Australia’s total superannuation balance increased a remarkable 9.7 per cent in the 12 months to March this year, with strong market performance and “positive contributions growth” pushing the total asset pool to $3.4 trillion according to data published by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Led by a 12 per cent jump in self-managed superannuation fund assets, from $796 billion to $892 billion, and a 9.6 per cent increase in APRA-regulated assets, the total pool took its largest jump in recent years largely on the back of resilient markets and sound institutional investment practice.

Contributions played a large role however, with a 16.9 per cent increase – made easier by fiscal stimulus measures brought about to mitigate the effects of the pandemic – bringing the annual tally to $141.6 billion.

As expected, total benefit payments decreased significantly – down 23.8 per cent to $83.9 billion – with the closure of the government’s early release scheme and lump sum payments returning to average levels.

Over the period employer contributions increased by 6.6 per cent to $104 billion, of which super guarantee contributions ($77 billion) increased just above 5 per cent.

“This contributions growth can be largely attributed to the increase in household savings during the onset of Covid-19, although member contribution levels have begun to revert back to longer term trends in the past two quarters,” APRA stated in the Quarterly Superannuation Performance March update.

According to the update, however, the superannuation pool is already starting to slow down its rapid growth due to an accumulation of domestic and global investment drivers.

“The March 2022 quarter reflects contributions beginning to revert to long-term trends and weaker investment performance due to concerns over higher interest rates with rising inflation exacerbated by constrained supply chains, and the uncertainty brought about by the conflict in Ukraine,” the report stated.