How finding lost super can boost your retirement

Billions of dollars in unclaimed super benefits is currently sitting in limbo in super funds around the country or with the ATO. Could some of it be yours?

In the good old days, staying in one job for life was a common scenario. Now the new norm is to change jobs several times to advance a career. While this mobility has its advantages, it may also result in your super becoming fragmented over the years, as you leave one fund and join another.

While super becomes top of mind for many approaching retirement, it may have been well down the list of priorities if you were job hopping during your twenties and thirties. Consequently, you may be one of the thousands of Australians who have contributed to the billions currently sitting in unclaimed super.

Discover an unexpected bonus 
The thought of looking for old super accounts may sound as enticing as cleaning out that old storage cupboard that you haven’t touched for years but the rewards can be well worth it. It could easily add up to a very tidy sum and any additional money contributes to a more secure retirement. What’s more, finding your lost super is a lot less complicated than you think.

Want more motivation? Consider the fact that under new laws any lost super may end up filling the coffers of the tax office. Do you really want to give them any more of your money than you need to?

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Finding lost super is surprisingly easy and can have big rewards

Seek and you shall find 
If you have changed jobs and addresses over the years and not kept super funds advised of you movements, then chances are they won’t be coming to find you. The good news is that there is help available for you to find them.

The first port of call is the Australian Tax Office’s MyGov website. There is a good chance that any unclaimed funds can be located here as they keep details of all your super accounts held in your name. Even if you can’t recall whether you have unclaimed money or not, it is worth taking a look.

The ATO may also have inherited some of your super money if your super fund, your employer or the government couldn't find an account to deposit it to. They have a very handy service known as SuperSeeker which can let you search quickly and easily online. You can find it here. Alternately, you can contact them by phone on 13 28 65.

The next port of call is AUSfund. This is a parking service for unclaimed accounts that is used by many larger super funds. You can perform an online search with AUSfund here.

Ready to do a bit of deeper detective work? You can contact any of your previous employers to see if they can advise the name of the super fund they may have used for your super. You can then enquire directly with that fund.

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Doing a bit of research can help make sure you are not paying unnecessary fees 

Consolidating super funds can save you money
One of the other powerful reasons to track down lost super is that having fragmented funds with different super managers may be costing you thousands of dollars in unnecessary fees. When you take compound interest into account and the length of time your money may have been sitting in limbo, the fee losses can really add up. By consolidating smaller accounts into one place you can also eliminate fee duplication and have more of your money working for your benefit.

This principle applies equally to any of your super – not just lost super accounts. After all, it is your money, so why let it be frittered away in fees when it could be earning you a better retirement nest egg?

If it is all too hard, ask for help 
Of course not everyone has the time or inclination to search for their lost super, so if you feel that it is in the ‘too hard basket’ you can always enlist the help of a financial planner to do the legwork for you.

They have the experience to know where and how to look for lost funds and can handle any paperwork to get funds transferred. They can also help you to identify inefficiencies in fees or poorly structured investment strategies that could be hurting your retirement bottom line. A financial planner will also let you know if your super will be enough to meet your retirement lifestyle goals.

If you don’t have a financial planner already then tracking down your lost super can be a great catalyst to get the ball rolling.

Have you ever uncovered some happy surprises in lost super accounts? Share your story below.