Superannuation consulting firm Rice Warner has called on the government to allow joint superannuation accounts for married couples.
In its pre-Budget submission to Treasury, Rice Warner said the change would increase the efficiency of the superannuation system in line with concerns raised by the Financial System Inquiry.
As well as making it easier to engage members, by allowing joint accounts the government could reduce the number of superannuation accounts "by several million", said the submission.
"If half of all couples exercised the option, there would be a reduction of 3.5 million accounts or 12 per cent of all accounts," Rice Warner continued.
Married members who combined their accounts would also be more likely to consolidate all of their superannuation, said the submission.
Furthermore, retirement benefit projections provided by superannuation funds would be more accurate within a joint account, it said.
"For example, the use of the age pension in benefit projections or online calculators would be based on the correct current marital status," Rice Warner explained.
The often-discussed 'female retirement savings shortfall' would also benefit, since couples would be able to plan their retirement finances together, said the submission.
Superannuation funds themselves could market to members to bring their spouses into the fund.
"This would increase the number of active members, which is the goal of all funds.
"We could [also] remove the facility allowing members to split their contributions and allocate some to a spouse. This is an administrative burden and adds little value to the system," said the submission.
Joint accounts for married couples would also simplify the process for SMSFs, Rice Warner said.
"Where both partners of a couple are the only members, the accounts would be much simplified as they wouldn’t need separate annual statements.
"If this initiative were introduced, it would improve efficiency in the system, be beneficial for millions of members and have no cost to government," Rice Warner said.
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