Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Business Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Business and Law

First Advisor

Paul Gerrans

Abstract

The Superannuation Guarantee legislation has made many Australian employees compulsory investors. The reality that many Australian employees are failing to save adequate retirement benefits highlights the importance of selecting an appropriate superannuation investment strategy. With a majority of members having their employer-sponsored contributions in Defined Contribution Funds, it is ultimately members who are responsible for making investment decisions. Given that Australian employees are faced with myriad investment options, it is opportune to examine how members are exercising investment choice. A key factor for a member to consider is whether their investment strategy should be influenced by their age. Using the member asset allocation data from four of Australia's larger superannuation funds (HESTA, STA, GESB, and UniSuper), this thesis provides an empirical investigation of a sample of members' investment strategy decisions and key demographics, notably age. This thesis also presents an overview of life-cycle funds, an emerging product in the superannuation industry. General comparisons between existing life-cycle funds in terms of asset allocations, cost structures, and investment strategy, allow for an understanding of the range of funds available. Several key findings emerge. There is a considerable amount of variation among the life-cycle products being offered in the United States and Australia. A comparison of the asset allocation weights between the Australian life-cycle products and the default investment options of Australian superannuation funds reveals that life-cycle products decrease individuals' exposure to growth assets very early in the life-cycle. Age has a significant relationship with the portfolio decisions, equity participation and equity allocation. When additional member characteristics are taken into account including gender, marital status, and risk profile, the relative importance of the age factor diminishes significantly.

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