Investing, Reports

Best performing super funds in Australia

We compare the best performing super funds in Australia in 2021 – and the worst.

Want to find out who the best and worst super funds are for 2021?

2021 is the ninth year Stockspot has researched Australia’s largest super funds for our annual Fat Cat Funds Report.

We report on the top performing super funds by comparing ~600 multi-asset investment options offered by Australia’s largest 100 super funds to find the best super funds – and the worst. The funds were assessed on how they performed, after fees, compared to other super options of similar risk over five years.

Download the report now to see how your fund compares, or keep reading a summary of our research.

  • Top performing super funds – Fit Cat Funds
  • Worst performing super funds – Fat Cat Funds
  • Best performing aggressive growth super funds
  • Best performing growth super funds
  • Best performing balanced super funds
  • Best performing moderate super funds
  • Industry vs retail super fund performance
  • How does Stockspot compare?
  • Best super funds 2021

    2021 Gold Fit Cat Fund Awards – Unisuper and Qantas Super

    In 2021, Unisuper took out the Gold Fit Cat Fund award for a second consecutive year for the most top performing funds over five years. Unisuper is one of the largest super funds in Australia managing over $100b for its 450,000+ members. It shares the award this year with Qantas Super, as their corporate superannuation plan for its staff had four Fit Cat Funds.

    UniSuper Fit Cat Fund Options
    UniSuper – High Growth
    UniSuper – Sustainable High Growth
    UniSuper – Sustainable Balanced
    UniSuper – Balanced
    QANTAS SUPER FIT CAT FUND OPTIONS
    Qantas Super – Growth
    Qantas Super – Balanced
    Qantas Super – Glidepath: Destination
    Qantas Super – Conservative

    2021 Silver Fit Cat Fund Award – AustralianSuper and Fiducian Super

    The Silver award goes to both AustralianSuper and Fiducian Super with four Fit Cat Funds each. AustralianSuper is no stranger to the Stockspot Fit Cat Fund Awards having taken out the Bronze award in 2020, while Fiducian (a retail super fund with over $2b in assets) makes its first appearance in our list.

    AUSTRALIANSUPER FIT CAT FUND OPTIONS 
    AustralianSuper – Balanced
    AustralianSuper – Conservative Balanced
    AustralianSuper – Stable
    FIDUCIAN SUPER FIT CAT FUND OPTIONS 
    Fiducian Super – Ultra Growth Fund
    Fiducian Super – Balanced Fund
    Fiducian Super – Capital Stable Fund

    2021 Bronze Fit Cat Fund Awards – Aware Super, IOOF, Holden and AMG

    The Bronze award gets shared between multiple superannuation providers this year. After taking out the Silver award last year, IOOF shares the Bronze award with Aware Super, Holden Corporate Super plan and AMG Super.

    AWARE SUPER FIT CAT FUND OPTIONS 
    Aware Super – High Growth
    Aware Super – Growth
    IOOF SUPER FIT CAT FUND OPTIONS 
    IOOF – MultiMix Balanced Growth
    IOOF – MultiMix Capital Stable
    HOLDEN SUPER FIT CAT FUND OPTIONS 
    Holden Employees Superannuation Fund – Cautious
    Holden Employees Superannuation Fund – Conservative
    AMG SUPER FIT CAT FUND OPTIONS 
    AMG Super – AMG Balanced
    AMG Super – AMG Capital Stable

    What did the top three super funds have in common? Low fees! 

    Despite having different investment strategies, the one factor these funds all had in common was investment fees of around 1% or under.

    Congratulations to our Fit Cat Fund winners for 2021. Don’t forget to check on their performance in our Fat Cat Funds Report next year.

    Worst super funds 2021

    Last place: OnePath

    Onepath has topped our list for the most Fat Cat Funds with a grand total of 10 underperforming options, and has been in the Fat Cat Fund category for nine years in a row. Last year, we called upon IOOF (OnePath’s parent owner and 2021 Fit Cat Bronze Award) to look to lower its fees and improve their performance, but it looks like they prefer to keep expensive fund options and members locked into underperforming funds for their own benefit.

    ONEPATH FAT CAT FUND OPTIONS
    OnePath – OptiMix Balanced 
    OnePath – Managed Growth 
    OnePath – Active Growth
    OnePath – OptiMix Growth Trust
    OnePath – OptiMix High Growth
    OnePath – OptiMix Moderate
    OnePath – Tax Effective Income
    OnePath – OptiMix Conservative
    OnePath – Conservative
    OnePath – Balanced

    Second last place: AMP

    AMP came in 2nd place, with 6 Fat Cat Funds. AMP’s share price has fallen by almost 80% since we published the first Fat Cat Funds Report in 2013, having been through five different CEOs, and billions have been withdrawn from underperforming AMP products. While they have improved from last year’s Gold Winner, their complex and legacy suite of products (which they are looking to rationalise) has led to their demise of yet another year in the Fat Cat list.

    Watch our AMP Fat Cat Fund video produced in partnership with The Chaser back in 2016

    AMP FAT CAT FUND OPTIONS
    AMP – FS – AMP Capital Multi-Asset
    AMP – FLS – Future Directions Conservative
    AMP – FLS – Professional Conservative
    AMP – FS – Schroder Real Return
    AMP – FLS – AMP Conservative
    AMP – FS – Super Easy Conservative
    AMP – FS – AMP Capital Multi-Asset
    FS and FLS refers to AMP’s Flexible Super and Flexible Lifetime Super product respectively

    Third last place: MLC, Zurich and Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS)

    The Bronze award for third last-place is shared amongst the larger wealth managers in MLC and Zurich due their complex product suite, high fees and poor performing investment options. MLC is in a similar position to OnePath, being acquired by a Fit Cat in IOOF. Interestingly, EISS also received the Bronze Fat Cat award as the public superannuation fund for three investment options that underperformed.

    MLC FAT CAT FUND OPTIONS
    MLC – Inflation Plus – Assertive Portfolio
    MLC – Inflation Plus – Conservative Portfolio
    MLC – Inflation Plus – Moderate Portfolio
    ZURICH FAT CAT FUND OPTIONS
    Zurich – Managed Growth
    Zurich – Balanced
    Zurich – Capital Stable
    Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS) FAT CAT FUND OPTIONS
    Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS) – Balanced (MySuper)
    Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS) – Conservative
    Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS) – Conservative Balanced

    Want to compare your super even further? Read the full 2021 Fat Cats Fund Report here. 

    Comparison of different super fund categories

    Super funds that were analysed by Stockspot go by many names: balanced, diversified, moderately conservative, moderate and capital stable.

    Investors need to be careful to understand the asset mix of their fund, not rely on how it has been named.

    Find out more about how to choose the right super fund.

    Best and worst performing aggressive growth super funds

    Aggressive growth super funds are funds with at least 80% in growth assets like shares and property and generally targeted at investors with a very long investment horizon given that they can be very volatile over the short term.

    The top performing aggressive growth super funds had very little in defensive assets such as bonds and cash. This helped them achieve returns of 12-15% p.a. over five years, as growth assets have enjoyed strong returns in recent years despite the COVID-19 fall.

    It should be noted that the equivalent Vanguard index fund still beat 86% of high growth funds over the past five years.

    OnePath featured heavily in the Fat Cat Fund list with five of the worst 10 performing funds. Meanwhile industry funds (e.g. UniSuper) took out most of the top 10 performing aggressive super funds.

     TOP 10 AGGRESSIVE GROWTH FUNDS5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    1.MLC – Horizon 7 Accelerated Growth Portfolio14.9%
    2.UniSuper – High Growth13.5%
    3.UniSuper – Sustainable High Growth13.2%
    4.Equipsuper – Growth Plus12.7%
    5.Fiducian Super – Ultra Growth Fund12.5%
    6.Hostplus – Shares Plus12.3%
    7.CBUS – High Growth12.1%
    8.NGS Super – Share Plus11.9%
    9.Aware Super – High Growth11.8%
    10.Plum Super – Pre-mixed Aggressive11.7%
     BOTTOM 10 AGGRESSIVE GROWTH FUNDS5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    1.OnePath – OptiMix Balanced5.3%
    2.OnePath – Managed Growth5.6%
    3.OnePath – Active Growth5.7%
    4.MLC – Inflation Plus – Assertive Portfolio6.3%
    5.Colonial First State (CFS) Rollover & Superannuation – Future Leaders6.4%
    6.OnePath – OptiMix Growth6.5%
    7.Zurich – Managed Growth6.6%
    8.Commonwealth Bank Group Super – Balanced (MySuper)7.0%
    9.Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS) – Balanced (MySuper)7.4%
    10.OnePath – OptiMix High Growth7.6%

    Aggressive growth super funds: average fee & returns 

    The bottom funds in this category typically had more cash and bonds, poor outperforming active managers, and higher fees. The average fee in this category was 2.3% which dragged performance down to 5.3-7.6% p.a.

    Here the correlation between fees and returns can be clearly seen.

    AVERAGE FEE (P.A.)AVERAGE 5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    Top 101.2%12.7%
    Bottom 102.3%6.5%

    Best and worst performing growth super funds

    Growth super funds have 60-80% in growth assets like shares and property and, like aggressive growth funds, are generally targeted at younger investors with a long investment horizon given that they can be quite volatile over the short term.

    Industry funds such as HESTA, UniSuper, Aware Super and Australian Super were in the top 10 growth super funds. 

    The top performing funds in this group had a relatively small (23.5%) allocation to bonds and cash. This allowed them to return 9.4-11.8% p.a. over five years, with the higher allocation to growth investments helping them to enjoy a strong few years of returns. 

    It should be noted that a simple index fund still beat 90% of all growth funds over the past five years.

    Top 10 Growth Super Funds5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    1.HESTA – Sustainable Growth11.8%
    2.Australian Super – Balanced10.4%
    3.UniSuper – Sustainable Balanced10.2%
    4.Fiducian – Balanced 9.9%
    5.Aware Super – Growth9.8%
    6.IOOF – MultiMix Balanced Growth9.7%
    7.UniSuper – Balanced9.6%
    8.Lutheran Super – Balanced Growth (MySuper)9.5%
    9.Victorian Superannuation – Growth (MySuper)9.5%
    10.Qantas Super – Growth9.4%
    BOTTOM 10 GROWTH SUPER FUNDS 5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    1.AMP – FS – AMP Capital Multi-Asset3.6%
    2.OnePath – OptiMix Moderate 3.9%
    3.OnePath – OnePath Tax Effective Income 4.0%
    4.Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS) – Conservative4.2%
    5.Zurich – Balanced4.5%
    6.AON – smartMonday MySuper – Age 655.6%
    7.Perpetual WealthFocus – Perpetual Diversified Growth5.7%
    8.MyLifeMyMoney – RetirePlus5.8%
    9.Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme (EISS) – Conservative Balanced5.8%
    10.ARA Retirement Fund – Growth5.9%


    Growth super funds: average fee & returns

    Retail super funds such as AMP, OnePath and Zurich performed the worst out of growth super funds. The bottom funds in this group typically had a higher (33%) allocation to cash and bonds and high fees of 1.8% on average. This pulled down their performance to 3.6-5.9% p.a.

    AVERAGE FEE (P.A.)AVERAGE 5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    Top 10 growth super funds 1.1%10.0%
    Bottom 10 growth super funds 1.8%4.9%

    Download the Fat Cat Funds Report to dive deeper into the best and worst performing super funds in Australia

    Best and worst performing balanced super funds

    Balanced super funds are funds with 40-60% in growth assets like shares and property and generally targeted at investors in their forties and fifties with a medium to long investment horizon.

    The top performers in this group had a 43% allocation to fixed income and cash. This helped them achieve returns of 6.4-8% p.a. over five years.

    However, a simple Vanguard index fund beat an extraordinary 95% of balanced funds over the past five years.

    TOP 10 BALANCED SUPER FUNDS 5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    1.Australian Super – Conservative Balanced8.0%
    2.AMG Super – Balanced7.6%
    3.Colonial First State – FirstChoice Multi-Index Moderate7.3%
    4.Qantas Super – Balanced7.2%
    5.Qantas Super – Glidepath: Destination7.2%
    6.QSuper – Lifetime Focus 26.8%
    7.Local Government Super – Balanced6.7%
    8.LGIAsuper – Balanced6.5%
    9.Holden Employees Super – Cautious6.5%
    10.legalsuper – Conservative balanced6.4%
    BOTTOM 10 BALANCED SUPER FUNDS 5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    1.Zurich – Capital Stable 2.5%
    2.OnePath – OptiMix Conservative 2.6%
    3.OnePath – Conservative 2.7%
    4.MLC – Inflation Plus – Conservative Portfolio2.9%
    5.Plum Super – Pre-mixed Conservative3.9%
    6.AON – smartMonday MySuper – Age 75 and above3.9%
    7.MLC – MLC Inflation Plus – Moderate Portfolio4.0%
    8.OnePath – Balanced 4.1%
    9.Club Plus – Conservative Balanced4.1%
    10.Perpetual WealthFocus – Perpetual Conservative Growth4.2%

    Balanced super funds: average fee & returns 

    Funds like Onepath and MLC performed the worst out of balanced super funds. The bottom funds in this group typically had a 41% allocation to defensive assets like bonds and cash. This combined with their high fees pulled down their performance to 2.5-4.2% p.a.

    AVERAGE FEE (P.A.)AVERAGE 5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    Top 10 balanced super funds 0.9%7.0%
    Bottom 10 balanced super funds 1.8%3.5%

    Best and worst performing moderate super funds

    Moderate super funds are funds with 20-40% in growth assets like shares and property and generally targeted at older investors with a short to medium investment horizon given that they are relatively stable over the short term.

    Industry and public sector funds made up nearly half of the Top 10 Fit Cat Funds.

    The top performing funds in this group had a 64% allocation to bonds and cash. This helped them achieve returns of 4.8-6% p.a. over five years. 

    The bottom performing funds in this group typically had a slightly higher allocation to cash and bonds as well as higher fees. This reduced their performance to 3-4% p.a, mainly for the retail funds such as AMP, and corporate plans for the major big banks like ANZ and Commonwealth Bank. Surprisingly one of our 2020 Fit Cats, QSuper had a fund in the Fat Cat list for the moderate category.

    TOP 10 MODERATE SUPER FUNDS (FAT CAT FUNDS)5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    1.AustralianSuper – Stable6.0%
    2.Fiducian Super – Capital Stable Fund5.5%
    3.NESS Super – Stable5.5%
    4.Qantas Super – Conservative5.4%
    5.AMG Super – Capital Stable5.4%
    6.ANZ Staff Super – Cautious5.3%
    7.Media Super – Stable5.2%
    8.Holden Employees Super – Conservative4.9%
    9.Guild Retirement Fund – Conservative4.8%
    10.IOOF – MultiMix Capital Stable4.8%
    BOTTOM 10 BALANCED SUPER FUNDS (FAT CAT FUNDS)5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    1.The ARA Retirement Fund – Defensive3.2%
    2.AMP – FLS – Future Directions Conservative3.2%
    3.AMP – FLS – Professional Conservative3.3%
    4.AMP – FS- Schroder Real Return3.3%
    5.QSuper – Lifetime Sustain 23.4%
    6.AMP – FLS – AMP Conservative3.5%
    7.Commonwealth Bank Group Super – Conservative3.9%
    8.AMP – FS – Super Easy Conservative3.9%
    9.Asgard – MySuper – life stage 1940’s3.9%
    10.ANZ Australian Staff Super – Smart Choice Conservative4.0%

    Moderate super funds: fees and performance

    Due to the lower returns from moderate super funds, older Australians and pensioners in lower risk super strategies need to be even more sensitive to fees.

    Compare the fees of the best performing moderate super funds with the worst performing:

    AVERAGE FEE (P.A.)AVERAGE 5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)
    Top 100.9%5.3%
    Bottom 101.2%3.5%

    Industry vs retail super fund performance

    Industry funds (and public sector funds) continue to do better than retail funds. The reason for this is due to:

    • Lower fees – industry funds have almost 40% lower fees than the average retail fund. Not having a profit motive means they are not profit driven, but that doesn’t mean that they are all “low cost”. 
    • Asset allocation – industry funds tend to have a higher allocation to unlisted assets such as property, infrastructure and private equity which have enjoyed strong recent returns.

    Large retail funds from AMP and OnePath dominated the Fat Cat Funds with the majority of bottom 10 funds being a retail fund. The common theme is these funds charge higher than average fees.

    The bottom performing funds in this group typically also had a larger allocation to cash and bonds and higher fees.

    Read more about comparing industry super funds

    Superannuation Comparison: Our Analysis 

    Many superannuation funds don’t index 

    Both Stockspot and the Vanguard Index Fund options have beaten the average Industry fund and approximately 90% of funds in total after fees and taxes. This is largely due to the compounding effect of lower fees.

    Additionally, superannuation managers can easily access low cost index funds, yet many choose not to. We believe this is because there are still huge conflicts of interest in the industry.


    Source: Stockspot, Vanguard diversified index fund performance after all fees and taxes based on an accumulation super account

    Super funds would rather pay themselves – their big teams of fund managers, analysts and asset consultants – despite the evidence that they do not add any value to super fund investment returns.

    Bigger super funds don’t perform better 

    Super funds members don’t always enjoy benefits by joining larger funds. In many cases there are added costs as funds grow which lead to higher per-member fees. This is because of the cost of legacy administration systems and active investing.

    There are more large funds who are Fat Cat Funds and they are usually between $20 billion and $50 billion in size. The best performing funds tend to either be between $5 and $20 billion or over $50 billion in size.

    We expect more consolidation and merging in the industry, having already seen the likes of Qsuper and Sunsuper, Hostplus and Statewide, in addition to Aware Super’s recent acquisition of First State Super, VicSuper and WA Super, to become one of the biggest superannuation funds in Australia. Find out how to choose the right super fund here.

    Compare your superannuation fund to investing with Stockspot

    The table below compares average super fund performance across growth, balanced and moderate strategies.

    The more conservative the portfolio, the harder it is to beat an index fund portfolio.

    AVERAGE SUPER FUND 5 YEAR RETURN (P.A.)STOCKSPOT 5 YEAR RETURN AFTER FEES AND TAXES (P.A)STOCKSPOT OVERALL PERFORMANCE
    Growth7.7%11.5% (Topaz)
    10.1% (Emerald)
    Top 1%
    Balanced5.4%8.9% (Turquoise)
    8.2% (Sapphire)
    Stockspot’s portfolios beat all balanced superannuation funds
    Moderate4.4%7.2% (Amethyst)Stockspot’s portfolios beat all moderate superannuation funds 
    Source: Stockspot, Vanguard diversified index fund performance after all fees and taxes based on an accumulation super account

    If you’re not happy with your superannuation, you have a few options:

    • You can switch your super fund because there are some super funds who offer indexed super options with low fees and consistent performance.
    • If you’re ready to invest outside of your superannuation, low cost indexing is another way for Australians to get consistent returns.
    If you want to compare your super, see our annual superannuation comparison, the Fat Cat Funds Report.

Investment Manager

Marc has previously worked for Morgan Stanley, AMP and KPMG. He holds a Bachelor of Business (Finance/Accounting) from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and has completed his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1.

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