Where’s the super gap at and what can you do about it?

Vector image of a man approaching a staircase next to a woman approaching another staircase with much higher steps.

The average woman is retiring with 34% less in super than the average man despite a reduction in the super gap compared with previous years, according to a report by Financy.

The 2018 Financy Women’s Index report—which measures and tracks the economic progress of women—showed that the average lifetime gender gap in super savings is still a disappointingly wide 34%. This is despite a record number of women in full-time employment.

Although significant, the trend towards a tightened gender gap is evident.  In the financial year to 2014, the gender gap in super stood at 38%, while in the 2012 financial year it was 39%.

How are UniSuper members faring?

An ASFA analysis from 2017 shows that for those with a super account (excluding those with a nil balance), average male balances in 2015-16 were around $153,000 compared with $102,000 for females. We’re happy to report that according to our own Retirement adequacy study1, the average balance of Defined Benefit Division and Accumulation 2 members (known as ‘Permanents’ in our study) members by gender as at 30 June 2017 is $306,700 for men and $215,100 for women. This is significantly higher than the national average—but the gender gap while smaller, is still 30%.

For our Accumulation 1 members, the average account balance is significantly lower, although the gap between genders is also smaller.

  Men Women Difference
Permanents - Average balance at 30 June 2017 $306,700 $215,100 -30%
Accumulation 1 – Average balance at 30 June 2017 $73,500 $58,400 -21%

At retirement, the gender gap gets narrower

Our study found a more positive picture at retirement, particularly when the projected Age Pension (where eligible, based on assumptions) is included as retirement income.

Permanents

  Men Women Difference
Average projected balance at retirement $991,500 $767,300 -23%
Average annual income in retirement $69,300 $56,600 -18%


Accumulation 1 - Active2

  Men Women Difference
Average projected balance at retirement $306,200 $241,500 -21%
Average annual income in retirement $33,500 $30,200 -10%


What you can do to help bridge the gap

While statistics are a good reminder of the current situation for women regarding their super, it’s important to remember there are ways to help you grow your super.

Top yourself up

Research shows that people who are able to contribute a bit more to their super over time wind up with a greater end retirement balance—makes sense. We get that finding extra money for super isn’t necessarily easy. But if you are able to put some of your before-tax salary directly into your super in addition to your normal employer contributions, it could make a surprising difference to your retirement balance. Find out how this works.

SPLIT SUPER WITH YOUR SPOUSE

If you’re not currently working or are taking a career break, perhaps you have a partner who could split some of their super contributions into your account. It's a great way to boost your super if you don't work, are on a lower income or getting close to retirement.

Combine super

Simplify your super, simplify your life. Having your super in the one account generally means less fees and easier management of your retirement income. Get your super together.


1 In 2015, we developed a study that investigates the retirement adequacy of our members, to help us ensure they reach their desired standard of living in retirement. It examines the retirement preparedness of our members using each individual’s salary, age, gender, contribution patterns and current balance.

Many super funds have historically relied on the ASFA Retirement Standard to benchmark how members are tracking towards retirement adequacy. However, as we have a membership base of largely professional members who tend to have higher salaries and higher super contributions (in particular the Permanents), we identified an opportunity to develop a study more specifically aligned with our membership base.

2 Active Accumulation 1 members are those who’ve had employer SG contributions paid into their accounts around the time of the study.