Are you with the top 10 super fund of 2022–23?

SuperRatings double digit returns esssuper hostplus super returns Australian retirement trust

17 July 2023
| By Rhea Nath |
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ESSSuper has beat out mega funds like Australian Retirement Trust and Aware Super to deliver the top Balanced option performance for the year ended June 2023, according to SuperRatings. 

The $34 billion fund delivered a 13.3 per cent return in the last 12 months, followed by Vision Super (11 per cent) and Brighter Super (10.6 per cent). 

The top five performing balanced options were rounded up by UniSuper (10.3 per cent) and Equip Super (10.1 per cent). 

SuperRatings said fund options classed as balanced are those with between 60 and 70 per cent of their portfolio invested in growth assets.

According to ESSSuper’s group executive for investments, Daniel Selioutine, the fund’s performance follows a “multi-year program of reorienting the portfolio towards areas of competitive advantage.”

He said: “Our shorter-term performance is explained by our positioning in equities and bonds, however, our dedicated investment team remains firmly focused on delivering longer-term investment outcomes to members.”

In comparison, Australia’s second-largest super fund, $240 billion fund Australian Retirement Trust, came in the sixth position with a 10 per cent return in its Balanced option while $160 billion fund Aware Super came in eighth with a 9.7 per cent return. 

Top 10 balanced fund performance
Fund option 1 year return (%)

ESSSuper Accum – Basic Growth


Vision SS – Balanced Growth

Brighter Super Accum – Balanced
UniSuper Accum – Balanced
Equip MyFuture – Balanced Growth
ART – Super Savings – Balanced
IOOF Employer Super Core – IOOF MultiSeries 70
Aware Super Future Saver – Balanced
Mercer Super Trust – Mercer Select Growth 

HESTA Balanced Growth


Source: SuperRatings, July 2023

SuperRatings observed that in 2023, funds have managed to deliver a competitive outcome during uncertain times, with funds that invested between 60 and 76 per cent of their portfolio in growth assets delivering strong results for their members. 

“The second half of the financial year provided the majority of gains for funds, led by a rally in international shares,” the research house stated.

“A key theme for returns in 2023 was that funds with higher exposure to shares generally outperformed for the year, while those with greater exposure to unlisted property and alternatives reported more subdued outcomes. As a result, members who were invested in index funds generally did quite well, given the strong focus on listed shares in these options.”

Looking at passive balanced options over the last 12 months, $74 billion fund HESTA took the pole position with a 12.5 per cent return. 

SuperRatings added: “While this sits slightly lower than the top-performing balanced option, over the past 12 months, balanced index options have tended to outperform their more actively managed equivalents.”

This was followed by Rest (12.4 per cent) and Hostplus (12.3 per cent). 

Sustainable balanced options also delivered strong performance, with Raiz Super’s Emerald investment option matching the top-performing balanced option with a return of 13.3 per cent.

Other top performers in this category were Super SA (12.1 per cent), UniSuper (11 per cent), Aware Super (10.9 per cent), and Future Super (10.5 per cent). 

Notably, Future Super received an ASIC infringement notice in May this year over alleged greenwashing for a 2019 Facebook post that “may have been false or misleading by overstating the positive environmental impact of the fund.” 

Looking ahead

Over a 10-year horizon, Hostplus’ Balanced option remained the highest-performing balanced option with 8.9 per cent returns per annum. 

The super, which had some of the largest exposures to property, recently announced it would be discontinuing its single sector property and infrastructure investment options from 1 October 2023.

Instead, it would introduce six new “pre-mixed” investment options for its members.

SuperRatings’ executive director, Kirby Rappell added: “We observed funds reviewing and writing down their unlisted asset valuations at the end of the financial year, contributing to the moderately weaker annual performance of funds with significant exposure to these assets in FY23.

“However, over the long term, they have added value to member outcomes, with many of the top-performing options over 10 years having exposure to alternative assets.”

For FY23, the research house noted the continued trend of increased fluctuation in member account balances, with five out of the 12 months in the year having negative performance. 

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, managing volatility has really come back into focus for funds after almost a decade of steady gains. The sharp rise in inflation and global uncertainty has been a constant over the past couple of years and we expect this to persist,” Rappell said.

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Submitted by Balanced, Not … on Mon, 2023-07-17 13:59

The ESSS 'Basic Growth' fund has 72% allowed to Growth assets and 28% Defensive assets. Hardly a 'Balanced' portfolio. Try researching a little more rather than going off the headline name for the investment option

Submitted by Marie on Mon, 2023-07-17 14:21

What a sensationalist headline. I would tune it down a bit and take a pause and reflect. As often there is a side effect with initiatives of the Government to do good. Have you thought of how many people/clients would potentially be churned from super fund to super fund (as ratings differ from year to another) in chase of best returns? This chasing from fund to fund resulting from market interruptions, transaction costs, crystallization of cgt could be counterproductive in trying to achieve long term returns.

Submitted by Mr S Milgram on Mon, 2023-07-17 15:03

Dear Ms Nath,
It is really nice to see the puff piece here provided for the industry funds - but in stating raw (reported) performances you have totally missed the connection between what is reported - and what is fact. You state that the funds have returns for "Balanced " Funds for the period. One could assume that the general public is being conveniently massaged. A little conceptual commentary - the "balanced" Asset Allocation relates to the proportion of defensive assets vs growth assets. - and is relates to one measure of risk for the portfolio ie the more growth assets - the riskier. Curious when you look at the returns - with every fund in fact returning more that the ASX 200 for the same period - one can only be led to the conclusion that the risk taken by these portfolios - is in fact riskier than a Hi Growth - a fully listed share portfolio -with no defensive assets. that is, if the returns here exceed the ASX 200- then by definition, the portfolio must have a higher degree of risk than the ASX 200-. A headline rate of return is absolutely meaningless - (if not dishonest) - without the attendant level of risk taken to achieve these returns. I suggest you have been played - they are not balanced funds at all. The "investors'" money is being used for far significantly riskier activities. ( One could say - that they were fully invested in the Aus Stock market - because that is near half close to the total return of the accumulation index = S&P/ASX 200 Gross Total Return Index (XJT)

Submitted by TimMelb on Mon, 2023-07-17 15:37

to whoever writes or categorizes this rubbish, can you please stop referring to super funds as 'balanced'. Some of these funds have nothing to do with balanced options. Alot of these funds have more than 80% in aggressive assets. How in any universe does this count as 'balanced'. This leads to people to wrong comparisons, potentially poor decisions & lack of investigation of the risks. Let's start having all of these funds quote the highest aggressive allocation held throughout the year to see how they truly compare. Now that's a compare the pair analysis I'd love to see !!!!

Submitted by Peter Bowman on Mon, 2023-07-17 15:59

Have to be careful on this. Super ratings is not comparing apples with apples. What one super fund calls balanced is hardly the same for another one. They all have different asset allocations, which ultimately determines performance. I suspect most everyday Australians just look at the name and not the underlying asset allocation.

Submitted by Bob Duruncle on Tue, 2023-07-18 07:19

More manufactured returns. Our unlisted real estate held up well despite losing half the tenants. Yeah ok.

Keep perpetuating the myth that some shrewd allocations to global equities were the reason for the returns. I saw unicorns flying over Collins St yesterday.

Submitted by Anon on Tue, 2023-07-18 10:47

And you can bet they'll advertise these returns for the whole of the next two years even when they turn negative....

How is a loan to Virgin Airways during Covid shutdowns earning over 9% "defensive".

It's much easy to claim their returns are achieved by global equities because it's too hard to explain a high allocation to private credit and negative returns in fixed rate bonds. Majority of my clients have outperformed these funds this "time frame" and any Advised Client invested in similar asset allocations could beat these returns....When I show clients what the actual asset allocation of these funds most shudder. Spreading 17% of funds across 34 managers that specialize in sub grade "junk" bonds and "private credit" and calling these private credit instruments "defensive" when a rating company like Moody ranks them as extremely high chance of default in the most minor of economic downturns is crazy.

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