you are hoping to borrow money to buy a home, start a business, or for a major purchase. If you’d like advice about getting your finances back into shape and maximising your ability to access credit in the future, please call.

i https://moneysmart.gov.au/managing-debt/credit-scores-and-credit-reports

ii https://www.societyone.com.au/blog/early-access-to-super

iii https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/credit-rating-amnesty-for-loan-deferrals-extended-20200913-p55v5y.html

Making your savings work harder

Making your savings work harder

With tax cuts and stimulus payments on the way, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is urging us to open our wallets and spend to kick start the national economy. But if your personal balance sheet could do with a kick along, then saving and investing what you can also makes sense.

One positive from this COVID-19 induced recession, is that it has made many of us more aware of the importance of building a financial buffer to tide us over in lean times. Even people with secure employment have caught the savings bug.

According to the latest ME Bank Household Finance Confidence Report, 57 per cent of households are spending less than they earn. This is the highest percentage in almost a decade.i

More troubling however, was the finding that one in five households has less than $1,000 in savings, and only one third of households could maintain their lifestyle for three months if they lost their income.

Whatever your financial position, if saving is a priority the next step is deciding where to put your cash.

Banking on low interest

Everyone needs cash in the bank for living expenses and a rainy day. If you’ve been caught short this year, then building a cash buffer may be a priority.

If you have a short-term savings goal such as buying a car or your first home within the next year or so, then the bank is also the best place for your savings. Your capital is guaranteed by the Government so there’s no risk of investment losses.

But with interest rates close to zero, the bank is probably not the best place for long-term savings. So once your need for readily accessible cash is covered, there are more attractive places to build long-term wealth.

Pay down your mortgage

A question often asked is whether it’s better to put savings into super or your mortgage. Well, it depends on factors including your age, personal circumstances and preferences, interest rates and tax bracket.

If you have a mortgage, then making extra repayments can reduce the total amount of interest you pay and cut years off the life of your loan. This strategy has the most impact for younger people in the early years of a 25 to 30-year loan.

If your mortgage has a redraw or offset facility, you can still access your savings if you need cash for an emergency or home renovations down the track. This may be a deciding factor if retirement is a long way off.

Boost your super

Making extra super contributions is arguably the most tax-effective investment, especially for higher income earners.

Even so, super is likely to be more attractive as you get closer to retirement, the kids have left home, and your home is close to being paid off.

You can make personal, tax-deductible contributions up to the annual cap of $25,000. Be aware though that this cap includes super guarantee payments made by your employer and salary sacrifice amounts.

You can also make after-tax contributions of up to $100,000 a year up to age 75, subject to a work test after age 67.

Invest outside super

If you would like to invest in shares or property but don’t want to lock your money away in super until you retire, then you could invest outside super.

If you are new to investing, you could wait until you have saved $5,000 or so in the bank and then buy a parcel of shares or an exchange-traded fund (ETF). ETFs give you access to a diversified portfolio of investments in a particular market, market sector or asset class.

First home buyers might consider the Federal Government’s expanded First Home Loan Deposit Scheme with as little as 5 per cent deposit. There are limited packages available and price caps on the home value, depending on where you live.

With tax cuts set to flow and a new appreciation of the importance of financial security, now is the perfect time to start a savings plan. Contact our office if you would like to discuss your savings and investment strategy.

i https://www.mebank.com.au/getmedia/c27b0a0d-cc4e-470e-8a37-722d6f00af98/Household_Financial_Comfort_Report_July_2020_FINAL.pdf

This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.

Economic Update Video – November 2020

The Federal Budget on October 6 was the start of a pivotal month on the economic scene.

Budget estimates released later in the month revealed a deficit of $132.5 billion in the year to September. While the deficit is expected to peak next year, there are also some positive signs emerging.

The ASX200 finished slightly up for the month, with most of October’s early gains eroded in the lead up to the US Presidential election and the RBA announcement.


The Reserve Bank has cut the cash rate to 0.1%, from its current record low of 0.25% and intends to purchase $100 billion of government bonds, to help stimulate the economy.

Please get in touch if you’d like assistance with your personal financial situation.

This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.

Economic Update Video – October 2020

On October 6th the Government will outline one of the most important Federal Budgets in living memory.

The biggest government stimulus program since WWII has resulted in a budget deficit of $85.3 billion in the 2019/20 FY, with more spending on the cards to drive economic growth.

The Reserve Bank has kept the cash rate at its current record low of 0.25%.


Please get in touch if you’d like assistance with your personal financial situation.


This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.

Federal Budget 2020-21 Analysis

Building a bridge to recovery

In what has been billed as one of the most important budgets since the Great Depression, and the first since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic dragged Australia into its first recession in almost 30 years, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the next phase of the journey is to secure Australia’s future.

As expected, the focus is on job creation, tax cuts and targeted spending to get the economy over the COVID-19 hump.

The Treasurer said this Budget, which was delayed six months due to the pandemic, is “all about helping those who are out of a job get into a job and helping those who are in work, stay in work”.

The big picture

After coming within a whisker of balancing the budget at the end of 2019, the Treasurer revealed the budget deficit is now projected to blow out to $213.7 billion this financial year, or 11 per cent of GDP, the biggest deficit in 75 years.

With official interest rates at a record low of 0.25 per cent, the Reserve Bank has little firepower left to stimulate the economy. That puts the onus on Government spending to get the economy moving, fortunately at extremely favourable borrowing rates. And that is just as well, because debt and deficit will be with us well into the decade.

The Government forecasts the deficit will fall to $66.9 billion by 2023-24. Net debt is expected to hit $703 billion this financial year, or 36 per cent of GDP, dwarfing the $85.3 billion debt last financial year. Debt is expected to peak at $966 billion, or 44 per cent of GDP, by June 2024.

The figures are eye-watering, but the Government is determined to do what it takes to keep Australians in jobs and grow our way out of recession.

So, what does the Budget mean for you, your family and your community?

It’s all about jobs

With young people bearing the brunt of COVID-related job losses, the Government is pulling out all stops to get young people into jobs. Youth unemployment currently stands at 14.3 per cent, more than twice the overall jobless rate of 6.8 per cent.

As we transition away from the JobKeeper and JobSeeker subsidies, the Government announced more than $6 billion in new spending which it estimates will help create 450,000 jobs for young people.

“Having a job means more than earning an income,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Measures include:

  • A new JobMaker program worth $4 billion by 2022-23, under which employers who fill new jobs with young workers who are unemployed or studying will receive a hiring credit of up to $10,400 over the next year. Employers who hire someone under 29 will receive $200 a week, and $100 a week for those aged 30-35. New employees must work at least 20 hours a week to be eligible.
  • A $1.2 billion program to pay half the salary of up to 100,000 new apprentices and trainees taken on by businesses.

In recognition that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women’s employment, the Budget includes the promised “Women’s economic security statement” but the size of the support package may disappoint some.

Just over $240 million has been allocated to “create more opportunities and choices for women” in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as well as male-dominated industries and business.

Housing and infrastructure

As part of its job creation strategy, the government also announced $14 billion in new and accelerated infrastructure projects since the onset of COVID.

The projects will be in all states and territories and include major road and rail projects, smaller shovel-ready road safety projects, as well as new water infrastructure such as dams, weirs and pipelines.

The construction industry will also be supported by the first home loan deposit scheme being extended to an extra 10,000 new or newly built homes in 2020-21. This scheme allows first home owners to buy with a deposit as low as 5 per cent and the Government will guaranteeing up to 15 per cent.

Personal tax cuts

As widely tipped, the government will follow up last year’s tax cut by bringing forward stage two of its planned tax cuts and back date them to July 1 this year to give mostly low and middle-income taxpayers an immediate boost.

As the table below shows, the upper income threshold for the 19 per cent marginal tax rate will increase from $37,000 a year to $45,000 a year. The upper threshold for the 32.5 per cent tax bracket will increase from $90,000 to $120,000.

As a result, more than 11 million Australians will save between $87 and $2,745 this financial year. Couples will save up to $5,490.

Marginal tax rate* Previous taxable income thresholds New taxable income thresholds
0% $0-$18,200 $0-$18,200
19% $18,201-$37,000 $18,201-$45,000
32.5% $37,001-$90,000 $45,001-$120,000
37% $90,001-$180,000 $120,001-$180,000
45% More than $180,000 More than $180,000
Low income tax offset (LITO) Up to $445 Up to $700
Low & middle income tax offset (LMITO) Up to $1,080 Up to $1,080**

*Does not include Medicare Levy of 2%

**LMITO will only be available until the end of the 2020-21 income year.

You don’t need to do anything to receive the tax cuts. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will automatically adjust the tax tables it applies to businesses and simply take less. It will also account for three months of taxes already paid from 1 July this year so workers can catch up on missed savings.

Business tax relief

In another move that will help protect jobs in the hard-hit small business sector, business owners will also get tax relief through loss carry back provisions for struggling firms. This will allow them to claim back a rebate on tax they have previously paid until they get back on their feet.

Businesses with turnover of up to $5 billion a year will be able to write off the full value of any depreciable asset they buy before June 2022.

Cash boost for retirees

Around 2.5 million pensioners will get extra help to make up for the traditional September rise in the Age Pension not going ahead this year. However, self-funded retirees may feel they have been left out.

Age pensioners and as well as people on the disability support pension, Veterans pension, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders and recipients of Family Tax Benefit will receive two payments of $250 from December and from March.

This is in addition to two previous payments of $750 earlier this year.

Health and aged care

After the terrible toll the pandemic has waged on aged care residents and the elderly, the Government will add 23,000 additional Home Care packages to allow senior Australians to remain in their home for as long as possible.

Funding for mental health and suicide prevention will also be increased by $5.7 billion this year, with a doubling of Medicare-funded places for psychological services.

Super funds on notice

Underperforming super funds are to be named and shamed with a new comparison tool called Your Super. This will allow super members to compare fees and returns.

All funds will be required to undergo an annual performance test from 2021 and underperforming funds will be banned from taking on new members unless they do better.

Looking ahead

As the underlying Budget assumptions are based on finding a coronavirus vaccine sometime next year, Government projections for economic growth, jobs and debt are necessarily best estimates only.

Only time will tell if Budget spending and other incentives will be enough to encourage business to invest and employ, and to prevent the economy dipping further as JobKeeper and JobSeeker temporary support payments are wound back.

Another test will be whether the Budget initiatives help those most affected by the recession, notably young people and women.

The Government has said it is prepared to consider more spending to get the economy out of recession. The Treasurer will have another opportunity to fine tune his economic strategy fairly soon, with the next federal budget due in just seven months, in May 2021.

If you have any questions about any of the Budget measures and how they might impact your finances, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Information in this article has been sourced from the Budget Speech 2020-21 and Federal Budget support documents.

It is important to note that the policies outlined in this publication are yet to be passed as legislation and therefore may be subject to change.

This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.

October 2020 Newsletter

October is here and it’s shaping up to be a busy month. Many of us are taking advantage of the October long weekend and school holidays for a much-needed staycation in our home states, while Melbourne has announced a further easing of restrictions. Next week, all eyes will be on Tuesday’s Federal Budget.

The scene is set for one of the most important Federal Budgets in living memory, after COVID-19 delayed the usual May delivery to October 6. In September it was confirmed that Australia is in recession. The economy contracted 7% in the June quarter following the 0.3% fall in the March quarter, taking the annual decline to 6.3%, the biggest since 1945. The pandemic has also hit the federal budget bottom line, with a budget deficit of $85.3 billion in the 2019/20 financial year. The biggest government stimulus program since WWII took net government debt to $491 billion, or 24.8% of GDP, with more spending on the cards.

Against this backdrop, there is mounting speculation that the Reserve Bank could cut the cash rate as early as next week, from its current record low of 0.25%, to help stimulate the economy. A rise in the Aussie dollar could tip the balance. The dollar ended September around US71.5c, down 2c over the month, after dipping as low as US70c.

On a positive note, the ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index rose for four weeks straight in September, to a 14-week high of 95 points (although still 19.7 points lower than a year ago). The NAB business confidence index also improved, from -14.2 points to -8.0 points in August. Unemployment is also headed in the right direction, down from a 22-year high of 7.5% to 6.8% in August.

Algorithms driving our narrowing focus

Algorithms driving our narrowing focus

There’s no doubt we live in a curated world. Online algorithms serve up content designed to meet our needs based on what we’ve liked and engaged with in the past. And while this can help us find what we’re looking for, the problem is that while these algorithms reflect our interests, they also reinforce them.

As a result we see little of what’s different and unfamiliar – our beliefs are unchallenged and our biases strengthened.

Thankfully with a little awareness we can break out of our respective bubbles and gain a fresh perspective.

The impact of online algorithms

Online algorithms can save us time searching for the information we are after. They can seemingly anticipate our needs before we even know we have them, for instance, presenting us with an ad for contact lens refills just before you run out, or a reminder to get a health check based on your age and gender.

Yet there is a more serious impact as well, as evident in The Wall Street Journal’s 2016 US politics experiment where they created a blue (liberal) and red (conservative) Facebook feed side-by-side.i This illustrated just how dissimilar reality is for different Facebook users, and offered a rare side-by-side look at real conversations from different perspectives.

Algorithms can reinforce biases, which Amazon discovered when its hiring tool chose candidates based on their use of certain phrases more commonly associated with men.ii This lack of gender-neutrality in hiring meant that female candidates would miss on opportunities due to the system’s algorithm.

Being aware

Back in 2015, a study found that 62.5% of respondents were unaware that Facebook curated its news feed to present content based on user’s interests.iii These ‘filter bubbles’ have since been identified as problematic, with Bill Gates speaking out about them several years ago.iv Living in these bubbles makes it easy to forget that not everyone thinks the way we do, which can increase polarisation.

We now have a better grasp of the powers of algorithms and how they can warp our online experiences. This awareness means we can more critically think about what we are presented with and look beyond our feeds to see what other views and opinions are out there.

Broaden your horizons

While our online experience may be narrowing our world view, if approached mindfully it can also provide access to an incredible range of social groups, conversations and opinions that may challenge our preconceived notions and broaden our horizons, if we seek them out.

Read and watch a variety of news sources rather than just your one media outlet of choice. Try to access and appreciate both sides of an issue. Procon.org can help you there, as it presents opposing arguments to controversial issues. You can click on the ‘more issues’ tab to read through different takes on everything from politics and society, science and technology, health and medicine, and education. Each topic is split into pros and cons so you can decide for yourself what you believe after weighing up the arguments – perhaps you might even change your mind on some issues!

Technology firms have even developed tools that adjust your ‘filter bubbles’ via sliders that control content filters.v For instance, the “politics” slider ranges from “my perspective” to “lots of perspectives.” Choosing the latter end provides access to media outlets that would not normally be displayed in your feed.

Then there are apps like Earbits, which allow users to discover new music by clicking on different genres, as opposed to music platforms that recognise your preferences and serve up more of what you already like.

It’s about choosing to be active, curious and explorative in your online travels. After all, being exposed to new ideas is at the heart of learning, understanding and personal growth so resist going down that narrowing information highway.

i http://graphics.wsj.com/blue-feed-red-feed/

ii https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-jobs-automation-insight/amazon-scraps-secret-ai-recruiting-tool-that-showed-bias-against-women-idUSKCN1MK08G

iii http://www-personal.umich.edu/~csandvig/research/Eslami_Algorithms_CHI15.pdf

iv https://qz.com/913114/bill-gates-says-filter-bubbles-are-a-serious-problem-with-news/

v https://www.media.mit.edu/projects/gobo/overview/

Managing investment risk in uncertain times

Managing investment risk in uncertain times

This year has exposed investors to the end of a bull market and the start of a global recession, all caused by a totally unexpected global pandemic. The outlook for the global economy and investment markets remains uncertain until an effective vaccine is available.

While there is cause for optimism that one of the many vaccines will become available in the not-too-distant future, the road to financial recovery – for nations and many individuals – could be much longer.

Whether you are working towards major financial goals such as buying a home, planning to retire soon, or already retired and looking for reliable income, it’s never been more important to come to terms with uncertainty and manage investment risk.

So how can investors not only survive, but thrive, during this difficult period? Staying the course isn’t easy when you can’t see what lies ahead, but you need to strap yourself in if you want to achieve long-term financial success.

Stay the course

When markets fall sharply, as the sharemarket did earlier this year, it’s tempting to switch to cash investments. All too often, this can mean you lock in your losses at or near the bottom of the market and potentially miss out on the recovery that follows.

After hitting a record high in February, the ASX 200 fell almost 37 per cent by mid-March as the economic impacts of COVID-19 began to sink in. Then against expectations, the market rebounded 35 per cent over the next three months.i

Throughout that period, volatility was high with dips of a few percent one day followed by an equally sharp rise the next. But history has shown that it generally pays to ignore the noise.

There have been many studies about the impact of missing out on the best days for a market over a given period. Missing even a few of these days can have a big impact on your long-term returns.

Looking at the Australian market, a hypothetical $10,000 invested in the ASX 200 Accumulation Index (share prices plus dividends) on 30 October 2003 would have turned into $37,735 by 6 September 2020. Missing the 10 best days would have reduced returns by $15,375, while missing the 20 best days would have reduced returns by $22,930.ii

Manage investment risks

While it’s important to stay invested, that doesn’t mean you should forever sit on your hands and do nothing.

Booming markets can make investors complacent, so a market correction is often a good opportunity to stress test your investments to see if they are appropriate for risk tolerance and personal circumstances.

For example, if you’re in your super fund’s growth option but this year’s roller-coaster markets have kept you awake at night, then perhaps a more conservation option would be more appropriate.

Or if your portfolio has become unbalanced after all the market upheaval, with too much reliance on one asset class or market sector, then you might think about rebalancing your portfolio to plug any gaps.

Investors who are nearing retirement or recently retired may have a greater focus on preserving capital, to provide more certainty that their money won’t run out.

The importance of diversification

Yet even retirees need to balance their need for capital preservation with capital growth, which is another way of saying they still need to diversify their investments.

By diversifying across and within asset classes, you have the best chance of riding out a big fall in any one asset class.
With interest rates close to zero and likely to stay low for some time, investments such as bonds and cash that traditionally provide capital protection with regular income will be hard-pressed to keep pace with inflation.

By including some growth assets such as shares and property in your portfolio, your savings will continue to grow over the long term even as you draw down income to cover your living expenses. Shares and property also provide income in the form of dividends and rent, which retirees can use to diversify their sources of income.

Whatever your age and stage of life, avoiding knee jerk reactions, managing risk and diversification can help you navigate these uncertain times. If you would like to discuss your investment strategy, please get in touch.

i https://www.asx.com.au/prices/charting/index.html

ii https://www.fidelity.com.au/learning-hub/markets/timing-the-market/

Life cover: More essential than ever

Life cover: More essential than ever

Living through COVID-19 has brought many challenges and shifting priorities as we deal with the financial impacts of the pandemic, and that includes the issue of life insurance.

On the one hand, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of life cover. On the other, those who may have lost a job or lost income are questioning its necessity.

Many Australians continue to view life insurance as a discretionary item. This is in stark contrast to car or home insurance which are seen as necessities. It seems we are willing to insure our property but not the thing that matters most – our life and our ability to earn an income.

Conflicting priorities

A survey by KPMG found that only 35 per cent of Australians thought life insurance was essential and just 30 per cent believed they needed income protection. But when it comes to car insurance, 79 per cent viewed cover as essential and yet, during COVID-19, car usage reduced as many were working from home and restricting their movements.

As the COVID-19 health crisis has reinforced our vulnerability in terms of health and the fragility of life, the need for life and income protection insurance has probably never been greater.

What would happen if you became too sick to return to work or if you passed away? Who would pay the mortgage, living costs, health insurance and utility bills for you or the family you left behind? For those with outstanding debt and dependants, life insurance will always be an important consideration.

It should also be remembered that the current health crisis does not rule out people getting sick with other illnesses, some linked to COVID-19 and some not. Mental health is one these health issues and is becoming increasingly prevalent.

Claims on the rise

In the June quarter, the life insurance industry reported a net after-tax loss of $179 million on its individual income protection products, driven largely by claims for mental health issues in the wake of COVID-19.i Mental health claims are expected to grow even further as it is thought most people take more than a year to report such issues.

With claims on the uptick, this has meant the insurance industry is either looking to increase premiums or already has. This, in turn, may discourage people from keeping their cover.

Indeed, the KPMG survey said that 38 per cent of policy holders were looking to cancel their income protection insurance in the next 12 months, and 25 per cent were planning to drop life cover.

On the plus side, many Australians have some level of life and income protection insurance in their super. However, if you were to lose your job, then paying premiums on your insurance in super would come out of your fund balance, reducing your retirement savings over time.

Also, your insurance might well cease when you lose your job unless you opt to take out a private policy. You generally have 60 days to take up this option.

Redundancy payments

If your income protection insurance is outside super, then be mindful that not all policies include redundancy claims. And those that do may have restrictions. For instance, there is usually a wait period of up to 28 days before any payments will be made.

If you are thinking of taking out a policy now to cover you in case of redundancy given the current economic environment, then you will probably have to go through a six-month no-claim period before you can benefit. During that six-month period, there must be no indication from your employer that redundancy may be on the cards.

Many insurance companies recognise the financial and personal difficulties many people currently face and some have offered to reduce or even suspend premiums without any loss of continuity to your policy.

One alternative may be to look at reducing the cover you have so that your premiums reduce. But it’s important to be mindful of your needs and ensure you have adequate cover.

The road ahead

The insurance industry, like many others, is being forced to look at a different way of doing business in a post-COVID-19 world, with simpler policies and flat premiums all being discussed.

In the meantime, making quick decisions on whether you still need insurance, or your current level of insurance, may prove a mistake. If you are thinking about altering your cover, give us a call first to discuss your insurance needs.

i https://www.fsc.org.au/news/income-protection

This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.

Getting retirement plans back on track

After a year when even the best laid plans have been put on hold due to COVID-19, people who were planning to retire soon may be having second thoughts. You may be concerned about a drop in your super balance, insecure work, or an uncertain investment outlook.

Whatever your circumstances, a financial tune-up may be required to get your retirement plans back on track. You may even find you’re in better financial shape than you feared, but you won’t know until you do your sums.

The best place to start is to think about your future income needs.

What will retirement cost?

Your retirement spending will depend on your lifestyle, if you are married or single, whether you own your home and where you want to live.

Maybe you want to holiday overseas every year while you are still physically active or buy a van and tour Australia. Do you want to eat out regularly, play golf, and lead an active social life; or are you a homebody who enjoys gardening, craftwork or pottering in the shed?

Also think about the cost of creature comforts, such as the ability to upgrade cars, computers and mobiles, buy nice clothes, enjoy good wine and pay for private health insurance.

It’s often suggested you will need around 70 per cent of your pre-retirement income to continue living in the manner to which you have become accustomed. That’s because it’s generally cheaper to live in retirement, with little or no tax to pay and (hopefully) no mortgage or rent.

Draw up a budget

To get you started, the ASFA Retirement Standard may be helpful. It provides sample budgets for different households and living standards.

As you can see in the table below, ASFA suggests singles aged 65 would need around $44,183 a year to live comfortably, while couples would need around $62,435.i Of course, comfort is different for everyone so you may wish to aim higher.

ASFA Retirement Standard

Modest lifestyle Comfortable lifestyle
Single Couple Single Couple
Annual income $28,220 $40,719 $44,183 $62,435
Savings required at retirement $70,000* $70,000* $545,000 $640,000

Source: ASFA, as at March 2020. Assumes home ownership.

*The fact that these figures are the same reflects the impact of receiving the Age Pension.

To put these figures in perspective, the full Age Pension is currently around $24,550 a year for singles and $37,013 for couples. As you can see, this doesn’t stretch to ASFA’s modest budget, let alone a comfortable lifestyle, especially for retirees who are paying rent or still paying off a mortgage on top of other expenses.

Then there is the ‘known unknown’ of how long you will live. Today’s 65-year-olds can expect to live to an average age of around 85 years for men and 87 for women. Half will live longer than that, many into their 90s. The challenge is to ensure your money lasts the distance.

Can I afford to retire?

Once you have a rough idea what your ideal retirement will cost, you can work out if you have enough super and other savings to fund it.

Using the ASFA benchmark for a comfortable lifestyle, say you hope to retire at age 65 on annual income of $62,000 a year until age 85. Couples would need a lump sum of $640,000 and singles would need $545,000. This assumes you earn 6 per cent a year on your investments, draw down all your capital and receive a part Age Pension.

Add up your savings and investments inside and outside super. Subtract your debts, including outstanding loans and credit card bills, to arrive at your current net savings. Then work out how much you are likely to have by the time you hope to retire if you continue your current savings strategy.

There are many online calculators to help you estimate your retirement balance, such as the MoneySmart super calculator.

Helping the kids

If you want to leave an inheritance for the kids or help them financially sooner rather than later, then you will need to factor this in. Do be aware though that there are limits to how much you can give away without affecting your Age Pension entitlements.

Under the Centrelink gifting rules, you are only permitted to give a maximum of $10,000 in one financial year and $30,000 over five financial years before the excess is counted towards your Age Pension assets and income tests.

Closing the gap

If there’s a gap between your retirement dream and your financial reality, you still have choices.

If you have the means, you could make additional super contributions up to your concessional cap of $25,000 a year. You may also be able to make after-tax contributions of up to $100,000 a year or, subject to eligibility, $300,000 in any three-year period. 

You might also consider delaying retirement which has the double advantage of allowing you to accumulate more savings and reduce the number of years you need to draw on them.

These are challenging times to be embarking on your retirement journey, but a little planning now could put you back in the driver’s seat. 

Get in touch if you would like to discuss your retirement strategy.

i https://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard

This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.

Economic Update Video – September 2020

The Reserve Bank forecasts the economy will contract 6% this year before rebounding 5% in 2021.

The recent company reporting season provided an insight into the financial impact of COVID-19 on the economy and for investors.

Only 75% of ASX 200 companies reported a net profit in the year to June. Full-year earnings were down 38% on aggregate, while dividends were down 36%.

53% of companies either cut or didn’t pay a dividend, a move that will affect investors who depend on dividend income from shares.

The current cash target rate of 0.25% has been left unchanged and is expected to remain at its current level for the foreseeable future.


Please get in touch if you’d like assistance with your personal financial situation.


This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.

Spring 2020

It’s September and spring is finally here. This is always a wonderful time to get out in the garden or in nature, on foot or on your bike, even if travel restrictions mean we need to stay closer to home this year.

The recent company reporting season for the year or half-year to June 30 provided an insight into the financial impact of COVID-19 – on the economy and for investors. Analysis by CommSec showed only 75% of ASX 200 companies reported a net profit in the year to June 30. Full-year earnings were down 38% on aggregate, while dividends were down 36%. In an extremely difficult trading environment, 53% of companies either cut or didn’t pay a dividend, a move that will affect investors who depend on dividend income from shares.

There were bright spots though. Gold companies profited from rising gold prices, up almost 30% this year due to gold’s status as a ‘safe-haven’ investment. Iron ore miners benefitted from a lift in demand from China and rising iron ore prices, up 46% this year. While homewares and electronics retailers and those with a strong online presence enjoyed increased demand from Australians staying close to home. Retail trade rose 12.2% in the year to July, the strongest annual growth in 19 years. Consumer confidence is also improving, with the weekly ANZ/Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating up 42% since its March lows to 92.7 points in the last week of August. The Australian dollar is fetching around US73.5c, up almost 5% this year.

Challenges remain, however. Unemployment rose to 7.5% in July, the highest level in 22 years. Business investment fell 11.5% in the year to July and residential building activity fell 12.1% in the year to June – the biggest fall in 19 years. The Reserve Bank forecasts the economy will contract 6% this year before rebounding 5% in 2021.

Time to break up with bad habits?

Time to break up with bad habits?

We all have bad habits, and they can be many and varied. They can be as big as poor time management which can impact your productivity, or as small as nail biting which drives your loved ones crazy! You might self-sabotage, such as tucking into that tub of ice-cream even if you’ve vowed to eat better or checking your phone during face-to-face conversations which can cause hurt feelings.

It’s of course unrealistic to be perfect, but you can part company with the habits which are not having a positive impact on your life.

How habits are formed

It’s estimated that 40% of our activities are performed daily in the same situations.i It can be hard to trace back how habits (good and bad) were formed but they served a purpose at some stage in our lives. Perhaps you took up smoking to fit in or deal with stress, or learned to self-soothe with sugary treats.

A bad habit for one person isn’t necessarily a bad habit for someone else. Having a glass or two during wine o’clock might be problematic for someone, but a welcome treat for another.

Why habits are hard to break

Habits become deeply wired over time and often reward us in some way thanks to our brain chemistry. However we don’t have to remain at the mercy of them.

As the common failure of our New Year’s resolutions show, it’s hard to break habits and/or form new ones. Fortunately there has been significant research into how habits are formed, which can help when it comes to breaking our less desired habits.

Leveraging the habit loop

All habits can be broken down into three main components; first comes the cue or trigger which could be in your internal or external environment; then the action (good or bad); and lastly the reward, where your brain receives the positive feedback for your action.ii

Appreciating how habits are formed and maintained will enable you to consciously adjust your behaviour, intercepting the habit loop and making your desired behaviours finally stick.

Firstly, create an environment that reminds and encourages you to take action. This could be having your clothes set out for your early morning workout, or scheduling time and moving to a separate space to allow for deep thinking work.

Next identify your current external and your internal cues that trigger your behaviour and set up a process for more productive response, removing any barriers to your success. Are you prone to the 3pm afternoon slump? Take a walk or have some healthy snacks at hand to save you from that sugary snack.

Creating a positive feedback loop for success

Ever wondered why your most addictive habits are often the easiest to adopt and the hardest to kick? These habits, while they may not have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing, have inbuilt reward systems which release a cocktail of positive chemicals in your brain including dopamine, encouraging you to continue your new found habit.

While not all habits have a natural inbuilt reward system, you can create a positive feedback loop to stimulate your brain and embed a new habit, particularly when you are just getting started. For example, studies have shown that a small amount of dark chocolate after a workout can stimulate the same chemicals that will eventually be released by the workout itself.iii Creating an immediate reward to spur you on.

…and pace yourself

It takes time to break habits and form new ones – on average, over two months.iv Be patient with yourself and realistic with what you can achieve. If you do fall back into your old ways, don’t be too hard on yourself, most people fail multiple times before they make it work. Treat yourself with compassion and persevere. It will be worth the effort to dump those habits that just aren’t working for you anymore.

i https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140808111931.htm

ii https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/02/13/the-science-behind-adopting-new-habits-and-making-them-stick/#671e27a143c7

iii https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160913101129.htm

iv https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejsp.674

Inflation, deflation - what

Inflation, deflation – what’s in a name?

When the inflation rate fell into negative territory in the June quarter, it was so unusual it begged the question of what this means for the economy. Are we facing deflation or even stagflation and what is the difference?

In the June quarter the annual inflation rate fell to minus 0.3 per cent, only the third time in 72 years of record keeping that the rate has been in the negative.

Much of the fall was attributed to free childcare (part of the special COVID-19 measures) and low petroleum prices during the quarter. The general view is that the September quarter will return to positive territory when childcare fees resume.

So what is inflation and why does it matter?

What is inflation?

In Australia, the main measure of inflation is the consumer price index (CPI). This measures the rate of change in the average price of a basket of selected goods and services over time.

While the index can move up and down, a negative inflation rate – no, that’s not an oxymoron – is referred to as deflation.

Generally, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) aims to keep the inflation rate between 2 and 3 per cent. But in the current environment, the RBA is now expecting the CPI to remain below 2 per cent until at least December 2022.

A falling consumer price index – particularly one that is in negative territory – sounds like it should be a good thing as it will give you greater purchasing power with the lower prices. After all, who doesn’t like a bargain? But in reality, it can play havoc with retail businesses who are faced with lower profits but not necessarily lower costs. This can put a squeeze on their business, which can often lead to retrenchments and a spike in unemployment.

The other two occasions when Australia experienced deflation were in 1962 and in 1997-98.

The 1962 negative rate was after then Prime Minister Menzies implemented two credit squeezes to end the inflation caused by the Korean War Boom. The 1997 episode was in the wake of the Asian Financial crisis.

A slowing economy

Clearly, we are living in extraordinary times with COVID-19 and until the pandemic is more under control we can expect further slowing in the economy.

But at least this curtailment of economic activity is not coinciding with higher prices for goods. If that were the case, the country would be faced with stagflation which poses a far greater squeeze on households than deflation. Stagflation is a situation with rising inflation (prices) and slowing economic growth, often accompanied with high unemployment.

Of course, if your job is not in jeopardy, you will benefit from cheaper goods. But if lower prices become the norm, people may hold off major purchases on the expectation that they can buy even more cheaply in the future. This is not good news as consumer spending makes up 60 per cent of total economic activity, so a contraction in spending generally results in a contraction in the economy.

However, if your employment is insecure and the overall unemployment rate rises, this will depress household spending. It will also have an impact on the property market.

Unemployment takes its toll

According to the latest figures, more than one million Australians are currently unemployed and many more could face uncertainty going forward. Whether you rent or are buying your property, finding the funds can present problems.

In some areas, as demand dried up in the June quarter, rents dropped by as much as 25 per cent. This may be good for renters, but it is not for those with investment property as part of their retirement strategy. If rents fall – or indeed if your property is vacant for some time – it may jeopardise retirement income.

Property prices are also under attack with distressed sales coming to the fore as the unemployment rate grows. When property values fall, mortgages become more expensive in real terms as your equity may be reduced – and in some cases you could find yourself with negative equity in your property.

Hopefully, the measures introduced in Australia to counter COVID-19 will prove successful and the economy will begin to recover.

If you would like to discuss your overall investment strategy in light of these challenging times, then please call.

Getting retirement plans back on track

Getting retirement plans back on track

After a year when even the best laid plans have been put on hold due to COVID-19, people who were planning to retire soon may be having second thoughts. You may be concerned about a drop in your super balance, insecure work, or an uncertain investment outlook.

Whatever your circumstances, a financial tune-up may be required to get your retirement plans back on track. You may even find you’re in better financial shape than you feared, but you won’t know until you do your sums.

The best place to start is to think about your future income needs.

What will retirement cost?

Your retirement spending will depend on your lifestyle, if you are married or single, whether you own your home and where you want to live.

Maybe you want to holiday overseas every year while you are still physically active or buy a van and tour Australia. Do you want to eat out regularly, play golf, and lead an active social life; or are you a homebody who enjoys gardening, craftwork or pottering in the shed?

Also think about the cost of creature comforts, such as the ability to upgrade cars, computers and mobiles, buy nice clothes, enjoy good wine and pay for private health insurance.

It’s often suggested you will need around 70 per cent of your pre-retirement income to continue living in the manner to which you have become accustomed. That’s because it’s generally cheaper to live in retirement, with little or no tax to pay and (hopefully) no mortgage or rent.

Draw up a budget

To get you started, the ASFA Retirement Standard may be helpful. It provides sample budgets for different households and living standards.

ASFA suggests singles aged 65 would need around $44,183 a year to live comfortably, while couples would need around $62,435.i Of course, comfort is different for everyone so you may wish to aim higher.

To put these figures in perspective, the full age pension is currently around $24,550 a year for singles and $37,013 for couples. As you can see, this doesn’t stretch to ASFA’s modest budget, let alone a comfortable lifestyle, especially for retirees who are paying rent or still paying off a mortgage.

Then there is the ‘known unknown’ of how long you will live. Today’s 65-year-olds can expect to live to an average age of around 85 years for men and 87 for women. The challenge is to ensure your money lasts the distance.

Can I afford to retire?

Once you have a rough idea what your ideal retirement will cost, you can work out if you have enough super and other savings to fund it.

Using the ASFA benchmark for a comfortable lifestyle, say you hope to retire at age 65 on annual income of $62,000 a year until age 85. Couples would need a lump sum of $640,000 and singles would need $545,000. This assumes you earn 6 per cent a year on your investments, draw down all your capital and receive a part age pension.

Add up your savings and investments inside and outside super. Subtract your debts, including outstanding loans and credit card bills, to arrive at your current net savings. Then work out how much you are likely to have by the time you hope to retire if you continue your current savings strategy.

There are many online calculators to help you estimate your retirement balance, such as the MoneySmart super calculator.

Closing the gap

If there’s a gap between your retirement dream and your financial reality, you still have choices.

If you have the means, you could make additional super contributions up to your concessional cap of $25,000 a year. You may also be able to make after-tax contributions of up to $100,000 a year or, subject to eligibility, $300,000 in any three-year period. 

You might also consider delaying retirement which has the double advantage of allowing you to accumulate more savings and reduce the number of years you need to draw on them.

These are challenging times to be embarking on your retirement journey, but a little planning now could put you back in the driver’s seat. 

Get in touch if you would like to discuss your retirement strategy.

i https://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard

This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.

Economic Update Video – August 2020

The government’s July budget update gave an insight into the economic impact of the health crisis, below is a video to assist you to stay up to date with the latest indicators.

The economy contracted by an estimated 0.25% in 2019-20, with a further fall of 2.5% in 2020-21.

The budget deficit is estimated to be:

– $85.8 billion in 2019-20 (4.3% of GDP, and

– $184.5 billion in 2020-21 (9.7% of GDP).

This would be the biggest deficit as a share of GDP since 1946 in the aftermath of WWII.

The current cash target rate of 0.25% has been left unchanged.


Please get in touch if you’d like assistance with your personal financial situation.


This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.

August 2020 Newsletter

August is here and the wattle is in bloom, a sign that spring is around the corner. Australians will all be hoping for brighter days ahead, as we contend with rising COVID cases and sobering news on the economic front.

After postponing the Federal Budget until October due to COVID, the government released a budget update on July 23 which gave an insight into the economic impact of the health crisis. It estimates a budget deficit of $85.8 billion in 2019-20 (4.3% of GDP) rising to $184.5 billion in 2020-21 (9.7% of GDP). This would be the biggest deficit as a share of GDP since 1946 in the aftermath of WWII. The economy contracted an estimated 0.25% in 2019-20, with a further fall of 2.5% in 2020-21, the first consecutive annual falls in over 70 years.

Unemployment rose from 7.1% to 7.4% in June, the highest in almost 22 years. The jobless rate is expected to peak at around 9% in December before it begins to fall. As a result of the economic slowdown, inflation fell 1.9% in the June quarter (minus 0.3% on an annual basis), the biggest quarterly fall since 1931 during the Depression. The biggest price falls were for childcare, petrol, primary education, and rents. This was reflected in falling consumer confidence, with the ANZ-Roy Morgan confidence rating falling to a 13-week low of 89 late in the month (the long-term average is 112.8 points).

On financial markets, gold rose to a record high of US$1975 an ounce in July, reflecting its role as a defensive asset in difficult times. Crude oil prices inched up 1% in July but are down 25% over the year. And in good news for Australian exports, iron ore prices rebounded 8% in July (down 7% for the year). The Australian dollar continued to climb, closing the month above US72c.

Super changes add flexibility

Super changes add flexibility

Just when you thought you had a grip on the superannuation rules, they change again. This time though, the changes are mostly positive, especially for older super members keen to top up their savings.

From 1 July 2020, changes came into effect with the potential to help retirees as well as members suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Here’s a summary of the new rules.

Work test to kick in at 67

Under changes to the work test, if you are aged 65 or 66 you can now put money into super even if you aren’t working. This gives people flexibility to make voluntary catch-up contributions for a few more years and give their retirement savings a last-minute boost.

Under the work test, which now kicks in at age 67, you must work at least 40 hours within 30 consecutive days in the financial year in which you make the contribution.

It was also proposed to allow people aged 65 and 66 at the start of the financial year to use the existing non-concessional bring forward rules. If eligible, this allows you to ‘bring forward’ up to three years’ worth of non-concessional contributions (up to $300,000) in the current financial year. Legislation must be passed before this proposal becomes effective.

Couples get a super boost

Couples also have more flexibility to grow their retirement savings later in life, thanks to recent changes to spouse contributions. As of 1 July 2020, you can contribute to your spouse’s super fund until they reach age 75, up from the previous age limit of 70.

What’s more, if your spouse (married or de facto) earns less than $37,000 you may be able to claim a tax offset of up to $540 for your contribution to their super. The offset phases out once your partner’s income reaches $40,000.

The usual non-concessional contribution limits still apply, and the receiving spouse still needs to meet the work test where applicable.

Super pension drawdowns halved

Retirees whose superannuation has taken a hit from the COVID-19 market volatility have also been given a bit more wriggle room this financial year. The government has temporarily halved the minimum amount retirees must withdraw each financial year from their account-based super pension.

This temporary measure will help retirees who might otherwise have to sell assets at depressed prices to provide cash for their pension payments.

For example, someone aged 65 would normally be required to withdraw 5 per cent of their super pension account balance each financial year. But in 2020-21 they need only withdraw 2.5 per cent of their account balance if they wish. There’s no maximum withdrawal rate.

Early release of super

Younger super fund members have not been forgotten. You can withdraw up to $10,000 from your super account this financial year if you are suffering financial hardship due to the economic impact of COVID-19. This is in addition to the $10,000 you could withdraw last financial year.

It must be stressed though, that the early withdrawal of your super should be a last resort because of the adverse impact on your retirement savings. An amount of $10,000 withdrawn early in your working life could potentially be worth many times that by the time you retire.

If, after weighing up your financial options, you wish to take advantage of this temporary measure then you need to apply by 24 September 2020.

Super guarantee amnesty for employers

If you run your own business and you have taken your eye off the ball when it comes to paying the correct amount of super to your employees, then the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is offering a temporary amnesty to set things right.

You have until 7 September 2020 to disclose and pay any unpaid Super Guarantee (SG) amounts for your employees. These contribution shortfalls can be from any quarter from 1 July 1992 to 31 March 2018.

Under the amnesty, you will not have to pay the administration charge or Part 7 penalty (up to 200 per cent of the Superannuation Guarantee Charge). You can also claim a tax deduction for your payments.

If you would like more information about any of these changes or how to take advantage of them, give us a call.

Watching our online and social spending

Watching our online and social spending

The changes to our daily lives of late have caused us to reframe our views on ‘screen time’, an activity that now more than ever takes up a significant proportion of our day.

However, as we spend more time online we are also spending more online and it pays to be mindful of the ways our browsing habits impact our hip pocket.

With the average Australian spending over six hours on social media every week, it’s safe to say we’re affected by what we consume online.i This can happen consciously, from actively looking up brands and products, or subconsciously, through viewing advertisements directed at us.

Social networking to selling

When Facebook first started gaining popularity in the noughties, its focus was on social networking. By 2016 it had evolved into a marketplace so users could sell to each other, regardless of whether they were connected. Facebook also had over seven million advertisers during the third quarter of 2019 alone.ii So when you log into your Facebook account these days, it’s just as likely to be because you’ll buy something than to socialise.

Similarly, Instagram has developed from simply sharing photos. A 2019 survey showed that 81% of respondents use their accounts to research products and services, and 130 million users view shopping posts every month.iii,iv

Easy social shopping

The sophisticated and seamless purchasing experience offered by social media platforms has made shopping even easier and buy now, pay later services such as Afterpay also make it easier to purchase an online product or service through instalments.

Hard to resist targeted advertising

While users are able to search for products and purchase online, the data collected from social platforms allows marketers to target individuals based on their demographics, interests and online behaviour. Have a look at the ads that appear when you next log in – chances are they’ll be relevant to you. Your data, such as your browsing history and the apps you use, can be tracked and used to present targeted advertising on your feeds.v This practise isn’t a secret, but it can still be surprising (and even unsettling) as to how tailored this advertising can be. With advertising pinpointing your real and anticipated needs, it can be hard to resist buying. And with data kept of previous ads you responded to, you’ll see even more similar ads after you purchase from an ad – keeping you in the spending loop.

Influencing our buying behaviours

‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ is prevalent on social media, where people compete for the most likes thanks to their extravagant lifestyles. But it’s not just envy which induces us to spend. We turn to those we trust when it comes to making decisions, which is why when we see friends, families and ‘influencers’ (people we respect and trust) using a product or service and having a positive experience, this acts as social proof.

Fear Of Missing Out

FOMO – it’s a thing, and something that can be worsened by social media, making it tempting to spend on the latest gadgets or lifestyle trends. Comparing yourself to others can create anxiety and also induce spending to ‘keep up’. However, there’s a growing movement towards JOMO, the joy of missing out.

With financial anxiety on the rise, JOMO is much better for our hip pocket than FOMO.vi

Watching your hip pocket when it comes to your social spend can be challenging. If you are concerned about your spending, set a budget which allows for the amount of online shopping you are comfortable with. It’s a good idea to keep track of your purchases to ensure your spending is not to the detriment of your day to day needs as well as your longer-term financial goals.

Finally, just having a greater awareness of how social media influences your behaviour will help you to resist the subtle enticements of social marketing.

i https://www.genroe.com/blog/social-media-statisticsaustralia/13492

ii https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-statistics/

iii https://business.instagram.com/blog/how-to-sell-yourproducts-on-instagram/

iv https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-statistics/

v https://www.wired.com/story/whats-not-included-infacebooks-download-your-data/

vi https://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australianeconomy/younger-australians-are-embracing-the-joy-ofmissing-out-as-financial-anxiety-takes-its-toll/news-stor y/11ac6520fa3be768d885b855ae0c8c76

Cash is king in a crisis

Cash is king in a crisis

Most of us understand the importance of saving for a rainy day, but sometimes it takes a crisis like the current pandemic to make us act on it.

With so many jobs lost and the outlook unknown, having a cash buffer means you are more able to manage unexpected expenses or the loss of regular income.

While it might be more challenging to establish a cash buffer in this current crisis, it does underline the importance of making sure you are not living from one pay cheque to the next.

For those in a position to save, it’s still important to have cash reserves that can be accessed at short notice. So how much is enough to provide a reasonable level of short-term financial security? The answer will depend on whether you are still in the workforce or retired.

While you are working

Some say the equivalent of three months’ pay is a good start for those still working. Others simply put a figure on it, with $10,000 often suggested.

So, what is the best way to work out what is right for you?

Firstly, calculate your monthly expenses. How much do you need to cover your mortgage, utility bills, phone and internet, insurance, food, transport, health insurance and childcare? Once you know what your commitments are, then you are in a better position to budget for that rainy day.

Consider monitoring this expenditure for two to three months to allow for quarterly bills and other one-off commitments.

Build your cash buffer

The next step is to decide how you will achieve your cash buffer.

There are various savings methods. One of the easiest is just to take an amount – either a percentage or a fixed sum – automatically out of your salary each month or each pay cycle and put the money into a separate account. After all, what you never have, you never miss.

Or if you have a mortgage, you could consider putting the money in a mortgage offset account or redraw facility. That has the added benefit of helping pay off your mortgage faster, but you need to be disciplined not to touch your savings.

Now that you know your expenditure, look for new ways to trim some fat to help reach your savings goal sooner.

Realistically to build up your buffer quickly, you would need to save a minimum of $50 a week. Even then the figure would only be $2,600 at the end of the first year.

Tax refunds or other windfalls such as inheritances could be put directly into your savings fund.

If you are retired

The landscape changes once you retire. Rather than needing just three months as a buffer for emergencies, you probably need a longer time frame.

Some say you should have two to three years of cash, although 12 months is more often suggested.

Having ready cash available in retirement means you are less likely to have to sell growth assets like shares to cover your living expenses. This is particularly important if selling coincides with a falling sharemarket.

One strategy is to employ the bucket method, where you split your savings into three separate buckets, each for a different time frame.

A bucket strategy

The first bucket is to provide money for the first two to three years of retirement. This money should be held in cash investments so it is easily accessible.

The second bucket is for the medium term. Its key role is to top up bucket number one. Investments here should still be quite conservative, perhaps low risk quality stocks and/or bonds.

The third bucket is where you take more risk to cover your longer-term living expenses. This could be investments in local and international shares or other growth assets. As a result, the balance may fluctuate from year to year, but over time it should continue to grow so you don’t run out of money.

To help maintain your savings, the government has also temporarily halved the minimum amount you are required to withdraw from account-based superannuation pensions and annuities for the 2020-21 financial year. The minimum percentage payment is determined by your age.

Never has a cash buffer been more important, so contact us if you want to discuss a strategy that works to future proof your finances whatever the future holds.

This Newsletter provides general information only. The content does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider taking financial advice tailored to your personal circumstances. We have representatives that are authorised to provide personal financial advice. Please see our website https://superevo.net.au or call 02 9098 5055 for more information on our available services.