Understanding valuations

26 May 2023

Valuing your super

Each business day, crediting rates are calculated for AustralianSuper’s investment options to determine the return on your super. These crediting rates are based on the change in value of each of the investment assets held in an investment option. Ensuring that these crediting rates are based on the fair value of investment assets is an integral part of determining your account balance.

The source, methodology and frequency of valuations are important parts of the process when valuing your super. AustralianSuper has a valuation framework that includes both a valuation policy and a valuation standard to ensure there is an appropriate process to value investment assets.

AustralianSuper’s valuation approach has members’ equity as an underlying objective. This means we seek to ensure equity across members over time as they enter the fund, add to their super, switch between options or perform withdrawals to spend their savings in retirement.

Fair value 

AustralianSuper’s investment assets are valued in accordance with approved accounting standards and other applicable regulatory guides, which require that assets are measured at fair value. Fair value refers to the worth of an asset or its market value if it’s bought or sold in an orderly transaction between hypothetical parties.

Fair value can be sourced from a public forum, like a stock exchange, or measured based on the expected earnings of an asset or even recent sales of similar assets. For example, if you wanted the value of a large Australian public company, the information is available from the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) based on its last trade. However, for an asset like a house, you may need to base the value on expected rental income or recent sales of comparable properties in the area.

Source of valuations

AustralianSuper invests in many types of assets to grow your super. These include actively traded assets, such as listed shares and fixed interest assets, as well as private market assets, such as unlisted property, unlisted infrastructure, private equity and private credit.

For actively traded assets, the value can be obtained from a market exchange, such as the ASX or from a broker that can provide a quote. Typically, the market close or last trade price is used for the value of frequently traded assets.

For private market assets, the value cannot be obtained from a market exchange and must be separately established. For directly held assets, independent valuers are appointed to regularly value the largest holdings in the portfolio. The expertise, knowledge and familiarity with local market conditions, market transactions and industry trends of the independent valuation experts and property appraisers are important inputs to the valuation process. AustralianSuper may internally value assets in the portfolio based on their size, cost or other factors which would be in Members’ Best Financial Interest. 

The portfolio also holds private market assets indirectly or through external fund manager agreements. The valuation policies of external managers are assessed to ensure that they are consistent with AustralianSuper’s valuation policy. These types of investments typically provide valuations on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Valuation methodologies of private market assets

AustralianSuper uses valuation methodologies and data sources that are most appropriate for each asset considering characteristics such as size and location, the level of access to reliable, consistent and timely market data, the availability of valuation data and the level of activity in the same or similar assets.

Relevant assumptions, such as the discount rates or capitalisation rates, are determined by the valuer reflecting the current view of economic conditions and asset specific drivers. For example, to value a toll road in the infrastructure portfolio, the amount of traffic and economic activity near the road are key inputs.

The following table summarises the typical valuation methodologies used in valuing different private market assets.

Asset class Example of valuation method 
Private equity Comparable transactions, discounted cash flow,
capitalisation of revenue or income
Unlisted infrastructure Discounted cash flow
Unlisted property Capitalisation of income
Private credit Discounted cash flow
Frequency

Valuations are updated regularly for investment assets in the portfolio. For actively traded assets, valuations are typically updated daily, while the frequency of private market asset valuations is based on their size in the portfolio.

The greater the exposure that an asset has in an investment option, the more frequently the asset is valued. Assets with higher weights are valued quarterly. About 90%, by value, of AustralianSuper’s internally managed directly held assets in property and infrastructure are valued quarterly. Assets with lower weights are valued semi-annually or annually. For example, some of the largest holdings in the portfolio such as WestConnex (infrastructure) or King’s Cross in London (property) are valued quarterly.

Unique situations or stressed market conditions 

As part of the process to value investments at fair value, AustralianSuper monitors factors that may require an update to investment valuations in the portfolio. This could be an event that only affects one asset or group of assets, or an investment market event that would trigger an update to asset valuations. For example, a change in ownership, damage to an asset, the suspension of trading on a listed exchange or significant market event could influence asset valuations. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was an example of a significant sell-off in listed share markets. In March 2020, AustralianSuper took steps to update the valuations of private market assets in the portfolio. It was a time when infrastructure assets were affected by a reduction in trade, air travel and road traffic, while retail and office properties were impacted by the lockdowns. It was important to revalue the private market assets in the portfolio to ensure that valuations reflected the market conditions.

In summary

The value of assets in the portfolio directly impacts the return you receive in your investment option. AustralianSuper’s investment valuation framework (policy and standard) provides a structure for the valuation of investment assets in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and applicable regulatory guidance from APRA and ASIC. The policy aims for equity across all members and ensures independence between the persons responsible for making investment decisions and those responsible for the valuation of assets.

Additional reading:

AustralianSuper’s Fund Financial Statements provide additional detail into the valuation approach for assets in the portfolio. Visit the About Us page of our website, and find the Financial Statements section under the Reports tab.

READ MORE: 2023 FUND FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

You can also visit our What We Invest In page to explore a comprehensive look at individual investment holdings.

 

EXPLORE OUR PERFORMANCE

 

This may include general financial advice which doesn’t take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision consider if the information is right for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, available at australiansuper.com/PDS or by calling 1300 300 273. A Target Market Determination (TMD) is a document that outlines the target market a product has been designed for. Find the TMDs at australiansuper.com/TMD.

AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788, Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898.


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