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Taking out a mortgage triggers engagement with superannuation

CEPAR industry report

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A new industry report by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), has found that for many Australians, taking out a home loan is a trigger for increased engagement with their superannuation.

The research project was conducted by researchers based at the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and Colonial First State (CFS).[1]

“We found that super fund members who took out a new residential mortgage in 2014 changed their super contribution behaviour around the time they took out their mortgage compared to those who did not take out a mortgage,” said Hazel Bateman, CEPAR Deputy Director and Professor at the UNSW Business School.

The way in which super contribution behaviour changed differed for members by the type of mortgage they took out.

“Those taking out a mortgage to buy an investment property tended to re-weight their portfolios towards real estate and away from their super but owner-occupiers tended to build up their super after the real estate purchase,” said Susan Thorp, Professor in the University of Sydney Business School.

The report also showed that super fund members who took mortgages also increased their interactions with their financial service providers.

“Members who took out a mortgage increased their number of bank branch visits, use of their bank app and online banking, as well as phone calls to their super fund,” said Professor Thorp.

Superannuation is characterised by low levels of engagement as the way the system is set up allows many super fund members to ‘set and forget’ until retirement.

James Brownlow, National Manager Analytics & Business Intelligence at CFS said that the results provided much needed insights into what triggers members’ engagement with their super.

“This research will help policymakers as well as super funds like CFS, more effectively engage members by shedding light on what triggers their engagement with super,” he said.

[1] Researchers compared a unique dataset of over 1,000 CFS super fund members who took out a mortgage, with an equal number of CFS super fund members with similar characteristics who did not take out a mortgage in calendar year 2014.


Hazel Bateman, James Brownlow, Ben Culbert, Charles Chu, Christine Eckert, Bin Fu and Susan Thorp (2019): New residential mortgages and superannuation engagement. CEPAR Industry Report 2019/2.