Should you choose a retail or industry super fund?

07 Dec 2021 4 min read

Choosing the right super fund is one of the most important decisions you can make if you want to maximise your retirement savings. Before deciding on a particular fund, you need to choose which type of super fund you want to join — retail or industry.

Keep reading to learn about the differences between industry and retail super funds so you can make the best choice for your financial future.

What are retail super funds?

Retail super funds are run by financial institutions, like banks or insurance companies. Retail super fund membership is open to everyone.

All super funds — whether retail or industry — are considered trusts, meaning they cannot directly make a profit. However, integral functions of a super fund, like administration and investment management, are often outsourced by retail funds to companies within their parent company, where profit-making is permitted. These profits are directed to the parent company’s shareholders.

What are industry super funds?

Industry super funds are run by industry groups or industry associations instead of for-profit financial institutions. Importantly, industry funds are ‘profit to member’, meaning all profits are directed to members like you, and not to shareholders.

In short, an industry super fund:

  • is run only to benefit members
  • is a fund with low fees
  • has never paid commissions to financial planners.1

You might be familiar with the Industry SuperFund symbol (next to our NGS Super logo). Funds that use this symbol are aligned with Industry Super Australia (ISA) and their objective to maximise the retirement savings of 5 million industry super members.1

Initially, most industry super funds were only open to workers in their sector. Today, the majority of industry super funds are available to all Australians.

For example, in 1988, NGS Super began as a super fund for teachers and education workers in non-government schools and employees in community organisations. We’ve since opened membership to all Australians, and while everyone can enjoy the benefits of our products and services, we still understand the unique circumstances and needs of those in education.

What’s the difference between retail and industry funds?

The key difference between the two types of superannuation funds is how profits are used.

A retail super fund is owned by a company that generates profits for its shareholders. Profits may also find their way to investors and the institution’s executives and board members.

On the other hand, an industry super fund returns profits to its members, for instance, through reduced fees or funding of additional services and benefits.

Industry super funds like NGS Super have a responsibility to their members and their retirement outcomes, unlike retail funds who have a responsibility to generate profit for their shareholders.

Learn more about the benefits of joining NGS Super.

What about self-managed super funds?

Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) allow individuals to set up and manage their super as a trustee. SMSFs offer flexibility arounds investments but usually have high ongoing costs and administrative and regulatory demands.

NGS Super offers a Self-Managed Direct Investment Option that allows members to make direct investments with no set-up fees and hassle-free administration.

What should I choose?

Whether you go with a retail or industry super fund depends on your circumstances and preferences. Industry super funds have historically outperformed their retail counterparts in returns generated for their members* and are generally a reliable option for most people.

When deciding between superannuation funds, consider the:

  • long-term investment performance of the fund*
  • investment options available
  • fees and costs
  • cost and conditions of cover provided by insurance policies
  • member services, like financial advice and seminars or webinars.

* Keep in mind that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.


Source: Industry Super Australia, Who we are, at

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