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Case studies to accompany Business Finance by Peirson, Brown, Easton, Howard and Pinder. 1 BUS704 – Task 1 Case Study: UniSuper Ltd By Darren Henry, La Trobe University The focus on superannuation and encouraging individuals to save and invest for their future, and particularly their retirement years, has been intensifying in Australia in the past two decades. The Australian Government has been especially proactive in this regard, mandating minimum contributions to be made to complying superannuation or retirement funds by employers on behalf of their employees. This minimum level of employer contribution to superannuation was introduced at 3 per cent of employees’ salaries and has since increased to a minimum contribution of 9 per cent. Employees are also compelled to allocate a percentage of their income to superannuation investment. The impetus for introducing these superannuation policy initiatives was the need to remove the burden from the social security system for the provision of pension payments to support individuals during the retirement stage of their lives. Owing to these superannuation laws and an increasing realisation by individuals of the importance of saving for their future, there are currently billions of dollars of superannuation contributions flowing every year to superannuation funds and financial institutions, whose role it is to profitably invest these contributions to provide sufficient income to fund the non-working component of individuals’ lives. As such, superannuation and mutual funds are one of the largest investors in Australian financial markets, particularly in equity securities of companies listed on domestic and overseas share markets. One of the largest individual, industry-based superannuation funds is UniSuper Ltd, which services and manages superannuation for employees in the tertiary education sector in Australia, including universities, TAFE colleges and other higher education institutions. The other revolution in superannuation funds management and service provision in recent years has been a significant increase in the variety of superannuation fund products and investment and retirement plan options, with members now having much greater flexibility in deciding what types of funds and assets their superannuation contributions are invested in. In line with this increasing investment choice, UniSuper Ltd offers its members two forms of superannuation plans: • a Defined Benefit Plan • an Investment Choice Plan. As the name suggests, the Defined Benefit Plan is one where the benefit paid to employees at retirement is determined using a formula, which factors in determinants such as employees’ final average salary, age and the number of years that they have been employed. Under the Defined Benefit Plan, employees’ retirement benefit is calculated as: Case studies to accompany Business Finance by Peirson, Brown, Easton, Howard and Pinder. 2 Retirement benefit = benefit salary ? length of membership ? lump-sum factor ? average service fraction For tertiary education employees who elect to adopt the Defined Benefit Plan, their superannuation contributions are pooled and invested in a selection of assets determined by the UniSuper Ltd trustees. As their final benefit payout is determined solely by the above formula, the investment performance of their asset portfolio is effectively irrelevant and does not affect their final retirement payout: the investment risk is borne solely by UniSuper Ltd. This implies that employees do not benefit from gains earned by their asset portfolio (above the minimum requirement to meet their defined benefits) and it is the responsibility of the UniSuper Ltd trustees to be able to fully fund these defined benefits. The trustees of the Defined Benefit Plan do have the discretion to pay an additional accumulation benefit on an annual-adjusted basis, although this is not guaranteed and will form a small proportion of overall superannuation benefits under this plan. Those employees who choose the Investment Choice Plan retain an individual investment account comprising employer-sponsored and personal superannuation contributions and an annual distribution of gains earned on their invested contributions, less any administration and management charges. Under the Investment Choice Plan, employees can nominate the types of assets or portfolios that their superannuation contributions are invested in, choosing between the following four investment strategies: • Secure Fund: Australian fixed-interest securities and cash. • Stable Fund: Primarily fixed-interest and bond securities, with a small exposure to domestic and overseas shares and property. • Trustees’ Selection Fund: Balanced fund of domestic and overseas shares, property assets and infrastructure and private equity investments. • Shares Fund: Investment solely in domestic and overseas shares. These strategies are distinguishable by their risk and return characteristics, with the Secure Fund being the least risky and likely to provide the lowest average return and the Shares Fund carrying the highest risk but being expected to provide the highest overall average return. For employees who choose the Investment Choice Fund, their final retirement payout is dependent on the returns generated by their chosen investment strategy and they bear the associated investment risk. At the time of retirement, UniSuper Ltd provides a range of investment products for both Defined Benefit Plan and Investment Choice Plan subscribers to manage and distribute their retirement benefits. These include the following pension and other investment options: Case studies to accompany Business Finance by Peirson, Brown, Easton, Howard and Pinder. 3 • Indexed Pensions: provide a regular income that is indexed to inflation, is payable as long as you live and is transferred to a spouse or dependent upon your death. • Single Life Indexed Pensions: provide a higher regular income compared with the standard indexed pension outlined above, but are not transferred to a dependent upon your death. • Allocated Pensions: provide a regular income (at a level of your choosing), access to your capital, if desired, and four available investment strategies according to which your capital can be invested. If you die, the balance of the pension is distributed to your dependents. • Roll-over Options: give you the choice to transfer (roll over) your retirement fund balance to an approved personal or industry superannuation or investment fund, an approved deposit fund or a retirement savings account. • Part-Cash Distribution: give you the option to take a certain percentage of your retirement fund (subject to regulatory and tax approvals) as a cash lump sum to be used for investment or personal consumption purposes. Participants can also choose a combination of these alternatives, with a careful view to meeting their income and lifestyle requirements in retirement. Within this decisionmaking process, considerations of investment risk and return profiles are paramount, as are factors such as the effects of inflation and the time value of money. Questions 1. Outline what you think are the important factors that should be considered by tertiary sector employees when they are deciding whether to place their superannuation contributions in the Defined Benefit Plan or the Investment Choice Plan. What issues relating to the concept of the time value of money may be important in this decision-making process? 2. Explain how the time value of money has an impact on the potential investment returns and retirement savings of participants in both the Defined Benefit Plan and the Investment Choice Plan. Would you be correct in saying that participants who opt for the Defined Benefit Plan are foregoing potential gains in investment earnings and returns generated in connection with the time value of money? 3. Consider the retirement investment products that are offered to members by UniSuper Ltd. In terms of time value of money concepts and ideas, which of the available alternatives do you think would be most attractive? Explain the reasoning for your choice, using examples of present or future values calculations, if required.


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