Australians are considered the world's richest superannuation holders, a report indicates. It says this is because of a very strong domestic currency and the government permitting citizens to drop as much as $1 million tax-free into their retirement savings. Superannuation is a pension scheme in Australia. It has a compulsory element whereby employers are required by law to pay a proportion of an employee's salaries and wages (currently nine percent) into a superannuation fund, which can be accessed when the employee retires After over a decade of compulsory contributions, Australian workers have close to a trillion dollars in superannuation assets with more money invested in managed funds per capita than any other economy. Compulsory superannuation in combination with buoyant economic growth has turned Australia into a 'shareholder society' where most workers are now indirect investors in the stock market. Consequently, a lively personal investment marketplace has developed, and many Australians take an interest in investment topics. According to the AFG Global Fund Management Index, our Aussie friends had an average of $63,794 invested in managed funds at the end of the last financial year. My wife’s cousin read this in the local Sydney paper. In fact, local super funds, on average, outperformed their peers in a top-10 list that included the United States, Canada, and France. To add to this, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2007, the amount handled by Australian managed funds grew by 32.4 percent. In comparison to our world, the value of American managed funds climbed by only 8.5 percent to $43,458 while those in Britain rose by 23.2 percent to $17,515. Ross Nayler, who is a principal with AFG Financial Planning, says that clearly the stronger Australian dollar, now trading at around 90 U.S. cents, plus specific laws allowing people to put up to $1 million tax free into their super savings helped make Australia the world leader. "One of the key messages is we've been at the top of the table for quite some time and we're getting further ahead.” In fact, for the period of five years to the second quarter of 2007, Australian managed funds posted a per capita growth rate of 97.7 percent. But now comes the clinker. Another survey, the AMP Superannuation Adequacy Index Report, for January to June of last year, found that 30 percent of Australian workers under the age of 40 would not have enough savings to retire comfortably. Moreover, it found that 3.4 million Australians across all working-age groups were falling behind in preparing for their twilight years. Nayler notes that minimum contribution levels are needed. Macquarie Research Economics expects then that Australian superannuation funds will post less spectacular returns in 2008. It points out that after recording huge gains in the past couple of years on the back of double-digit returns, growth in superannuation funds under management is set to be more subdued this year. Of course, I might add, as my cousin stresses, the absence of the $1 million contribution program is expected to slow down super growth rates in 2008. It may be their lead in superannuation will be dwindling.
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