Super, just super

The other day a couple of large letters arrived from my friendly not-so-local Superannuation Industry Fund. It’s not-so-local cos they are based in Queensland.

One contained yet another of those damn credit-card size friendly happy here-are-our-contect-details cards. Why? I can look the phone number up on the web site, or in the phone book.

So many organisations seem to think that their contact or other details are of such vital importance that I must carry them at all times: membership cards, credit cards, health insurance cards, drivers licences, the list goes on. Some are important. But the phone number to ring my super fund?  If we all carried every card we were ever sent, we’d have wallets and purses 4 cm thick, and walk Quasimodo-style with a limping gait becuase of being unbalanced. Sack the PR flacks and cut your expenses!

So, I’ve ceremonially filed the card. I should just throw it out but the bower-bird in me struggles.

Then came the even bigger envelope, the one I’ve been putting off opening. Putting off because of expecting it to be yet another announcement of their terrible results: telling me how much money they’ve lost.

But no – it was not to be. Instead, it announces that one of the myriad of fund options is closing, and I need to either accept their default change or nominate a new allocation.

Now, folks, I consider myself to be moderately financially literate. But when I get a 40 page book from a super fund telling me the methods to allocate risk, select a set of up to 10 fund options, evaluate past performance, yada yada yada,  well – my brain turns to mush, I lose the will to live, and seriously consider poking an eye out with a fork because it’s more fun.

Most people don’t understand share markets, risk/return trade-offs, or finance in pretty much any form.  I struggle wading through the waffle. It is completely beyond me how others who know less can make a sensible decision about allocating their super contributions into different fund options.

6 Comments

I have several (well, lots, really) customers who DO seem to carry every single card they’ve ever acquired. Seriously, it takes them several minutes to locate the credit card they want to pay for their groceries with. And they don’t start looking for said card until the groceries are fully bagged and I’m waiting for payment. Meanwhile the rest of the queue starts looking a tad impatient.
I never read the stuff my super fund sends me. I look at the bottom line of the statement to see how much or how little money is in the fund, then file it.

Comment by river | June 7th, 2009 4:13 pm | Permalink

I do the same as River does re the super statement and mine dipped alarmingly this year.

However, as for choosing a new one, try this: select three with the prettiest logos and eliminate them by tossing a coin. Can’t be any more difficult to understand (or predict) than an expert, surely?

Comment by Kath Lockett | June 7th, 2009 4:40 pm | Permalink

My super fund after I joined it sent me a thick A4 size booklet with information about their performance, risk allocation, etc. It was exactly as interesting as you described so it went to the recycling bin a minute after the envelope was opened. A year later another one came… A4 again, thick, fine quality glossy paper, all in colours. What a waste.

So I sent them email asking to stop posting me the booklets because of no use. They replied the next day and indeed stopped posting those. I now get annual statements from them on 2-3 pages. Wish they had an option for sending those in email as PDF documents.

PDFs I get from mobile phone provider, ISP and even bank work better than printed bills/statements because they don’t take space on the shelf and it takes only a few mouse clicks to find them when needed. Also it is nice to know the environment doesn’t suffer when producing and sending them.

Comment by george | June 7th, 2009 10:18 pm | Permalink

Blame shonky funds with shonky underlying assets and shonky Financial Planners . . the book is a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). ASIC prescribes it’s content and requires that one be sent every time ANYTHING administratively related to a fund, bank account, insurance policy or financial investment is changed. It’s a total waste of paper. All Financial Advisers are also obliged to provide clients (before they even become clients) with a Financial Services Guide (FSG) outlining how they make money from you . . .another total waste of paper that has to be up to date all the time . . another example of pandering to the minority and boring the bejeezus out of the majority. Not to mention making short shrift of old growth forests!

Comment by Baino | June 8th, 2009 4:31 am | Permalink

I know the book is the PDS, and I’m well aware of the FSG’s that get sent around with merry abandon. In my case after being a client of a firm for something like 10 years, suddenly the deluge of FSG’s and the need to sign off on them is all a bit much.

The trouble with all this extra disclosure that’s required in the name of transparency is that it seems to make things less transparent by burying anything meaningful inside a mass of jargon, spin, and hoopla. That’s probably the intention.

My feeling on looking at this stuff is that life is too short. To read all this tripe.

Comment by Wally | June 8th, 2009 12:33 pm | Permalink

Quite so Wally and having actually written our FSG I have no idea why it has to be written that way. Any attempt to make it ‘understandable’ was thwarted by the partners or the compliance auditor. It could be written in plain English if the industry just pulled it’s finger out. Also they have to be reissued with a version number on them every time there’s a change and to ALL clients. It’s a pain! Crazy thing is, ASIC aren’t interested in whether your FSG is smashingly up to date even though they dictated it should be, they’re just tryin to stop planners and fundies ripping off the public and misrepresenting themselves but they’ve got the whole industry in a spin of paranoia. I’m with you I hate the things and they just go straight in the recycle bin!

Comment by Baino | June 12th, 2009 7:21 am | Permalink

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