Super for arts professionals: getting the right advice

The erratic work life of arts professionals means many in the sector are unprepared for retirement – but they don’t need to be.
Super for arts professionals: getting the right advice

In the past year alone Media Super gained more 9,500 new members - and it’s not hard to understand why.

Often people who work within the creative industries don’t have the steady jobs that enable them to follow a traditional super plan.

But an industry-tailored fund enables members of the arts community to finally understand and organise superannuation and start planning for retirement.

Media Super provides programs, resources and financial planning* ​advice that are specifically tailored for people who work in arts, entertainment, media and print.

Accumulating super is not an easy thing for many arts professionals to do; the erratic and intermittent pay made by freelancers in our sector, and the nature of the work many of us do as casuals, does not easily lead to the tidy nest egg one would hope for. ​That is why it is important for arts professionals to get the right information at every stage of their careers.

Financial managers used to working with people in more highly structured industries may be poorly placed to deal with the specific needs of those working in the arts and cultural industries.

‘Media Super has a long history of working with people in entertainment and the arts. Over time we have really learnt to understand the unique financial position arts professionals are in, who often aren’t in traditional employment, and the challenges that can really present, say if you were trying to save for your retirement,’ said Michael Rooney, Deputy CEO of Media Super.

‘We sit within the creative community in Australia and work with people at a grassroots level, as well as all the way through to industry partnerships. We also celebrate our members’ achievements and I think that’s really exciting, it’s great that we are helping people thrive across their working life professionally and then financially into their retirement.' ​

To provide support to its members, Media Super has developed programs such as the Casting Call, which allows members to register their business, whether as a freelancer, actor, or musician, or as a company, with the aim of generating new work opportunities by enabling professional connections and collaborations within the sector.

“We’ve already had a great response – and this helps Media Super further understand and appreciate our membership and the industry,’ said Rooney.

In 2016 it will also release a series of financial literacy videos designed to educate people about their superannuation, with a view to releasing further educational resources later on that focus on how freelancers and casuals can make the most of their super.

‘Super is one of those things that nearly everyone has, but unfortunately not everyone has a thorough understanding of. An important part of our job is to help members understand their super.’

The first series will cover basic topics such as what is super? How can I make the most of super? Why is there insurance in my superannuation? How do I combine my super?

‘These are common questions that people often have and can be much easier to explain face-to-face. While the first few will be quite general, we are looking at tailoring some to focus on freelancers down the track, which will be particularly useful for people with intermittent incomes across media, entertainment and arts in particular,’ said Rooney. 

Media Super also provide online calculators to help members determine how much super they need to save to be comfortable during their retirement and how to boost super savings.

Click here to learn how to grow your super.

‘People might know how much they have in their super and potentially how much they’ll have when they retire, but they often don’t know how much they’ll actually need to fund their retirement. Figuring out how much you need is an important step, then you have a goal to work towards.

‘Our calculators are really handy tools to help people better understand their current position and plan to reach their retirement goals,’ said Rooney.

‘You can see how you are tracking and if you’re not on track, you can use the calculators to see how additional contributions can help you boost your super. And it’s always a good idea to have a chat to our helpline or our financial planners* for advice.’

As well as online resources and programs to help those who work in the arts and entertainment sectors, the fund takes the time to celebrate their achievements. 

‘Our Yearbook, which is part of our annual report online, focuses on the people who make up our membership base and our employers in the industry, really celebrating what they do and highlighting their achievements,’ said Rooney.

It’s an unusual approach for a financial enterprise but that’s because Media Super is no outsider to the sector. 

‘It’s more than just being a service provider, we are quite ingrained in those industries that we work with.’

By creating a direct line of communication with professionals who work in the arts through various partnerships, ​Media Super has fostered ​​a strong connection with the sector and this gives them an informed understanding of the particular situation facing many workers and employers in the creative industries.

‘As well as working with partner organisations and the MEAA, there’s also board representatives who come from the entertainment and arts sectors - Performance Australia and Screen Producers Australia,’ said Rooney. 

'There’s a real understanding of the industries right at the top. Plus we work with organisations to run financial literacy education programs, because there are unique needs that people have so if we can identify them by working closely with people who know the members best we can help in those ways where we can as well.' 

To find out more about Media Super visit

* Media Super financial planners are authorised representatives of Industry Fund Services Pty Ltd ABN 54 007 016 195, AFSL 23214

This article provides general information only, and does not take into consideration your personal objectives, situation or needs. Before making a decision to combine your superannuation, you should consider any penalties such as exit fees, change to insurance cover or loss of benefits that may apply and, if necessary, consult a qualified financial adviser. Before making any financial decisions you should first determine whether the information is appropriate for you by reading the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and/or by consulting a qualified financial adviser. Issued by Media Super Limited (ABN 30 059 502 948, AFSL 230254) as Trustee of Media Super (ABN 42 574 421 650).

Brooke Boland

Thursday 21 January, 2016

About the author

Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW. She has a PhD in literature from the University of NSW. You can find her on Instagram @southcoastwriter.