Wharfies, Catholic school teachers and alumina refinery employees are among the workers to have enjoyed the biggest boosts to their retirement nest eggs over the past decade.
Figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority released yesterday rank the biggest 200 funds by their rate of return over the past year, five years and 10 years.
Despite the global financial crisis hammering superannuation balances when it hit in 2008, virtually all funds have delivered above-inflation returns since 2004. The 200 funds account for almost 60 per cent of the total savings preserved in the superannuation industry.
Total superannuation assets grew $220 billion to $1.62 trillion in 2012-13.
The industry rate of return last year was 13.7 per cent, and over-the-decade 6 per cent a year.
Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia chief executive Pauline Vamos said the data reinforced that superannuation was a strong long-term investment.
She said though super funds were still subject to volatility with Australia part of the global economy, the worst of the GFC had been truly left behind.
"What this means for many people, which is fabulous news, is when you look at returns over the last five years, those returns are starting to look a lot healthier," she said.
The two top performing funds for the decade to June 2013 belonged to employees working in the financial services sector.
The best performer was the Goldman Sachs & JB Were Superannuation Fund, which returned on average 10.5 per cent a year.
Commonwealth Bank Group Super returned 8.1 per cent a year for its members. Unisuper, which covers academics and other university staff, is the highest-ranked industry fund, at third.
Its return was 8 per cent a year, the same as enjoyed by workers at the Worsley Alumina refinery near Collie through their fund.
Other industry funds in the top 10 were the Catholic Superannuation Fund, Maritime Super (both with a 7.5 per cent return) and Energy Super (7.4 per cent).
Perpetual's WealthFocus fund was the highest-ranked retail fund, at 20th with 7.1 per cent a year return.
The nation's biggest fund, AMP Superannuation, with 2.7 million members, had a 4.8 per cent a year return and was ranked 116th.
The worst performer over the decade is Progress Super Fund, which covers bookmakers.
Its 1900 members have had an annual return of just 0.1 per cent.
The best-performing fund for the past five years was the CBH Superannuation Fund.
The fund for employees of WA's grain handler returned 7.7 per cent a year between 2009 and 2013.
Returns over the last five years are starting to look a lot healthier." ASFA chief Pauline Vamos