Commonwealth Bank media release


  • Women are more confident than expected in managing their SMSF and in their understanding of different asset classes, although still far less confident than men
  • Women are seeking flexibility around timing of personal super contributions - particularly through work life disruption
  • 40 per cent of SMSF trustees believe they will retire at an older age due to parental leave

A new research study jointly released today by Commonwealth Bank and the SMSF Association has uncovered significant findings including differences between the behaviours and confidence levels of men and women SMSF trustees.

Andrea Slattery, Managing Director/CEO, SMSF Association said, “We welcome this in-depth research as it genuinely addresses the engagement and confidence of women in their investments and superannuation savings throughout their lifecycle.”  

The research has found that although women account for 47 per cent of Australian SMSF trustees, they are less confident than men in managing their SMSF (83 per cent to 62 per cent), and less assured of their understanding across the asset classes - however are more confident than expected.

The report surveyed 801 SMSF trustees, as well as 535 individuals without a SMSF, to better understand the behaviours, confidence levels and outlook for the different demographic profiles of SMSF investors.

According to the research, 72 per cent of all SMSFs have more than one member, with a partner or spouse (88 per cent) the most common second trustee. Among SMSFs with multiple trustees, men (65 per cent) are significantly more likely than women (28 per cent) to be the sole main decision maker.

Marcus Evans, Head of SMSF Customers, Commonwealth Bank, said the report clearly highlights that SMSF trustees are not all the same and the market is comprised of many different and diverse types of investors with their own unique needs.

“Every SMSF is different, from the types of investments held to how a fund is managed, and these differences have not been well understood historically. This research also shows that there is still a real gender divide for trustees when it comes to confidence and knowledge.

“Given that women account for nearly half of all SMSF members, more must be done to better support and empower female trustees. This is also true when it comes to funds with joint-trustees, with major life events such as a divorce leaving many female trustees without the confidence to manage what is many individuals biggest investment,” Mr Evans said.

Andrea Slattery added: “When life events such as a relationship breakdown occurs, this research shows how women in particular need extra assistance to become confident in continuing their savings programs.

“It also highlights the significance of parental leave and broken work patterns and shows that we must have flexible policies which address and protect women from being left behind by Australia's superannuation system.”

Among SMSF trustees who have taken parental leave, more women (61 per cent) than men (27 per cent) say they now have less super than they otherwise would if they hadn’t taken a break from work to care for family. More than 40 per cent of SMSF trustees who have taken parental leave believe they will have to work longer before they can afford to retire.

Perhaps not surprisingly, one third of SMSF trustees who made no special arrangements for their super while on parental leave would do things differently and make additional contributions to cover any future periods of leave.

More than four in ten SMSF trustees (42 per cent) have had an event occur in their life, including loss of employment, a separation/divorce, or death of co-trustee, since starting their SMSF that could have significant implications for the management of their super.

In the event of divorce or separation resulting in a partner ceasing to be a trustee, only half of SMSF members (49 per cent) believe they would be very confident they have sufficient knowledge to take sole responsibility for managing their investments.

Access a copy of the full report here


About the research

The research was developed and conducted by Galaxy Research among a national sample of Australian consumers which included 801 SMSF members and trustees and 535 without an SMSF aged 18 years and older. Respondents were sourced from TEG Rewards’ proprietary panel of more than 1 million Australian consumers. The respondents were distributed throughout Australia, including both capital city and non-capital city areas. Following the completion of interviewing, the data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.

About the SMSF Association

The SMSF Association is the peak professional body representing the SMSF sector throughout Australia. The Association’s mandate is to lead the professionalism, integrity and sustainability of the SMSF sector. Its core focus is to raise the standard of advice provided by all professionals to the SMSF industry and to assist the SMSF trustee make informed decisions for their future retirement.

The SMSF Association is committed to promoting a high standard of education among SMSF professionals and trustees and assisting them to work within the regulatory framework, to enable the industry to self-regulate and promote best practice. The Association exists to continually improve the quality of advisors, the knowledge of trustees and the credibility and health of a vibrant SMSF community.

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