May 19, 2023 | 3 min read
Summary: Steve Gamerov, Head of Diversified Portfolios at MLC looks at the last quarter’s numbers and discusses how we’re approaching the evolving economic environment.
The first quarter of 2023 was full of contradictions.
Initially, there was suggestion that inflation pressures were easing, meaning a slowing — or even an end — to the steep series of interest rate rises.
Yet interest rates and inflation remained elevated and that is typically bad news for investment markets.
To add to this, tensions between the US and China showed no sign of easing. Russian forces continued to hammer at Ukrainian positions in Bakhmut.
Then to make things worse, the tail end of the quarter saw a series of cracks in the US banking system with the collapse of Silvergate Capital, Signature Bank and the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).
All three banks had made significant risk management errors, some of which included: running their bond portfolios unhedged, diving into cryptocurrency or tying their fortunes too closely to tech stocks battered by rising interest rates. When giant Swiss bank, Credit Suisse, also came under pressure, markets feared a repeat of the 2008 global financial crisis.
Fortunately, prompt action from regulators in the US and Switzerland held off the crisis. And, despite all these negatives, investment markets showed remarkable resilience.
Unhedged Global Shares were up nearly 9% for the three months to end March 2023. Unhedged emerging market shares beat the 5% mark. Over the same period, Australian shares were up 3.5% The local and global bond market also had a return, delivering returns of 4.6% and 2.4% (hedged) respectively.
MLC’s MySuper Growth Portfolio continued to generate highly competitive returns over the March quarter.
The three-year return — of 9.87% per annum to end March 2023 — puts MLC’s MySuper Growth Portfolio in the top 10 investment options surveyed in the SuperRatings Fund Crediting Rate Survey - SR50 MySuper Index to March 2023.1
Performance over 5 years — at over 6.5% per annum^ — also ranks the MLC MySuper Growth Portfolio in the top ten investment options.
Despite the strong March quarter market performance, we remain cautious about the economic environment.
Our view is that the high interest rate environment is likely to persist, and this will weaken global growth. Strategically we are seeking to invest in assets that are likely to be resilient in an environment of slowing economic growth as well as assets that can act as a hedge against high inflation such as property and infrastructure..
However, we also believe that further weakness in economic activity and volatility in sharemarkets could provide opportunities to buy quality assets at discounted prices.
When investing for our members — people who are looking to build wealth for decades — opportunities to buy high-quality assets when relatively cheap, can turn short-term volatility into a highly positive outcome.
Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The value of an investment may rise or fall with the changes in the market.
1 Based on SuperRatings Fund Crediting Rate Survey, SR50 MySuper Index to March 2023. Returns are calculated net of investment fees, tax and implicit asset-based administration fees. Explicit fees such as fixed dollar administration fees, exit fees, contribution fees and switching fees are excluded. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Ratings are only one factor to be taken into account when choosing a super fund.
^ MLC MySuper uses a combination of the three investment portfolios (MySuper Growth, MySuper Conservative Growth, MySuper Cash Plus), to provide a mix of growth and defensive assets which changes depending on your age. When you’re under age 55 you’ll be 100% invested in MySuper Growth. The MySuper investment strategy changed from a single diversified to a lifecycle strategy on 22 March 2019. The returns for the MySuper Growth Portfolio for the period before 2019 are based on the previous single diversified investment strategy. The return for 2019 is based on the return achieved from 1 July 2018 to 22 March 2019 with the single diversified strategy, and the return achieved from 23 March 2019 to 31 March 2023 is based on the lifecycle investment strategy. The return for 5-years is based on return of the MySuper product over that period which had different investment strategies. All returns are net of investment fees and tax considerations and do not include administration fees and costs. For details of relevant fees and costs, refer to the PDS and Investment Menu.
Sources quoted in this article. All returns to 31/03/2023 unless otherwise stated, Australian shares - S&P/ASX 200 Total Return Index; Global shares (hedged) - MSCI All Countries World (A$ hedged, Net); Global shares (unhedged) - MSCI All Countries World in A$ (Net); Emerging markets - MSCI Emerging Markets in A$ (Net); Australian bonds - Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index; Global bonds (A$ hedged) - Barclays Global Aggregate (A$ hedged, Gross).
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This article has been prepared by NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited ABN 80 008 515 633 AFSL 236465 (NULIS) as trustee of the MLC Super Fund ABN 70 732 426 024. NULIS is part of the Insignia Financial group of companies comprising Insignia Financial Ltd ABN 49 100 103 722 and its related bodies corporate (‘Insignia Financial Group’). The information in this article is current as at November 2023 and may be subject to change. This information may constitute general advice. The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions based on this information. It is recommended that you consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) before you make any decisions about your superannuation. You can obtain the latest copy of the PDS (or other disclosure documents) and TMD by calling us on 132 652 or by searching for the applicable product at mlc.com.au. You should not rely on this article to determine your personal tax obligations. Please consult a registered tax agent for this purpose. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue. The case study examples (if any) provided in this article have been included for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied upon for decision making. Subject to terms implied by law and which cannot be excluded, neither NULIS nor any member of the Insignia Financial Group accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in the information in this communication.