By: Ben McEachen
Superannuation is a dull word that means much to all of us.
To help us understand exactly what super is for, where it is going and what the Bible has to do with it, I spoke to Warren Bird.
Warren has more than 40 years’ experience in investments and financial markets.
From Australia’s Treasury (Yes, THE Treasury) to Colonial First State and being executive director of Uniting Financial Services, Warren is now on the board of the WA Government Employees Superannuation Fund (GESB).
Here are three key things you need to know about super, according to Warren.
The Purpose of Your Super
Compulsory superannuation for all employees is a relatively recent development in Australia.
The Superannuation Guarantee (SG) officially started in 1992 under Paul Keating’s Labor Government.
The mandatory super contribution from employers started at three per cent and has reached 10.5 per cent.
Before SG, Warren Bird said that only professionals such as public servants, doctors or lawyers had significant superannuation input.
A mandated level of super across the board for employees was to help head off the foreseeable problem of enormous future strain on pension payments, as Australia’s population aged.
Australian workers had “to put more away now and save for their own retirement, so that pressure won’t be there” upon government coffers – and future taxpayers.
“If the [Federal] Budget is under pressure, it is people who are working at the time and pay taxes who experience it.”
A second reason Warren mentioned for the introduction of SG was a “social equality aspect”.
“It [wasn’t] designed to make everyone suddenly rich but it does mean everybody has what only a privileged few used to have.”
The Future of Super
Warren recently attended Australia’s premier Conference of Major Superannuation Funds. This important gathering didn’t spend a lot of time delving into the biggest superannuation headline of 2023.
Rather than the Federal Government’s proposed changes to tax concessions on the largest super balances, the conference sounded an obvious but chilling warning.
“The biggest [issue] is cyber security,” Warren said.
“There were a couple of alarming presentations about the sophistication of cyber criminals around the world.
“Every company should be thinking that it’s not if, but when, they will get attacked by cyber criminals.”
The Ancient Ancestor of Super
One of Warren’s most unexpected revelations linked superannuation with one of the Old Testament’s prominent, colourful leaders.
Warren believes a healthy financial principle is the sort of “contentment” outlined in Philippians 4:11-13.
But when it comes to super, Warren advised us all to “think about Joseph in the book of Genesis”.
A loathed brother in a colourful coat sold as a slave, Joseph rises through the ranks of Egyptian society.
According to Warren, Joseph’s “great insight from God was saving”.
“Not so much saving for a rainy day but saving for a long drought.”
Joseph’s shrewd storing helped to save a nation – and his own family – from starvation.
Such preservation action also sowed a seed in a family tree that, eventually, grew into Jesus Christ.
“That’s a key story that tells me there is an important place for understanding that the future might not be so crash-hot,” Warren said.
“You need to use what you have today to even out those time periods.
“Good oversight of systems of saving that you can later draw on, played an important role in the history of God’s people.
“I’m always encouraged by that.”
Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.