Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report – 2020 Financial Statements Note 14 – Superannuation Funds

The RBA sponsors two superannuation funds: RB Super and the Reserve Bank of Australia UK Pension Scheme. For RB Super, current and future benefits are funded by member and RBA contributions and the existing assets of the scheme.

RB Super is a hybrid plan, with a mix of defined benefit members, defined contribution members and pensioners. Defined benefit members receive a defined benefit in accordance with RB Super's plan rules. Most members have unitised accumulation balances, which comprise employer contributions and members' personal contributions plus earnings on these contributions. Defined benefit membership was closed to new RBA staff from 1 August 2014. From that date, new staff have been offered defined contribution superannuation. The RBA does not have a role in directly operating or governing RB Super and has no involvement in the appointment of the RB Super Trustees.

The UK Pension Scheme is a closed defined benefit scheme subject to relevant UK regulation. In 2018, the Trustees, with agreement from the RBA, entered into the buy-in side of a bulk purchase annuity (BPA) contract with Aviva Life and Pensions UK Limited (Aviva) to reduce the funding risk in relation to the UK Pension Scheme's pension liabilities. During 2019 and 2020, the Trustees completed their work with Aviva to convert the buy-in policy to a buy-out policy, thereby fully securing members' benefits with Aviva. The Trustees and the RBA have now commenced the wind up of the Scheme. Defined benefit accrual for current members ceased on 30 June 2018. From that date, current and new staff have been offered defined contribution arrangements in a separate fund.

Funding valuation

An independent actuarial valuation of RB Super is conducted every three years. The most recent review was completed for the financial position as at 30 June 2017 using the Attained Age Funding method (the valuation for the financial position as at 30 June 2020 will be completed shortly). Accrued benefits were determined as the value of the future benefits payable to members (allowing for future salary increases), discounted by the expected rate of return on assets held to fund these benefits. At the time of this review, the surplus was $190.1 million. On the same valuation basis, the RB Super surplus as at 30 June 2020 amounted to $270.0 million. The RBA maintained its contribution rate to fund defined benefit obligations at 18.3 per cent of salaries in 2019/20, consistent with the actuary's recommendation.

Accounting valuation

For financial statement purposes, disclosures required by AASB 119 are provided only for RB Super, as the UK Pension Scheme is not material.

Actuarial assumptions

The principal actuarial assumptions for the AASB 119 valuation of RB Super are:

Per cent
Per cent
Discount rate (gross of tax)(a) 3.5 3.4
Future salary growth(b) 3.0 3.0
Future pension growth(b) 3.0 3.0
  1. Based on highly rated Australian dollar-denominated corporate bond yields
  2. Includes a short-term assumption of 2.0 per cent for the first three years of the projections (2.0 per cent for the first two years in 2019)

Maturity analysis

The weighted average duration of the defined benefit obligation for RB Super is 20 years (20 years at 30 June 2019). The expected maturity profile for defined benefit obligations of RB Super is as follows:

Per cent
Per cent
Less than 5 years 15 15
Between 5 and 10 years 15 14
Between 10 and 20 years 27 27
Between 20 and 30 years 21 21
Over 30 years 22 23
Total 100 100

Risk exposures

Key risks from the RBA's sponsorship of the RB Super defined benefit plan include investment, interest rate, longevity, salary and pension risks.

Investment risk is the risk that the actual future return on plan assets will be lower than the assumed rate.

Interest rate risk is the exposure of the defined benefit obligations to adverse movements in interest rates. A decrease in interest rates will increase the present value of these obligations.

Longevity risk is the risk that RB Super members live longer, on average, than actuarial estimates of life expectancy.

Salary risk is the risk that higher than assumed salary growth will increase the cost of providing a salary-related pension.

Pension risk is the risk that pensions increase at a faster rate than assumed, thereby increasing the cost of providing them.

The table below shows the estimated change in the defined benefit obligation resulting from movements in key actuarial assumptions. These estimates change each assumption individually, holding other factors constant; they do not incorporate any correlations among these factors.

Change in defined benefit obligation from an increase of 0.25 percentage points in:
Discount rate (gross of tax) (82) (83)
Future salary growth 17 19
Future pension growth 64 64
Change in defined benefit obligation from a decrease of 0.25 percentage points in:
Discount rate (gross of tax) 88 89
Future salary growth (17) (18)
Future pension growth (61) (61)
Change in defined benefit obligation from an increase in life expectancy of one year 45 64

Asset distribution

The distribution of RB Super's assets used to fund members' defined benefits at 30 June is:

  Per cent of fund assets
2020 2019
Cash and short-term securities 2 2
Fixed interest and indexed securities 8 8
Australian equities 30 32
International equities 26 24
Property 10 11
Private equity 9 8
Infrastructure 10 11
Alternative strategies 5 4
Total 100 100

AASB 119 Reconciliation

The table below contains a reconciliation of the AASB 119 valuation of RB Super. These details are for the defined benefit component only, as the RBA faces no actuarial risk on defined contribution balances and these balances have no effect on the measurement of the financial position of RB Super.

  2020 $M 2019 $M
Opening balances:
Net market value of assets 1,376 1,270
Accrued benefits (1,552) (1,212)
Opening superannuation asset/(liability) (177) 57
Change in net market value of assets (51) 106
Change in accrued benefits (20) (340)
Change in superannuation asset/(liability) (70) (234)
Closing balances:
Net market value of assets 1,325 1,376
Accrued benefits (1,572) (1,552)
Closing superannuation asset/(liability) (247) (177)
Interest income 46 55
Benefit payments (46) (50)
Return on plan assets (70) 80
Contributions from RBA to defined benefit schemes 19 21
Change in net market value of assets (51) 106
Current service cost (49) (39)
Interest cost (53) (54)
Benefit payments 46 50
Gains/(losses) from change in demographic assumptions
Gains/(losses) from change in financial assumptions 64 (312)
Gains/(losses) from change in other assumptions (28) 15
Change in accrued benefits (20) (340)
Current service cost (49) (39)
Net Interest (expense)/income (6) 1
Productivity and superannuation guarantee contributions (10) (9)
Superannuation (expense)/income included in profit or loss (66) (47)
Actuarial remeasurement gain/(loss) (34) (217)
Superannuation (expense)/income included in Statement of Comprehensive Income (100) (264)

The components of this table may not add due to rounding.