Lonsec's peer group of superannuation funds with 61-80 per cent growth assets returned 6.9 per cent last calendar year, according to the research house's Multi-Asset Sector Review 2015.
Of the five sub-sectors included in the review, real return funds came in at the bottom of the pile, returning 3.7 per cent for the year to 31 December 2015.
Low-cost funds were second last in the list, returning 3.9 per cent on average and impacted by their higher allocations to the Australian equity sector which underperformed in 2015.
However, over a seven-year period, low-cost multi-asset funds have produced superior returns net of fees, returning 9.7 per cent on average, said Lonsec.
Lonsec's general manager of fixed income and multi-asset, Libby Newman, noted the growing use of white-label products in the multi-asset space.
"With the flow of funds, changing regulatory environment and central bank intervention distorting asset prices, we have seen a proliferation of new investment products," Ms Newman said.
"In the multi-asset space, solid interest in real return strategies has seen global players enter the Australian market in quick succession."
Investors are shifting towards multi-asset funds, but the twin challenges of low growth and high levels of uncertainty are continuing to "plague" markets, said the report.
"Investors are still looking for incontrovertible signs that the global economy is improving," Ms Newman said.
"We have not been seeing the sort of growth we expected two or three years ago. The main challenge for multi-asset funds is how they respond to this environment," she said.
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