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Understanding your ESSSuper Benefit Statement

August 05 2021

We get that super can be difficult to understand. That’s why we’re here to help answer any questions you may have about your super. This may be the case when you’re reviewing your Member Benefit Statement.

Let’s take the estimated closing balance as an example.

From time to time you may see market volatility reflected on your statement as positive or negative returns over the short-term of six months to a year. To get a true indication of how your super is performing, we recommend viewing the performance of your super over the long-term, such as over five to 10 years.

To view how ESSSuper funds have performed over the long-term click here.

Recent performance

ESSSuper achieves high performance benchmark, despite market decline.

In late 2018, equity markets experienced a major decline in performance that will have negatively impacted investment returns of some of our investment options with exposure to growth assets.  

Even as ESSSuper investment options feel the impact of this decline, our downside protection approach to investing continues to assist with the majority of our options outperforming our superannuation peers1

Despite market volatility or fluctuations, ESSSuper has maintained a steady upward growth trajectory over the previous 10 years. 

ESSSuper is currently ranked in the top quartile (Q1) of high performing Australian super funds over 1 year across most of our growth options.2

The below graph shows the impact of the recent equity market decline. 

Growth in ESSSuper’s Accumulation Fund

ESSSuper Accumulation Fund 10 year Cumulative Returns, from December 2007 to December 2018. (Net of investment fees)


What the chart above is showing:

  • Members who invested $100 into our Cash Option on 30 September 2008 have seen their super grow to $132 by 31 December 2018. 
  • By comparison, members who invested in the Growth Option saw their $100 almost double to $194 by 31 December 2018 – despite their investment falling to $89 dollars along the way.

It is important to remember superannuation is a long-term investment with a long-term time horizon. Switching between investment options based on short-term returns can materially impact your long term investment performance.

Understanding the equity market, investments and what it means for you.

Our aim is to help our members achieve a comfortable and financially secure life in retirement through a consistent and considered investment approach. 

In the short term, market volatility describes the more frequent movement between higher and lower investment returns. This is influenced by a range of factors within Australian and international markets. 

That’s why – when it comes to making decisions that help your retirement – ESSSuper adheres to a range of foundational principles that seek to minimise the impact on your investments against significant falls in the market. 

Whether you’re in the workforce, preparing to retire or are in retirement; understanding these factors place you in a stronger position to make the right choices about your super. 

If you would like to learn more about how our investment approach works, click here.

Investment Market Update 

Presented by the ESSSuper Head of Investment, Daniel Selioutine. 


If I change my investment option what happens to the order of my regular payments?

Unless you nominate the investment options from which your income payments are to be made, they will be paid from the lowest to highest risk investment options in which you have invested your Income Stream (i.e. Cash, Defensive, Conservative, Balanced, Growth, Basic Growth, Ethically Minded, High Growth, Shares Only). Nominations can be made on the Income Stream application form when you first apply for your Income Stream, or any time thereafter via your Members Online account or by completing the Investment drawdown order for income stream payments (form E149) (PDF 73.1KB).

Will switching help me to achieve higher returns?

It’s important to remember that superannuation is a long term investment with a long-term time horizon.

Switching between investment options based on short-term returns can materially impact the performance of your superannuation investments over the long-term.Ups and downs in share markets are a normal part of the investment cycle. History shows that after periods of poor performance, markets often ‘bounce back’. During these volatile times, the temptation is to change investment options. However, investors who move out of the market when shares fall, run the risk of missing out on significant gains when markets recover. Experienced investors understand that it pays to stay focused on their long-term investment goals.

Why has the market been negative recently?

Investing in equity markets can be inherently risky in the short-term. In late 2018, equity markets experienced a major decline in performance that will have negatively impacted the investment returns of our investment options with exposure to growth assets. However, our longer term performance remains strong.

While there was significant coverage of the decline of various equity markets around the world in October and November 2018, it’s important to understand these fluctuations aren’t unusual for investments based in domestic and international equity markets. The negative returns derived from the decline in equity markets, highlights the importance of having a well-diversified portfolio. This is why ESSSuper invests in various types of asset classes, combined with a long term investment strategy to manage investment volatility along the way.

What do the fees I pay go towards?

The majority of your fees go towards investment and administration costs.

Investment fees are fees in payment for the exercise of care and expertise in the investment of those assets.

Investment managers, administrators and advisers charge a fee to invest your funds and manage the assets in each investment option. Investment costs will vary each year, depending on the investment managers used during the year. These costs are calculated monthly as a percentage of your balance and are deducted from the investment returns before the crediting rate is applied to your account.

Administration fees relate to the fees charged for the administration and operation of your account in the superannuation fund.

Please refer to the relevant Fees and Costs section of the PDS associated with your product for further information about fees and costs.

Our Accumulation Plan and Income Stream investment options remain well-diversified and have downside protection built in to the investment strategy. Members benefited from this downside protection when markets declined in the latter half of 2018 and our investment options outperformed median peers in the SuperRatings survey1. ESSSuper will continue to manage the Accumulation Plan and Income Stream’s investment options to deliver optimal retirement outcomes for our members.

How long until this current market decline improves?

Looking forward over the year ahead, there may be increased pressure on equity markets from tightening monetary policy across much of the developed world. Economic activity however remains relatively robust and not at recession levels.

Equity markets may respond positively in 2019 from Chinese stimulus, more clarity around Brexit discussions and slower interest rate increases by the central banks. Domestically in Australia, economic growth remains relatively positive with unemployment at a low of 5 per cent in December 20182. Inflation was at 1.9 per cent, which is below the RBA’s 2 to 3 per cent target range. The Reserve Bank has kept interest rates on hold at 1.5 per cent, which will support the economy and the local share market. While nobody can predict the course of 2019, our Accumulation Plan and Income Stream investment options are well diversified and have downside protection built in to the investment strategy. Importantly, we remain confident that our Accumulation Plan and Income Stream investment options will achieve their long term return objectives.

1SuperRatings, November 2018 Accumulation Fund Crediting Rate Survey
2Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Key Economic Indicators Snapshot, 5 December 2018


Get the most out of your super.

We have a proud history working with members just like you to help them understand their super and achieve their retirement goals. So whether you are a super novice, or would like more information, we are here to help you all the way. 
Here are just a few simple things you could do.

  • Understanding the basics of super – Most people don’t think about their super until they are nearing retirement. To get a basic overview of what superannuation is, and how you can improve your retirement prospects click here.
  • Videos - We've put a range of videos together to help keep you informed and assist you to get the most out of your super with us. Click here to find out more.
  • Calculators - Take some time to play around with our calculators to better understand your super. You might discover new ways you can improve your retirement outcomes! Click here for more information.
  • Seminars - ESSSuper runs a range of seminars to help our members better understand Superannuation and the options available to them. We have seminars that cover super basics all the way to retirement planning and support during retirement. To get started, click here to find a seminar that is appropriate to you.
  • Contact us - If you're unable to find the answer on our website, or if you'd like more information, we are here to help.

Investment returns cannot be guaranteed as investment markets can be volatile. As a consequence, returns can be positive or negative. Past investment performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Benefits in ESSSuper’s Accumulation Plan, Income Streams and Beneficiary Account products are not guaranteed or underwritten by the Victorian Government or ESSSuper, and ESSSuper does not come under the jurisdiction of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.
Before making a decision about an ESSSuper product or service please consider our Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) that is available at esssuper.com.au or by calling us on 1300 650 161.
Emergency Services Superannuation Board ABN 28 161 296 741 (ESSB) is the Trustee of the Emergency Services Superannuation Scheme ABN 85 894 637 037 (ESSSuper). Both the ESSB and the operations of ESSSuper are governed by the Emergency Services Superannuation Act 1986 and related legislation.