Speaker: Professor Ben R Newell (UNSW Psychology, CEPAR)
Abstract: The relaxation of conditions for early release of superannuation savings changed a fundamental feature of the Australian retirement savings system. Responses of members to the early release scheme highlight the effectiveness of the standard superannuation preservation rules. Early withdrawals have short-term and long-term consequences for individual members who take payments under the scheme, and for society as a whole. I will discuss results of a survey of over 3,000 members of Cbus, a leading industry fund, who withdrew some or all of their superannuation savings in the first phase of the COVID-19 early release scheme between April and June 2020. Major findings include: members’ uncertainty about the impact of their withdrawal on future retirement wealth; the anchoring effect of the $10,000 limit on withdrawal amounts; and the diverse motivations behind the decision to withdraw.