What is a self-managed super fund (SMSF)?
Ever heard of a self managed super fund (SMSF) and thought ‘Interesting, but what actually is it and how do they work?’
This article discusses some of the differences between a traditional super fund and a self managed super fund. A self managed super fund is not appropriate for everyone and there are different risks associated with an SMSF compared to an APRA regulated fund.
What is a self-managed super fund (SMSF)?
Investing in superannuation is a requirement of all Australians. A self-managed super fund, or SMSF, is a private super fund where you have complete control over and responsibility for the fund's investment strategy. Play the video above for brief overview.
How does an SMSF work?
Fundamentally, self-managed super funds do the same job as any other super fund- they make and manage investment decisions for the purpose of providing retirement benefits. However, the way in which this happens is where they differ.
With an SMSF you as the member are also the SMSF trustee responsible for the investment strategy, reporting and compliance of the fund. Whilst the latter can seem like a daunting task, there are SMSF administrators, including Stake Super, who can help with the regulatory and compliance side of things.
Setting up an SMSF
There are a few steps involved in setting up an SMSF however Stake Super can manage the whole process for you. The process begins with registering the fund with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and then setting up a trust with either an individual or corporate trustee structure, obtaining & signing the trust deed, obtaining a fund ABN and setting up the fund's own bank account.
Click here to understand how the SMSF set-up process works with Stake Super.
Speak to a specialist
Want to know more about Stake Super or have questions? Speak to one of our SMSF experts.
Benefits of starting an SMSF
The number one benefit of setting up an SMSF is control. You have complete freedom to set the SMSF investment strategy in line with your own investing goals.
Discover our guide on the benefits of an SMSF to get a better understanding of all the advantages and disadvantages of starting your own fund.
What can an SMSF invest in?
With some limited exceptions, an SMSF provides you with the freedom to invest in almost anything. From cash, equities, managed funds and property to less common investments including v/c's, start-ups, collectables and much more.
The key considerations for what is an allowable investment within an SMSF is set out by the Australia Taxation Office (ATO). Those being:
- All investments are made on a commercial 'arm's length basis'
- The purchase and sale price of fund assets reﬂect true market value, and the income from fund assets reflect a true market rate of return
Further information can be found on the ATO website here.
Is an SMSF only for the over 50s?
No. Whilst historically SMSF trustees have skewed towards older demographics, this trend is shifting as a result of increasing financial knowledge, access to markets and reduced SMSF set-up and administrative costs from some providers (more on this below). In fact, in FY22 SMSF accounting provider Class found that 30% of new SMSFs were set up by fund members aged between 35-44 years old.
Can anyone set up an SMSF?
In short yes however an SMSF isn't right for everyone. Some important things to evaluate when considering an SMSF are:
- Investing knowledge: As you are responsible for the fund's investment strategy, fund members should have a good understanding of the markets and investing more broadly.
- Fund balance: Whilst there is no minimum balance, smaller fund balances should be mindful of SMSF set-up and administrative fees determine if they are comfortable with them in order to have investment control.
How much money do you need to have an SMSF?
As mentioned, there is no official minimum balance and many people with larger super portfolios set up their own SMSF as a more cost-effective way of managing their super. For people with smaller portfolio balances, price is more of a consideration given set-up and ongoing costs (annual accounting, auditing & taxation) which can be expensive among some providers- though not all.
For many SMSF providers, set up costs can be up to $1,500 depending on if the fund has an individual or corporate trustee structure and then ongoing management costs can be anywhere between $1,000-$3,000+. However for Stake Super, SMSF set-up and full ongoing administration starts at just $990.
🎓 Learn more: Discover the SMSF auditing process→
How are SMSFs regulated in Australia?
SMSFs are regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) which differs to industry and retail super funds whom are regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). While the compliance and reporting requirements of SMSFs sit with the fund trustee(s), SMSF administrators like Stake Super can do much of the heavy lifting to ensure the administrative requirements are satisfied.
Want to know more about Stake Super?
To learn more about out our SMSF administration service – inclusions, pricing and how we compare – head to our home page here.
We do not provide financial product advice, nor recommend that a self managed super fund (‘SMSF’) may be suitable for you. There are risks and differences of an SMSF compared to an APRA regulated fund. Your personal situation has not been taken into account. Stake SMSF Pty Ltd (‘Stake Super’) is not licensed to provide financial product advice under the Corporations Act. This specifically applies to any financial products which are established if you instruct Stake Super to set up an SMSF. When you sign up to Stake Super, you are contracting with Stake SMSF Pty Ltd who will assist in the establishment of an SMSF under a ‘no advice model’.
Megan is a markets analyst at Stake, with 7 years of experience in the world of investing and a Master’s degree in Business and Economics from The University of Sydney Business School. Megan has extensive knowledge of the UK markets, working as an analyst at ARCH Emerging Markets - a UK investment advisory platform focused on private equity. Previously she also worked as an analyst at Australian robo advisor Stockspot, where she researched ASX listed equities and helped construct the company's portfolios.