But keeping track of your super can be tricky, particularly when you’re moving between employers, and some people end up with multiple accounts – one with their old employer and another with their current one, for example. The superannuation standard choice form is designed to help you choose how to manage your super when you move job, or start your first.
What is the superannuation standard choice form?
The superannuation standard choice form allows you to nominate the super fund that your employer will make contributions into on your behalf. Currently, the super guarantee requires your employer to contribute a minimum of 9.5% of your eligible income to your super. If you’re eligible, you should receive a superannuation standard choice form from your employer when you start a new job. You can also request one if you’re changing super funds and you want to inform your employer, or you can download one from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
After you’ve completed the form and returned it, your employer uses your preferences for making your super contributions.
Who fills out the superannuation standard choice form and why?
Both employers and their eligible employees fill out their required sections of the superannuation standard choice form.
The form is split into three parts, labelled A, B and C.
Section A is completed by the employee and it’s where you either nominate your chosen or existing super fund, or indicate that you’re opting for your employer’s default option, which should be listed by your employer in section B of the form.
According to the ATO, employers must offer employees the ability to nominate a fund of their choice but must also fill in the details of their default super fund (via section B) before giving the form to employees. A default super fund is the superannuation fund that your employer will make contributions to if you do not nominate a fund of your own.
Finally, section C is for your employer to sign off on the completed form. They must then retain it on their records for five years.
When should you receive a standard choice form?
Your employer must provide you with a standard choice form if you are a new employee, if they can no longer contribute to your previously nominated fund or if it is no longer a complying fund. They must also notify you if they have changed their default super fund.
As an employee, the form advises your employer of your choice of fund if you’re starting a new job, or you may request one if you’re changing super funds. If you ask for a standard choice form from your employer, they are required to provide you with one within 28 days of your request. If you are considering transferring your super to a new fund, before committing, consider comparing how the new fund fares against your existing one, not to mention the other options available in the market. Also, consider checking the impact that switching may have on benefits you are currently getting from your provider or insurance cover you may lose as a result.
Only eligible employees are able to receive super contributions and therefore nominate the super fund that contributions will be paid into. To check if you are eligible to receive super, you can use the ‘Am I entitled to super’ tool on the ATO’s website.
What information do you need to fill out a superannuation standard choice form?
- Everyone completing the form must include their name and there is an option to add your employee identification number (if applicable) as well as your tax file number (TFN)
- While including your TFN is optional on the form, there may be some benefits to providing it. For example, if you do not provide your TFN, your contributions may be taxed at a higher rate, the form explains
Nominating your super fund:
- For those nominating a fund of their choice, you must provide details including the name of the fund, its address, ABN and unique superannuation identifier (USI). You may be able to find these details by checking a recent super statement provided to you by your fund, or by contacting the fund directly. Along with the completed standard choice form, you must also provide your employer with a letter from your fund of choice stating that it is a complying fund and that they will accept contributions from your employee. These letters will typically be available on your super fund’s website, otherwise you can contact your fund directly.
- If you choose to use a self-managed super fund, you’ll need to provide details including the fund name, its address and account details. You must also provide your employer with a document confirming that the fund is an ATO regulated super fund, as well as confirmation that the fund will accept contributions from your employer. If you are the trustee or a director of the corporate trustee of the fund, you can declare this via the form and that you will accept contributions from your employer. If not, you must attach a letter from the trustee, or a director of the corporate trustee.
Finally, you must sign and date the form before returning it to your employer, who must then keep it for five years.
With this in mind, choosing and changing super funds with the standard choice form can be a reasonably simple process. If you are still having trouble choosing the right super fund for you, you can compare your options with Canstar.
What should you consider when choosing a super fund?
The standard choice form gives you three options when choosing your super fund. You can:
- Provide the details of an APRA fund or retirement savings account (RSA) of your choice. An APRA fund is one that is regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
- Nominate a self-managed super fund
- Choose the default super fund nominated by your employer
While some people choose to stick to the fund they have had previously or, if new to the workforce, choose the default super fund, you may want to think about which option is best for you in the long run.
By doing some research, you may be able to find options better suited to your specific situation.
When choosing a super fund or transferring to a new one, federal government service MoneySmart recommends considering factors such as:
- Fees: membership fees and administration costs may eat into your super balance over time
- Investment options: most super funds let you choose between a range of investment options, such as the balanced option or the growth option. These may vary between funds so consider your needs and comfort with risk
- Performance: consider funds that have performed well over longer periods of time. MoneySmart recommends comparing a fund’s investment performance over at least five years
- Insurance: Life insurance through your super is one type of cover available. Keep in mind the varying types and amount of cover available through different funds and the added fees that might go with it
- Services: Some funds offer financial advice and education tools to members. Consider calling the fund or browse their website to see what other services they may offer as well as any fees that may apply
If you wish to compare your options, Canstar rates and compares a range of super funds. This might help you find a fund that suits your current super balance and other circumstances.
According to the ATO, you should not seek financial advice from your employer unless they are licensed to provide it. You are able to choose a different super fund later if you are unhappy with your initial choice or decide to switch funds for another reason. As mentioned above, your employer must provide you with a standard choice form within 28 days of you requesting one, but they are only required to accept a new choice from you once every 12 months.
Header Image Source: Falcona (Shutterstock)