choosing a super fund

Choosing a super fund is a big decision. Like a lot of things in life, the more you know about how super works, the more confidence you have to choose what works best for you.

Foreword by Debby Blakey

Debby is responsible for leading the industry fund dedicated to the health and community services sector. She leads an organisation passionate about making a real difference to the financial future of every member while supporting a healthier planet and society.




Your super is likely one of the biggest investments of your life. Deciding who you can trust to manage it matters.

I believe in the power of super to make your vision for the future a reality. To me, it’s more than a safety net for when you’re older — it’s a source of power: to make decisions and choices that will help you live the best life possible when you retire.

At HESTA, our goal is to help you see just how much your super matters. To believe it can build a better future for you, for our planet and for others. To bring you dignity and freedom after a lifetime of work. To know you can do simple things today that can really make an impact on tomorrow. 

We’ve put this guide together to help you decide who you can trust to create your future with you.

You’ll find information on what to look for in a fund, the different types of funds, investment options, and how to compare performance between funds.

I hope you'll feel more confident to make decisions that can help create the future you want.


Debby Blakey, HESTA CEO




what to look for in a super fund



Investment returns and beliefs

Competitive returns on one of the biggest investments of your life.

Main benefit:

Higher returns can mean more money for retirement.

Strong long-term returns are how superannuation balances grow. An investment approach guided by clear beliefs can help drive great outcomes. 

When comparing performance, it's the long-term returns that really count. Super is a long-term investment. Look for a strong track record of returns above their target over 10 years or more.


Compare returns




Fees and costs

The cost of fees and charges can add up, so make sure you know what you’re paying for.

Why they matter:

High administration fees can eat into your super.

Fees are a necessary part of super. They cover the cost of running the fund and managing your account, investments and insurance. Fees can differ significantly between funds — so it’s important to pay attention.

Having more than one super fund can mean more fees. Combining your super into one account can help you avoid paying too much.


Learn about fees





Insurance cover for death or disability.

Main benefit:

Insurance helps cover you if the unexpected happens.

Many super funds have included insurance to help cover you financially in case you're temporarily or permanently unable to work, and to support your family if something happens to you.

The amount and type of cover you get is often different between funds.

It’s worth comparing cover and deciding what might best meet your needs.


Learn about extras




industry vs retail vs self-managed super funds (SMSFs)


While there are a few specialised super funds for employees of government bodies and private companies, there are three common ones that you will likely come across when choosing a super fund: industry funds, retail funds, and self-managed super funds (SMSFs).

Each type of fund has different ownership and decision-making structures, different obligations to their stakeholders, different fee structures, and different approaches for their investments. Knowing the difference between the three major types of funds can help you decide which one suits you.

Industry super funds

An industry super fund is owned and run only to benefit members. The net return — the performance of your investments after taxes and fees are paid — is what ends up in your account.

Many industry funds are aligned with particular sectors — like healthcare, hospitality, or education — so they look for investments that aim to benefit people working in those sectors.

Retail super funds 

Retail funds are different from industry funds in that they’re owned by banks or other private financial institutions — not members. They pay dividends shareholders. 

When comparing retail super funds, it’s important to pay attention to the short-term and long-term costs of these fees, as well as where the fund invests your money.


Self-managed super funds

Managing how you invest your super is an appealing to many people — which is why some choose a self-managed super fund (SMSF).

In SMSFs, you make the decisions about where your money is invested, and you don’t have to pay someone else to manage your account. 

It sounds great on paper, but running an SMSF isn’t for everyone. You need strong financial, investment and legal knowledge to manage one — and you may even need to outsource some work to advisors (who come with their own fees). You can read more about the difference between major super funds and SMSFs to see if one is right for you.



see what an industry fund is like compared to the rest

Years of award-winning performance, combined with our dedication to the people in our community — and beyond. This is what sets us apart.


compare superannuation investment options

Just choosing a super fund that you like isn’t enough. You also need to compare the different investment options of each to find one that suits your appetite for risk and growth. Thankfully, most super funds offer options that align with the types shown below, so you can compare options between funds more easily.

From high-growth focused options, to more conservative options, and even those that focus on environmentally sustainable investments — there’s an investment option to suit your current needs and objectives that can help fund the retirement lifestyle you deserve. All investments carry some risk. So it's important to understand your risk appetite. Check out our risk profiler tool to get a better understanding of your appetite for risk.


Conservative options

Conservative investment options are generally about keeping your money safe, with a focus on earning a modest return. Most of your money is invested in ‘defensive’ assets like debt and cash, usually with some exposure to shares, property and infrastructure. 

Conservative options are generally expected to earn lower returns but can also be more stable than balanced options in the short term.


Balanced options

Balanced investment options aim to balance exposure to risk with a targeted return. They use diversification (investing in a mix of lower and higher risk assets) to aim for stronger medium to long-term performance. This strategy can help them weather the normal short-term ups and downs of investment markets.

To accept employer SG contributions a default super fund must be MySuper authorised. This aims to ensure members are invested in a simple, cost-effective balanced option if they don't make an investment choice when they join. At HESTA our MySuper option is called Balanced Growth, and it's where most of our members are invested. 

Higher risk assets could include shares, private equity, property and infrastructure, while lower-risk assets could include debt and cash investments.


Indexed balanced growth options

Indexed investment options focus on achieving investment returns at a rate that matches index returns — that is, the average growth rate of the market. Investments can be a mix of defensive or lower-risk assets with a focus on medium to long-term growth.


Sustainable options

These investment options have risen in popularity in recent years as communities become more aware of sustainability issues such as climate change and corporate responsibility. They usually prioritise assets that meet environmental, social and governance requirements, and screen out assets that don't meet them. This can mean they're invested in a mix of low and higher-risk assets. Sustainable options generally focus on medium to longer-term growth.


High growth options

High growth options focus on growing your super balance as fast as possible, often by investing more of your super in higher-risk growth assets. This can include assets like shares, property and private equity. 

These options aim to achieve strong long-term growth, and are likely to experience ups and downs in the short term.


Choose your own investment portfolio

Some super funds, including HESTA, also allow you to create your own asset investment mix. This doesn’t mean you have to choose each company or asset individually — it lets you choose what proportion of your super is invested into each asset class. 

For example, at HESTA, our Your Choice investment options are:

  1. Cash and Term Deposits
  2. Diversified Bonds
  3. Property and Infrastructure
  4. International Shares
  5. Australian Shares.


You can choose what percentage of your super is invested in each of these assets and tailor your mix for your own desired balance of risk and return.

For more information on each of these options (or any of the asset mixes above), check out our investment choices guide.




investment performance at HESTA


The graph below shows our super performance based on net return for the investment option selected and an initial investment of $1,000.


Investment choices

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† Previously named Core Pool. Commenced 1 August 1987 | * Previously named Conservative Pool. Commenced 1 July 1995 | ^ Commenced 1 October 2020 | § Previously named Eco Pool. Commenced 1 February 2000 | ‡ Previously named Shares Plus. Commenced 1 July 1995 | + Previously named Cash; changed to include Term Deposits on 1 Oct 2020. Performance history before 1 October 2020 based on Cash. Commenced 1 July 2001 | Ø Previously named Property; changed to include Infrastructure on 1 Oct 2020. Performance history before 1 October 2020 based on Property. Commenced 1 July 2001 | ± Previously named Global bonds. Commenced 1 July 2001 | # Commenced 1 July 2001

we're investing in the future. are you?

We believe responsible investing is the key to long-term value - and our future.



how does HESTA compare to other super funds?

HESTA is the industry super fund for people who make our world better: people in health and community services and those who, like them, want to see a stronger, fairer, healthier tomorrow.

We aren’t like most traditional super funds. We aim to make a meaningful difference to our members’ financial futures and the world they retire into. We invest in innovations that deliver healthy returns and make a positive impact for you, our community and the planet.

We’re proud to be a gutsy advocate for our members. We continue to use our influence to drive diversity, influence policy and demand fairer super. We believe everyone deserves the best possible retirement and we want to create lasting change for generations to come.

We have a long and proud history of delivering strong long-term returns. Over the last 15 years, we’ve consistently outperformed the average retail super fund — in fact, we were one of the first funds to receive SuperRatings' 15 year platinum performance rating.



Checking out the competition? See how they compare on these


Returns and fees

All those small savings add up over a lifetime. If you’re paying too much in fees and charges, you could be missing out on a lot in retirement. HESTA is committed to keeping our fees as low as possible to benefit you.

Care and protection

Most HESTA members receive standard income protection and death insurance cover when they become eligible. Plus, we offer fee-free insurance cover during parental leave.


Freedom and flexibility

As your life changes, so do your goals and priorities. The ability to change how and where your super is invested really matters. We give you easy-to-use online tools to let you choose where your money goes.


Help and empowerment

Looking after your super shouldn’t be hard. Look for easy access to your balance, investment mix, insurance options, and expert advice. With HESTA, you’ve got it all right here for you. 






see how much better off HESTA members are compared to the average retail fund

We’ve consistently outperformed some of the best performing super funds out there. Our lower fees and stronger investment returns have been benefiting our members for years.

we’re one of the best in super

But don't just take our word for it.

HESTA has earned some of the super industry's highest accolades. We’ve been recognised year after year by experts on all things finance and superannuation, including winning Best Balanced Super Product in Money magazine's Best of the Best 2021 awards for our Sustainable Growth investment option.^




SuperRatings awards

SuperRatings has awarded us a 15 year platinum performance rating - the highest possible. And, we're one of only four funds that can say that.




Money magazine awards

HESTA Sustainable Growth (formerly called Eco Pool) has won Best Diversified ESG Super Product in Money magazine's Best of the Best Awards 2022, recognising the power of investing in long-term, meaningful change.


Product Review awards awarded us the 2021 Best Superannuation Fund Award for our strong performance, outstanding service and transparency.



^ Product ratings are only one factor to be considered when making a decision.




frequently asked questions when comparing super funds


Your superannuation matters. It's your money, set aside to help you in retirement, so investing some time to learn about it is investing in your future - and the returns on knowledge are high.

People tend to have similar questions when it comes to their super, and you might have them too. To cut through the clutter, here are some answers about choosing or changing funds, managing your investments, and deciding what suits you best. 



There are a few things we believe are the most important to know when comparing super funds: their long-term investment performance and objectives; fees and costs associated with being a member; and insurance options.

Comparing each of these will help you determine what fund might be right for you, including investing in the things that matter most to you.

Super fees cover the costs of managing the fund, your account and your investments. There's really no getting around it, fees are a necessary and important part of super.

With an industry super fund, fees aren't charged to make a profit for shareholders - everything is done to benefit members. At HESTA, we pride ourselves on working in our members' best interests and keeping our fees as low as possible.

We understand a minor difference in fees can make a huge difference over the long term. For example, an increase of just 0.5% a year in fees would reduce the retirement balance of a typical worker (starting work today) by a projected 12% (or $100 000). That's enough to make a big difference to your retirement lifestyle.*

*HESTA fees and costs.

It's easy to find out what your current super fund is using ATO services through myGov. You can view details about all of your super accounts (including lost or unclaimed super) by logging into your myGov account, linking it to the ATO, and navigating to the Super section.

If you've never had a super account before, you'll need to choose a super fund. If you don't choose a super fund, your employer will create a 'MySuper' account for you with their default fund.

MySuper is a product approved by the government to be able to accept Superannuation Guarantee (compulsory) contributions from your employer. They're usually somewhere between balanced and growth-focused in investment strategy - so they aim for competitive returns over the long term.

It's worth taking the time to make sure a MySuper product is right for you. Like any super account, you should weigh up if the fees, investment returns, and insurance cover of a 'default' MySuper account suits your needs now and in the future. If you're not sure how you want to invest your super or what level of risk is right for you, check out our risk profiler tool to get a better understanding of your appetite for risk.

If you're invested in a simple super account option with competitive long-term returns, you can check out the HESTA MySuper Dashboard to see how it's performed over the long-term.

Super accounts will be 'stapled' to members from 1 November 2021. This means that if you change jobs and don't choose a super fund, you'll keep your current fund and your new employer will pay super contributions into your existing account. 

'Stapling' is intended to stop the creation of many super accounts for an individual when they change jobs and don't choose a super fund. If you already have a super fund (or multiple funds) your new employer will be required to find your fund through the ATO. You'll still be able to choose your own super fund by completing a choice of super fund form (pdf) and giving it to your employer.

You can think of your super like a savings account - the more that's in it, the more it can earn. Combining all your super into one happy place can help you avoid multiple fees from multiple funds and maximise the return on your investment.

If you're a HESTA member, you can log into your account and find other super you might have to combine it into your HESTA account. Keep in mind, you'll need to check with your other fund/s if there are any fees for transferring funds, or if you could lose any benefits like insurance. You can also combine your funds through your myGov account.



You can change your future in just a few minutes

Over 900,000 Australians already trust HESTA with their super. Join us today to see the difference for yourself.

If you have questions or prefer to join over the phone request a call back.