Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (“SMSF’s”) are a very popular superannuation structure being utilised by approximately 300,000 individuals, families and small businesses. They currently account for over 30% of all assets held in the Australian superannuation system. These small superannuation funds are referred to by a variety of different names including “DIY” funds (do it yourself), “Family” funds, “Mum and Dad” funds and of course “SMSF’s”.
SMSF’s perform the same role as other funds, by investing contributions and making them available to members on retirement. The main difference is that the members of a SMSF are also the trustees of the fund. They control the investment of their contributions and the payment of their benefits.
As individuals’ superannuation assets have grown, many people have sought to gain greater control over the day-to-day management of their superannuation. Hence, the rise in popularity of the SMSF.
A SMSF is a superannuation fund that has a number of unique characteristics. Some of these include:
- A SMSF can have no more than 4 members – hence their popularity with families;
- No member of the fund is an employee of another member of the fund, unless they are related,
- Each member of the fund must be a trustee of the fund, and each trustee must be a member. Where a company is appointed to act as the trustee of a SMSF, each member of the fund must be a director of the trustee company, and each director must be a member;
- No trustee of the fund receives any remuneration for their services as trustee,
- SMSF’s are regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) whereas other types of superannuation funds are regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority.
Whilst the trustees of a SMSF must act in accordance with the general laws governing all superannuation funds, a number of concessions apply including the ability of a SMSF to acquire certain assets (particularly listed securities and business real property) directly from members of the fund.
SMSF’s offer some very real benefits to members but, at the same time, carry responsibilities and obligations.
A SMSF accredited Professional Investment Services authorised representative can assist people interested in taking greater control over their superannuation in determining the suitability of a SMSF for their particular circumstances.