Coronavirus COVID-19 and
Last updated 15 February, 2021
When the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) occurred in early 2020 there was initial government action, significant press coverage and investment market volatility. Along with health concerns, many people were worried about the potential economic impact – including the effect on their super investments.
As always, our message throughout remained that superannuation is a long-term investment. History has shown that periods of negative returns and volatility – while stressful – are entirely expected and part of the normal journey for the growth of long-term superannuation investments.
Share markets rebounded strongly since their lows in late-March 2020, driven by expectations that economic activity would pick up amid the loosening of coronavirus containment measures and ongoing fiscal and monetary policy support globally.
Throughout the year we provided regular updates to our members on the government mandated financial measures, the support available from our team, and information on things like scam warnings and sources of additional financial assistance.
In 2021, the Russell Investments team continue to monitor the situation closely and are always on hand to help our members navigate any further periods of volatility, or to get their super savings back on track.
Temporary Government changes to super
In March 2020, the Federal Government announced a range of financial assistance measures to support Australians impacted by COVID-19. This included a number of temporary changes to superannuation legislation relating to early release of super savings, and a reduction in the minimum drawdown rate for retirees.
Temporary reduction in minimum drawdown rates for retirees
For Pension accounts, the Government reduced the amount required to be drawn down by 50 per cent for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years. This was not an automatic process though, and current Pension payments for the 2020-21 financial year will remain in place unless you decide to take action and advise us.
Temporary early release of superannuation
Eligible members were able to access up to $10,000 of their super savings in the 2019-20 financial year, and a further $10,000 for the 2020-21 financial year. Applications needed to be made before 31 December 2020, and the early release of super program is now closed.
Getting your super savings back on track
If you are one of our members who has been in the position where you have needed to apply for early access to your super, regardless of the amount accessed, we’re here to help you get your super savings back on track when the time is right, to give you the best chance to live the life you want in retirement.
Once you start working again and your finances are otherwise returning to ‘normal’, you could consider a few of these tips to help boost your super savings:
- Making additional contributions to your super on top of the Super Guarantee (SG) amount paid by your employer.
- Combining any multiple super accounts you may have into a single account. This can help you save on multiple fees and insurance costs.
- Reviewing your investment options to make sure you’re in the option/s that could provide the best possible returns based on your risk appetite.
- Get some financial advice – we have a number of advice options available depending on your needs and can provide you with access to qualified experts over the phone.
There were a number of reports of coronavirus scams in Australia, including phishing emails, SMS messages and phone calls supposedly from government agencies, super funds and other trusted organisations. To confirm, we will never call to request for you to make a payment or ask you to share personal or financial information via SMS.
If you receive any calls or messages of this nature, hang up and/or call the company back using a publicly available number. If you have reason to suspect someone is trying to access your super savings or defraud you in any way, report it to the ATO on 13 10 20, or the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) on 1300 300 630.
There is more useful information on the governments StaySmartOnline website, or their Moneysmart website.