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Generation Now: Aussies distracted by a quick fix at expense of their financial future


16 June 2014

Almost one in three Australians aged 18-65 would prefer to find $200 in cash than $2,000 in lost super

2014 Westpac Lost Super Report reveals:

  • Almost half (48%) of Australians aged 18-65 would do 'everything they could’ to find their mobile phone, however less than a third would do the same for $2,500 in lost super
  • Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) Australians aged 18-65 don’t think they have any lost super.

Many Australians would rather enjoy a smaller amount of money now than safeguard their financial nest-egg in retirement, with the 2014 Westpac Lost Super Report revealing almost one in three (31%) Australians would prefer to find $200 in cash than $2,000 in lost super.

The report also revealed widespread disengagement in super amongst Australians, with nearly 9 in 10 reporting they do not know if they have a stake in the nation’s staggering $18.2 billion lost and ATO-held super pool, which sits across six million accounts.

Almost half (48%) of Australians reported they would do ‘everything they could’ to find their mobile phone, however less than a third would do the same for $2,500 in lost super.

“Our research shows that there is a lack of engagement in lost super which is a great concern. If the average mobile phone costs around $600 and the average lost super account is more than $2,000, you can see that it makes sense to put as much effort into finding your lost super as you would a lost phone. Furthermore, the money you find today could grow in value until the day you retire, unlike a phone which you’ll most likely leave behind when the next model is released,” said Gai McGrath, Westpac General Manager of Retail Banking.

“Did you know that for someone in their twenties, $2,500 in super today could amount to more than $22,000 by the time they retire? When you put it in these terms, you start to realise how much of an impact this money can have on your financial future.

“At Westpac, we’re committed to reuniting Australians with their lost super, which is money they have worked hard for; money which can easily be found and can genuinely help in their retirement. With $18.2 billion in six million lost and ATO-held super accounts across the country, we have heard amazing stories of people finding tens of thousands of dollars.”

Typically, lost super results from when a person changes their job, address or name and forgets to provide updated details to their super fund.

“The current labour market sees people changing jobs much more often than 20 years ago, meaning an increase in the likelihood of Australians losing track of their super.

“However, the process of searching for lost super is quick and simple. All you need is your Tax File Number to check online using the ATO SuperSeeker service, or head into your nearest Westpac branch where the staff will help you perform a search free of charge,” said Ms McGrath.

Find out how much lost super is in your post code.


The statistics in this report are sourced from the 2014 Westpac Lost Super Report which was produced by Sweeney Research. Sweeney Research surveyed 1,030 people aged 18 to 65, between 6 and 10 May 2014, with an average survey length of 10 minutes. Results were weighted to ensure representation of the Australian population in accordance with census data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The total number and value of lost and ATO-held super accounts is from the ATO, as at 31 December 2013.

The projected super values provide an estimate of the return on invested super until retirement. The projections use a number of assumptions. The projections assume an annual rate of return of 5.5% after fees and tax on earnings has been applied. Within a superannuation fund, investment earnings are assumed to be subject to tax at 15%. It is assumed this level of return will be achieved until an individual reaches retirement age at 65, starting at various ages (i.e. 20 – 29). The assumed annual rate of return is based on a typical balanced fund assuming CPI + 3% after investment fees and taxes. This would give an expected return of 2.5% + 3% = 5.5%. The assumed inflation rate is 2.5% which is reasonable as it is within the RBA's target range for inflation of 2-3%. The investment return is reasonable because often the investment objective of a balanced fund is to return CPI + 3%. The projected values are not intended to be relied on to make a decision about a financial product and you should consider obtaining advice from a financial adviser before you make any financial decisions.

Read the report:

2014 Westpac Lost Super report (PDF 1mb) (PDF 1MB)