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Half of Australians could be missing out on $18.8bn in unclaimed superannuation


28 June 2011

Westpac today released the findings of a nationwide survey, which indicates almost half (46.1 per cent) of Australians could be missing out on part of their superannuation. Surprisingly, the survey found that of these, 15.8 per cent of people questioned, knew they had unclaimed or ‘lost’ super but are not actively trying to recover it.

These findings come as Westpac unveils a replica of what $18.8 billion in lost super would look like, at Sydney’s Circular Quay. The imposing six metre cube, part of Westpac’s 'Great Australian Super Search' campaign, is designed to encourage Australians to discover whether one of the 5.8 million lost super accounts is theirs and if they are entitled to a share in an estimated $18.8 billion in lost super.

According to figures released by the Federal Government earlier this year, on average there is one lost super account for every two working Australians. 

Westpac Group Executive of Retail and Business Banking Rob Coombe said these figures highlight the sheer scale of Lost Super and the amount of Australians that have lost touch with their own super savings.

“It’s alarming to see that nearly half of Australians have lost super.  So many people are missing out on money that is rightfully theirs and that could make a significant difference to their lives once they retire.  That’s why we’ve launched an initiative to help our customers, and indeed all Australians, actively find their lost super and reclaim it,” said Mr Coombe.

“We’re urging our customers to call into their local Westpac branch where we will complete a lost super search for them and fill in the paperwork for them to reclaim it.  By ensuring their super is in one place and effectively managed through a product like BT Super for Life, customers can achieve visibility and control of one of their largest financial assets”.   

Federal Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation The Hon. Bill Shorten said that connecting Australians with their lost super was a priority for the Federal Government.

“We welcome this initiative by Westpac. It complements the Government’s policy to enable superfunds to use tax file numbers to identify members' accounts from 1 July 2011. These measures will help re-connect Australians with their lost super.” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Coombe said that Westpac is committed to encouraging Australians to acknowledge that super is a major financial asset and the first step is to ensure they do not have any lost super.

“While it’s quite easy to lose track of superannuation when you change names, jobs or move house, the process to reclaim it is simple and the resulting benefits are considerable. Our product BT Super for Life allows customers to see their super online with their banking – that’s one way to never lose sight of super again,” said Mr Coombe.

Across the country Westpac branches have already reported a multitude of examples of people uncovering their lost super.

  • One Westpac banker has found $260,000 in lost super in just one week for multiple customers, including finding her own lost super, of which she had been unaware. 
  • Westpac found $150,000 in superannuation for a customer in his late thirties
  • A Westpac Financial Planner conducted a lost super search for a retired man, who was living on the Age Pension and convinced he had no super, and uncovered $200,000 that will now support him in retirement.

Customers can enquire about BT Super for Life at any Westpac branch.

While the amounts of lost super uncovered have varied, as have the situations and ages of the recipients, the point is clear. The sooner people uncover any lost super they have, the sooner it can start working to contribute to a more comfortable retirement,” said Mr Coombe.

Tips to find your lost super

Visit your local Westpac branch with your Tax File Number and identification and ask for a Lost Super search.• Make a list of all the jobs you’ve had over the last ten years and find out where your super went for each one.

  • When finding lost super, get in touch with the super fund to update personal details and consider consolidating your accounts, which may reduce recurring or duplicate fees.

More about BT Super for Life

  • In a first for an Australian bank, BT Super for Life lets you view and manage your super online with your other Westpac bank accounts. 
  • BT Super for Life is 45% cheaper than a typical retail fund, with no fees for switching investment options, contributing to or withdrawing from your super.
  • BT Super for Life offers two investment alternatives - let BT manage the mix for you with a Lifestage Fund (based on your age) or you can specify the investment mix yourself 
  • If your super is in different funds, we will help you consolidate those funds with our convenient and quick online rollover service
  • No questions asked, pre-approved life insurance.  Premiums are paid directly from your BT Super for Life account so there is no change to your take-home pay