The typical Australian superannuation fund, which invests as much as 80 per cent in stocks, property, infrastructure and private equity, lost 2.5 per cent in 2011, says Chant West, the superannuation fund analysts.

Superannuation fund performance was negatively impacted by the performance of the S&P/ASX 300 Index which fell 11 per cent last year, says Chant West.

Superannuation funds that had a more conservative investment strategy and had between 21 per cent and 40 per cent invested in shares, property, infrastructure and private equity did comparatively well compared with some of its peers.

Such so-called conservative funds returned 3 per cent in 2011, says Chant West.

Patrick Farrell, head of Advance Investment Solutions, says 2012 expectations of market performance are negative. That is in contrast to the beginning of 2011 when fund managers were mostly positive.

“The market is susceptible to good news,” says Farrell.

“You need to be flexible and nimble in this environment so that when there are opportunities you can take them when risks come off,” he says.

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