Confessions of a former superannuation sceptic

I HAVE to admit to having been somewhat of a superannuation sceptic in the past.

Throughout the first half of my working life, retirement had always seemed too far away to contemplate the idea of tucking money away into superannuation every week and, at times, seemed a bit of a waste of resources.

My misguided thought process had me thinking that by the time we got to access super funds, there must surely be a risk that the accessibility rules would have changed.

Would there not be a risk that by then we would not be able to take it out in a lump sum but rather, have to suffer some form of pension or annuity that we funded through our earnings during our working life? But I've changed my tune.

Currently, Australians have about $1.6 trillion sitting in our combined superannuation accounts.

By any measure, that is a lot of money.

And what is staggering is that the sizes of these superannuation savings are expected to swell to more than $7 trillion by the year 2033.

From a government's perspective, the impetus to channel earnings into superannuation is no doubt driven by the need to reduce the cost of welfare among an aging population and to force us to provide more for our retirements.

But if these figures are to be believed, there must surely be an enormous opportunity for a growing industry to provide jobs and career paths for a new generation of financial planners, bankers, investors and advisers.

Wealth of that order needs competent financial planning and management. And what other industry is there which can guarantee that it will grow by four or five times in a period of less than 20 years? Even though the increase in the rate of superannuation has been pushed back with the current budget pressures, this sacrifice that we, as the current working population, are making must surely benefit future generations who will not be asked to meet the cost of providing welfare to us in our later years.

And, with it, opportunities for our kids and probably theirs, too.

Travis Schultz, practice group leader

Schultz Toomey O'Brien Lawyers, part of the Slater & Gordon Group

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