If you have your super with a retail provider more than likely you are being charged higher fees for lower average performance.

That means a much lower balance when you retire, with your fees most likely ending up in the pockets of the big four banks Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) or AMP Limited (ASX: AMP).

When it comes to retail superannuation funds, the big five dominate the industry. But in a new report, research again reveals that retail funds charge higher fees – on average 85% to 300% more than for an individual in an equivalent industry (not-for-profit) super fund.

The report by independent research house SuperRatings, commissioned by the Institute of Superannuation Trustees showed that on a like-for-like basis, people in retail funds were more likely to end up worse off. It’s not the first time research has revealed this unfortunately as we written previously last month, July 2015 and November 2015, and even in 2014.

In some cases, retirees were paying up to four times more just to keep their super in cash. SuperRatings head of research Adam Gee has told Fiarfax Media that some funds are charging exorbitant fees, especially for passive or conservative investment options. “Some people are paying more than 1% in fees on a cash management strategy, which should not reasonably cost more than 0.2%,” he said.

Not only that but non-profit funds outperformed their retail rivals across all investment options over 7 and 10 years. Over the 1, 3 and 5 year periods, non-profit funds beat retail funds in all investment options except for international shares and property investment. Given the short time period, it’s likely that non-profit funds will continue to outperform retail funds over longer-time frames, partly because of their lower fees.

Foolish takeaway

Australians treat their super with neglect, until it’s almost too late to make much difference. If you have your super with a retail fund, it’s time you took charge of it and find out what your fees and returns are and compare them to similar products on offer from non-profit funds. If you use a financial adviser ask them what fees you are being charged and how your performance compares to an industry fund.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.