Investment insights: October to December 2023

Daniel Selioutine - 15 Mar 2024

Daniel Selioutine (Group Executive, Investments) provides commentary on the global financial trends in the last quarter of 2023, how they affect ESSSuper's investment performance, and looks towards the future.



There was significant loosening of financial conditions priced by investment markets from October to December 2023.

Inflation continued to fall and market expectations for interest rate cuts in the United States were stoked by a sudden "dovish" change in the narrative from the U.S. Federal Reserve. In other words, a sudden shift towards policies that stimulate spending. Markets reacted strongly, with sovereign bond yields falling sharply (bond prices rose), and equity markets rallying.

Economic growth in the U.S. continues to show resilience, supported by low unemployment, and solid consumer and government spending. This has buoyed the market hopes that, as inflation moves towards target, the Federal Reserve can cut interest rates while avoiding recession.

Australia's inflation rate has also fallen from its peak, however, in contrast to the U.S., Australia's Reserve Bank increased the cash rate over the quarter. The Australian cash rate remains meaningfully under that of the U.S.

China's economy remains weak, with house prices continuing to fall and inflation turning negative. Despite the drag of China's property sector, iron ore prices rose higher over the quarter which supported Australian equities.

Duration-sensitive assets (including growth style equities, listed property and sovereign bonds) finished the year strongly and reversed losses incurred in the previous quarter.

The Accumulation Plan investment performance table below shows three-year performance against inflation objectives remains challenged but has improved as inflation has gradually declined.

Looking forward; many challenges remain, with the possibility of slowing economic growth, inflation remaining "sticky" (i.e. taking longer than expected to decrease) and geopolitical risk remaining elevated.

Accumulation Plan investment performance

  1 year to 31 December 2023 3 years to 31 December 2023
Returns (%) Objective1 (%) Returns (%) Objective1 (%)
Shares Only 16.4 8.1 8.1 9.1
Growth 13.6 8.1 7.7 9.1
Balanced Growth 12.8 7.3 7.9 8.4
Ethical Diversified 8.6 7.1 5.3 8.1
Balanced 9.8 7.1 5.9 8.1
Conservative 8.0 6.1 4.6 7.1
Capital Stable 6.6 5.1 3.2 6.1
Defensive 5.4 4.1 1.7 5.1
Cash2 4.8 3.9 2.1 1.7

1. Investment objectives are calculated using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data ending December 2023.
2. The Cash investment option has a gross of tax investment objective. Cash option returns are depicted gross of tax to enable comparison.


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SuperRatings Pty Limited (ABN 95 100 192 283, AFSL No. 311880) (SuperRatings) is a third party superannuation research company providing data analysis, information and commentary to both the public and the superannuation industry. Established in 2002, it is the most widely used and accepted ratings firm in the superannuation industry. Refer to for more information. Ratings are only one factor to be taken into account when choosing a super fund.

This investment commentary does not constitute advice. All investment figures quoted relate to before-tax performance of the relevant industry benchmark. Investment returns cannot be guaranteed as investment markets can be volatile. As a consequence, returns can be positive or negative. All investments carry risks and 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 Australian Financial Complaints Authority. ESSSuper comes under the jurisdiction of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. ESSSuper is an exempt public sector superannuation scheme, and is not regulated by APRA or ASIC, but is governed by Victorian legislation.

Emergency Services Superannuation Board (ABN 28 161 296 741) (ESSB), the Trustee of the Emergency Services Superannuation Scheme (ABN 85 894 637 037) (ESSSuper).

The information contained in this article is of a general nature only. It should not be considered as a substitute for reading ESSSuper's Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) that contains detailed information about ESSSuper products, services and features. Before making a decision about an ESSSuper product, you should consider the appropriateness of the product to your personal objectives, financial situation and needs. It may also be beneficial to seek professional advice from a licensed financial planner or adviser. An ESSSuper PDS is available on our PDS and handbooks web page or by contacting us.


  • Investments
  • Superannuation

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