Profit-to-member vs retail super funds: the difference and why it matters

If you’re looking around at different super funds, you’ll see a lot of words to describe them. Profit-to-member. Retail. Industry. Corporate. Not-for-profit. And more. Don’t worry if you’re finding it confusing. We’re here to tell you the difference – and where to find out more – so you can choose the fund that’s right for you.

Profit-to-member funds

Rest is a ‘profit-to-member’ super fund. It’s also called an ‘industry’ or ‘not-for-profit’ fund.
Industry funds were originally created by trade unions and industry groups who wanted to be sure Australians had money set aside for retirement. When Rest Super began in 1988, our funds were only available to people who worked in the retail industry. Today, anyone can join Rest and we look after the super of over 1.7 million members (as at December 2020).

So what does profit-to-member really mean?

Here’s where it gets good. A profit-to-member fund returns profits to members, not shareholders or anyone else. Since these funds were established for members, they always come first and are the top priority.

Profit-to-member funds typically charge lower fees than retail funds and these fees are designed to only cover the costs of running the fund.

Finally, profit-to-member funds have also tended to deliver better returns. That’s because of these lower fees and also because profit-to-member funds typically invest more in private assets like real estate, land, equipment and natural resources.
Woman and coin

What about retail funds?

A retail fund is for-profit. While these funds deliver returns to members, they also pay out dividends to shareholders. They’re usually run by banks or investment companies.

profit go to members x profits go to shareholders

Don’t just take our word for it

Now that you know the difference between profit-to-member and retail funds, let’s compare the numbers. The lower fees and better returns of profit-to-member funds can have a big impact on your super balance over time – just look at the graph below.
According to SuperRatings, a respected Australian superannuation research and consulting company, if you’d put $50,000 into a Rest Super account 20 years ago, today you’d have $55,726 more in your account than the average retail fund.* That’s more money in your super where it belongs.

$55,726 more money for you
Graph showing Rest Core Strategy performance
*SuperRatings Fund Crediting Rate Survey – May 2021, SR50 Balanced (60-76) Index. Returns are for the 20-year period from 31 May 2001 to 31 May 2021. Returns are net of investment fees, tax and implicit asset-based administration fees, for the Master Trust Median Fund and Rest Core Strategy. Explicit fees such as fixed dollar administration fees, exit fees, contribution fees and switching fees are excluded. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. Ratings, awards or investment returns are only some of the factors that you should consider when deciding how to invest your super. SuperRatings Pty Limited does not issue, sell, guarantee or underwrite this product. Go to for details of its ratings criteria.

There are more benefits with Rest

As a Rest member, you get fees at least 25% lower than the super industry average** and the long-term performance we’re known for, plus discounts and rewards. Check out why to choose Rest.
If we can help with anything else, contact us for advice today.

**Source: SuperRatings, Superannuation Market Analysis and Research Tool (SMART), September 2021. Rest's Core Strategy is compared against the default investment option of all publicly available superannuation products tracked by SuperRatings. Fees are subject to change. Taxes, other fees and costs may apply.

Want to learn more?