Self-Serve Financial Advice Options

This blogpost is PART ONE, of our series on Financial Advice.

Do You Need a Financial Advisor?

Do you like to have your finger on the pulse of all that is going on in your finances? Or maybe you feel like you should be more aware of what is happening with your superannuation but aren’t quite sure where to start? While many of our members are actively involved with their super, we are always looking for ways to help more of our members understand their super.

This post is the first of a series all about seeking financial advice. In this post, we’ll help you identify some of the things you may already be doing (or can do) yourself, as well as some of the ways our Member Care Team and our free online Self-service advice can help you. The next instalment in this series will discuss other financial advice options available through Christian Super and later posts will address situations where comprehensive financial advice may be required as well as how to choose the right advisor.

What you can do yourself

There is a lot you can do to boost your super savings over time. What you choose to do, however, will depend on your life stage, the amount of extra money you have available to invest, and how financially savvy you are.

If you are working towards saving for a house deposit OR paying off your mortgage (or incurring expenses such as private school fees) and cashflow is quite tight, you may not wish to make additional super contributions at this stage. However, in saying that, with a little bit of planning, you may still be able to take advantage of the generous Government Co-contribution Scheme as a first step towards increasing your retirement savings above the 10% super guarantee paid by your employer.

If you are in a position where you have some extra money available and are considering adding a little extra to your super, it is important to understand the amount you can contribute. Are you aware of the rules governing (and the potential advantages of) the government co-contribution scheme, making salary sacrifice contributions, and making tax deductible contributions? Depending on your situation, you may feel confident in making these additional contributions without the need for guidance.

You should be aware of what investment option/s your super is invested in. Each option is structured to provide a different level of risk and return, which are designed to meet the differing needs of members. Your age, the length of time till you expect to need your super and general comfort with risk all play a part in determining the right option for you. You may be comfortable deciding which option is right for you on your own. If so, you can change your investment option online by logging in to MemberAccess.

Another way you can sort out your super by yourself is to check how many different superfunds you have accounts with, perhaps set up by previous employers. It is generally beneficial to consolidate your super into one account, saving on paying fees to multiple super funds. However, if you have insurance policies in multiple super funds and you want to retain these, you should consider speaking with a financial advisor before making any changes.

You can easily consolidate your super by logging in to MemberAccess and clicking on ‘Consolidate Super’.

What our Member Care Team can help you with

Our Member Care Team can assist with factual enquiries, including conversations about accessing your super. They can help you update your details, set up your online account access, and help with resetting your online account password. They can also help you consolidate other super accounts into Christian Super and assist with insurance claims (they will even pray with you over the phone if needed).

Our Member Care Team can give general advice about the government co-contribution scheme and making additional contributions but cannot advise whether this is right for you. They can provide you with forms to notify Christian Super if you have made additional contributions and wish to claim these as tax deduction.

Wondering if you’ve chosen the investment option that’s right for you? While our Member Care Team can’t take into account your personal circumstances, they can provide you with information about which options are generally suitable for people at different ages. They can also assist you in changing your investment options.

Self-serve advice you can access online

Are you aware that Christian Super offers a self-serve advice product that you can access online anywhere, anytime? This is called SmartAdvice and is provided free of charge to our members. This service provides you with retirement projections as well as advice to help you find the right Christian Super options and settings for your personal needs.

You can use this tool to generate a retirement projection, as well as for advice on how to improve your retirement savings. SmartAdvice can assist in four main areas:

  • Retirement projections
  • Additional contribution strategies
  • Investment option selection and,
  • Understanding your insurance needs

Following completion of the SmartAdvice process, a limited ‘Statement of Advice’ will be generated. You may wish to implement some or all of the recommendations made. Some can be completed online, and our Member Care Team can assist you to take other steps.

To access this, log in to MemberAccess and click on ‘SmartAdvice’ in the ‘Links’ menu. The tool will pre-fill with your Christian Super details and will ask you to enter some additional information. You should allow about half an hour to complete the whole process in one sitting.

You may also choose to make some changes in your financial habits outside of super (e.g. reducing some expenses to have more funds available for additional contributions) and re-running the SmartAdvice program to see the effect that increased regular contributions could have on your retirement savings. You can re-use the tool as many times as you like.

We note that this is a limited type of intrafund advice, which means it relates only to your personal super account with Christian Super. You will be asked to enter information about your spouse’s age, income, and super account balance, which is considered as part of the overall retirement savings goal required to support you. Please note, however, that there are limits in the SmartAdvice program’s ability to consider your financial situation as a couple. An example is that SmartAdvice may determine that a lower earning spouse cannot afford to make additional contributions based on their low salary, with the reality being that the higher earning spouse may be covering the household expenses.

Beyond self-serve advice

We hope that this blog has helped you to engage with your super and encouraged you to avail yourself of the self-serve advice options available. We anticipate that sometimes this process can raise more questions than it answers, and we look forward to identifying next steps you can take in upcoming blogposts.

Click here for the next instalment of this series, where we will discuss phone based financial advice options.

Please note that the information contained in this post is a summary and general in nature. It does not take into account the personal objectives, financial situation or specific needs of individual members. We strongly recommend that you refer to our Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Investment Guide for the full terms and conditions and obtain professional financial advice to determine the appropriateness of the information, taking into account your own personal circumstances.