Know someone who needs to consolidate their super?

Research conducted by CHOICE reveals that more than 40% of Australians have a secondary, redundant superannuation account costing up to $3 billion per year.

We’d like to hear what you think about the complexity of the superannuation system, the additional fees and to help out where possible. Leave a comment below if this sounds like you, or someone you know.

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Many superfunds will carry out searches for additional/secondary superannuation accounts and then assist in rolling them into one account.

Whilst it is in their interests to do so (as the main account will have greater funds which they earn fees on), there is significant savings to the superannuation account holder
(namely, only paying for one set of fixed fees for management, insurance etc).

I would suggest as the first port of call to do a search onself using one of the lost super websites.

The Government Moneysmart website tells one how to do lost super searches. This is the ATO website with further details.

If one finds this a bit daunting, contact your primary superannuation manager and see if they can do the search for you, fee free.

One shouldn’t pay a fee for the search for lost super as it can be easily done oneself with a little time and effort.


I am already financially savvy and had rounded up all my super consolidating it into two industry accounts which I monitor and alter.

My husband and his first wife were “set & forget” people and consequently had multiple accounts. Hers all paid out when she died and he went to a financial adviser to ask what to do with it. My husband does not use a computer and asked for help from equally uninformed people before being referred to this Adviser. The advice he received there was poor. None of his “lost” super was retrieved, he paid a fee to put some of her super into a new AMP super account. The next visit he was advised he would be better off in an income account. They charged $7,000 to move it; in the first two years it reduced to about 55% of the original. The advisor had also moved most of his current industry based super into Cash, which saved him a bit during the GFC but was a very poor performer. This juxtaposition of high risk vs low risk seems odd from an adviser to a cautious elderly invester.

When I married him I located all his super and progressively consolidated it into his industry account. I did a search for him and found 6 super accounts, some had spent years being eroded by fees. As he was highly resistant to change and thinks companies will reward his loyalty, it has been a 10 year journey, that still isn’t finished. It’s compounded by my wanting him to properly understand what and why and get his approval, rather than just doing it. Both of us have cost us thousands.

He and his friends are a cohort of older Australians who “don’t know where to start” and so never sort it out. I have helped some of them, but they seem to think that companies, the Govt, whoever, will look after them and sort it all out without their intervention. No amount of education will connect with them, it is just all too complicated.


Thanks for the insight @zackarii and good on you for doing the hard work to help others get their finances in order. It’s such a shame to hear people’s hard work from over the years being eroded by unnecessary fees from multiple accounts and what sounds like mismanagement. That $7000 fee is the stuff of financial nightmares.

@phb - great tips!

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This may also be a step in the right direction if it eventuates.

Many multiple super accounts are created because employees have little regard/don’t understand how super works OR forced into seeting up a new super account because of the EBA they work under…e.g. a union body has negotiated an EBA where all new employees are required to set up a new super account run by the same union.

Super should be like a bank account (e.g.when one move to a new job they give their employee their bank details for direct payment of wages/salary into that account). Super should be the same where it is the individuals choice of the super account they wish to have (like a bank account) and they provide their employer with its details on commencement of employment for direct payment of voluntary and compulsory contributions into this account.

It isn’t rocket science and a very easy solution to the existing problem of multiple super accounts. As super accounts are required to have an TFN (tax file number), it shoukd also be very easy to consolidate existing multiple accounts into one…maybe automatically into the active one(s). This is something the government could legislate and carry out, notifying super holders before any such action is undertaken.


I spoke to my colleague @XavierOHalloran about this issue recently. Any step to reduce retirement savings being eroded from multiple fees would be welcome, as you’ve said it should be simple in regards to portability. Model 1 seemed to be an intelligent way to preserve competition and performance (considering the recommendation that you would only be able to select one default fund, even if you change jobs). Under Model 4 (Fee based auction), there is the risk that funds would compete on fees rather than performance, which could result in some poor outcomes.

I’m told one of the issues through the process was that funds and banks were the main parties to contribute submissions, whereas members of the funds views are also needed. CHOICE is intending to do more in this area, but in the meantime anyone interested can make a submission here.


The least savvy are the most vulnerable people who consequently are in the lower income brackets, therefore they have small amounts of super that are quickly eroded by fees.

With so many teenagers with super as part of their remuneration, they have no idea about super and the fees. It’s easy for their small balance to be reduced to zero by fees and unnecessary life insurance if their income is too low for ongoing contributions.

The recent announcement that you have 1 fund when you start work and that remains as your default account unless you opt out, was a good start. However, some industries such as the education sector, a large food retailer, etc, prevent choice of fund by the employee. This union rort needs to be addressed. At 21, if you’ve had three employers you shouldn’t be compelled to have 3 industry/union super funds.

Also, the trend of small businesses to pay the super contribution at the end of the financial year is a disadvantage to the employee. I’m not sure if it’s lawful, but it shouldn’t be. One of the roles of super payments was to be in lieu of salary. The employer is effectively delaying payment of salary.

Super should be a way to reduce future government spending on welfare. The government of the day seems to have little interest in protecting the future retirees and future governments.

I’ve helped my young adult kids consolidate their accounts where it is allowed by their funds. Each time it’s been difficult. I’m sure if most young people tried to do it, they’d quickly give up. The end result is their account would fall to zero.


I know this is old but it’s still obviously relevant.
I have a number of super funds as I worked for a number of different companies in the 90s (remember back then you couldn’t choose who your super went to). About 10 years ago my wife and I went to a “Financial Advisor” to consolidate. He either couldn’t or didn’t so we still have multiple super funds. Recently I have been trying to get these sorted out as they seem to keep changing and the charges in some have swallowed up any interest. TAL sent me a letter stating as much so I thought I’d try consolidation again. With TAL I can’t even remember who my employer was at that time and all that’s left is about $13k… to move this to a fund of my choosing, there is an exit fee… about $4k.
So, in effect, I wasn’t allowed to choose where my money went but now that I can I will be penalised 30% of my holding. How is this not a crime?

Has others had success with this? I know you have zackarii :slight_smile:


It is not a crime although it is criminal. The contracts of the time put on huge fees to dissuade anyone from taking their money elsewhere. As contracts they are what they are. Government was happy with it until enough people got old enough and close enough to retirement to start noticing.

Government is happy to pass retrospective legislation for various things including to protect its members from (to be polite) curious activities they were or are about to be caught out having done, but for the rest of us they hang their hats on unfair contracts being, well, contracts. Our ‘protection’ from unfair contracts only started in 2011!


Definitely criminal… I shall ask them to produce the original contract with my signature agreeing to any of this, at least then they will have to work for their $3k “fee”


Depending how they are ripping into your balance, if it is mostly insurances you do not need and can cancel, do a clinical look at whether you would be ahead or not by consolidating.

This might also assist. Read all the T&C of your old super to see how you go.