Four-step guide to an investment plan that's perfect for you

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We all have different investment needs. This step-by-step guide, designed by the experts at Mine Wealth + Wellbeing, helps you make the right investment choice by considering your investment goal, how much investment risk you’re comfortable with and other important considerations.

1. Understand the five main asset classes

The five main asset classes are Australian shares, international shares, property, bonds and cash. They can be grouped into two categories:

  • Growth assets: Australian shares, international shares and property generally produce higher returns over the long term but are more likely to fluctuate in the short term.
  • Defensive assets: Bonds and cash usually provide a lower return over the long term but are less likely to fluctuate in the short term.

2. Decide what you want from your investments

Before investing, you need to set a goal and work out what you want from your investments by asking the following questions. Remember, the best investment for you depends on your personal circumstances.

Q1: How much super do I need?

This largely depends on two things:

  • The lifestyle you want in retirement. According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s Retirement Standard, single people need $430,000 in retirement savings to have a ‘comfortable’ and couples need $500,000.
  • How long you’ll be retired. With Australian men on average living to age 79 and women to age 84#, your retirement income needs to last around 18 years or more if you plan to retire at age 65.

Making extra super contributions is one way to help your super grow. Taking on more risk by investing in growth assets is another.

  • If you don’t think you’ll achieve the goal you’ve set, you may consider investing more in growth assets. You might need to speak with your financial adviser from Mine Wealth + Wellbeing Financial Advice* before making this decision.
  • If you’re set to achieve your goal with change to spare, you may choose to invest more of your money in defensive assets to protect against market fluctuations and potential investment losses.

Q2: How much risk am I comfortable with?

When discussing investment risk, we often think about the chance of losing money. However, risk can also mean not having enough super when you retire. For instance, investing in shares is risky because you’re more likely to experience negative returns in the short term, but over the long term, shares have historically provided the highest returns^. 

On the other hand, while investing in cash isn’t seen as risky, because cash provides historically lower returns than growth assets, there’s a risk that you won’t meet your retirement goal.

The general rule is that as the potential for a high return increases, the risk of loss also becomes greater. This is known as the ‘risk/return relationship’. When choosing where to invest your super you need to strike a balance between the risk you’re comfortable with and the rate of return you need to achieve your retirement goal.

There are two ways to reduce risk:

  • Diversification: Diversify your investment by spreading it across a mix of asset classes. This helps manage risk, as a fall in the value of one asset class may be offset by gains in another.
  • Invest for the appropriate time frame: As we’ve already mentioned, the risk of investing in growth assets is reduced the longer you stay invested. While there are fewer ups and downs from defensive assets, they’ve produced lower returns over the long term^.

Q3: How much time do I have?

As they say, time is money! The longer you have to save and invest, the easier it is to reach your retirement goal. That’s because your money has more time to work for you. When working out how much time you have, don’t forget that you’re likely to continue investing during retirement. This means you may have many years to invest your money, even if you’re retired.

Investment time frames are grouped into three categories:

  • Short term: One to three years. If you need your money in the not too distant future, you’re likely to invest more in defensive assets, like cash and bonds, to preserve your capital.
  • Medium term: Three to five years. If you still have a little time up your sleeve, you’re likely to invest a little money in growth assets, like property and shares, to boost returns.
  • Long term: Five years or longer. If you have more than five years until you need your money, you have an opportunity to ride out the short-term ups and downs of growth assets, like property and shares.

3. Choose your investment options

Now that you:

 have set your retirement goal
 are familiar with the difference between growth and defensive assets
 understand how much investment risk you’re willing to take, and
 know how long you have to invest... may be ready to choose where to invest your super.

4. Monitor your super, but avoid panic!

Super is a long-term investment and in some years your investment may deliver negative returns. This may not be the time to abandon your carefully considered investment choice without speaking to a financial adviser, for example, Mine Wealth + Wellbeing Financial Advice, as history shows that sooner or later, investment markets do recover^.

# Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
^ Past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance. 

More information

If you have any questions or need help with making contributions, call us on 13 MINE (13 64 63), Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (AEST or AEDT when in operation) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Not a Mine Wealth + Wellbeing member? You’re welcome to join and enjoy access to this advice service to get on track and start making confident financial choices.

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If you have a superannuation question and think the answer might benefit other Mining Family Matters readers too, please ask away!

This is general information only and does not take into account your financial situations, needs or objectives. Before acting, you should consider whether the information is appropriate for you and read our Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). If there’s any inconsistency between this document and the PDS or Trust Deed the terms of the PDS or Trust Deed prevail. This information is based on our understanding of current Australian laws and assumes they will remain unchanged.

Issued by AUSCOAL Superannuation Pty Ltd ABN 70 003 566 989 AFSL 246 864 Trustee for Mine Wealth and Wellbeing Superannuation Fund ABN 16 457 520 308. Mine Wealth + Wellbeing Financial Advice is a trading name Mine Wealth and Wellbeing Services Pty Ltd ABN 49 051 315 014 a Corporate Authorised Representative of Adviser Network Pty Ltd ABN 25 056 310 699 AFSL 232729.