Our Investment Philosophy

Our investment purpose is to provide sustainable retirement outcomes to Australian public service and defence customers, and your families.

  We’re driven by our investment purpose

Our measure of success is to achieve the ASFA comfortable standard for all our customers in retirement, while minimising the uncertainty (risk) about what that future amount will be. 

we use the Association Of Superannuation Funds Of Australia's comfortable retirement standard as a benchmark.


We’re a profit-for-members fund. This means we only charge fees to cover the costs of operating the fund—we don’t make a profit to pay to shareholders.

 


We’re privileged to be a niche retirement benefit provider with a well-defined member base. This enables us to try to really understand our customers’ needs, rather than just deliver for the average Australian*.

*Based on data from employers


Because we’re focused solely on achieving the best outcomes for our customers, peer relative performance is a consequence of our investment strategy, not an objective.

 


We understand that one size doesn’t fit all, so we don’t follow the latest investment fads just because everyone else is doing it. Instead, we seek to continually refine and better tailor our investment strategy to reduce the risk of not achieving our customers’ retirement goals. We try to set goals that suit our customers’ specific needs and circumstances.

performance-graph

Ways we protect and grow your savings

Compared with other superannuation funds, we generally suffer fewer or smaller losses when markets are falling, (40% downside avoidance) but still capture a large proportion of the gains (87%) when markets are rising strongly. This graph shows the upside vs downside capture 10 years to 31 March 2020. It's important to note, past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Focusing on downside avoidance is important because of the asymmetric impact of losses compared to gains on longer term wealth creation. E.g. If markets fell by 20%, a portfolio of $100 will fall to $80 and it will take markets to rise by 25% to restore its original value of $100.  Further, the larger the losses, the greater the subsequent gains required to restore value (a 30% loss will require a 43% gain).

Men on a beach with a dog

Fit for purpose

Every aspect of the fund has been carefully designed with an aim to efficiently and effectively maximise the retirement outcomes of our customers. We measure our fitness or ability to recover from adverse events and not incur writedowns (permanent loss of capital), e.g. in the GFC, we had no CDOs in our portfolio; no adverse liquidity events in any of our hedge fund managers; no material increase in private equity bankruptcy rates.

Ways that we manage investment risks for customers include:  

 

 

Diversification across asset classes, individual assets, investment styles and managers

 

Focus on understanding the inherent risks of any particular type of investment 

 

Systematic compliance and fraud control programs 

Continuous monitoring of market performance, investment manager performance and relevant legislation.

A continuous program of research and analysis—including environmental, social and governance (ESG) analysis

We believe our customers face two main types of risks:

Desired level of outcomes

That is, savings not growing enough to afford a comfortable retirement due to conservative, insufficient or low-quality risk taking.  

Stability of outcomes

That is, savings reduced because assets lose value permanently or are sold at lower price due to aggressive, excess or low-quality risk taking.

We recognise there are two sides to uncertainty, the potential for losses on the downside, but also opportunity to grow wealth.

We aim to take an ‘optimal’ amount of investment risk on behalf of our customers, by investing in assets at the right price and quality, to grow super savings for adequate retirement income. We aim to maximise net real returns at the least amount of risk required—rather than chasing higher returns by taking on higher risks.

All risks (including non-financial risks) need to be understood and managed to try to ensure customers’ savings continue to be invested in high quality, sustainable assets, which can generate income in retirement over time.

We believe the key is not just identifying the risks, but doing something about them (e.g. measure then manage risks by pricing, mitigating, reducing or avoiding the risks).

We aim to convert the risk into an opportunity to add value to your retirement savings, or preserve the value of your savings by reducing potential losses.

Our risk management and governance

We were the first Australian superannuation fund to implement a detailed bottom up security level risk system in 2009 that is a fully integrated but flexible whole of portfolio approach.

Find out more

Share this article

Next I'd like to...

Make a claim with lifePLUS Protect

With CSC, the process of making a claim is simple. We guide you every step of the way.

Read more

Eligibility for lifePLUS Protect

If you’ve left the ADF and kept your ADF Super account, you may be eligible for lifePLUS Protect cover.

Find out more

We've got you covered with lifePLUS Protect

If the unexpected happens in your civilian life, and you become sick or injured, our flexible lifePLUS Protect insurance cover gives you peace of mind today and secures your tomorrow.

Find out more