Is an SMSF right for you?

Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) are the largest and fastest growing super sector in Australia and for many good reasons. But before you start an SMSF, it’s important to weigh up both the advantages and disadvantages and consider seeking advice to determine whether an SMSF is right for you.

The advantages

SMSFs can offer a number of features and benefits generally not available with other super options.

More investment control

You can establish your own investment strategy and directly control where and how your super is invested.

More investment choice

You can select from a wider range of investments including all listed shares, some unlisted shares, residential and business property, and collectables such as artwork, stamps and coins.

One fund for the family

You can set up a fund for yourself and up to three other people and consolidate your super balances. This could enable you to invest in assets of higher value than if you set up a fund with fewer members, achieve greater estate planning flexibility, and reduce fund costs.

Borrow to make larger investments

Your SMSF could make a larger investment in assets such as shares and property by using cash in your fund and borrow the rest.

Tax savings

With SMSFs you can take greater control over the timing of tax events such as starting a pension without triggering capital gains tax when your superannuation assets move into pension phase. You may also have the option of transferring assets that you own into your SMSF.

Greater estate planning certainty and flexibility

You can nominate who you would like to receive your super when you pass away without having to meet some of the constraints that apply to other super funds.

The disadvantages

While an SMSF can offer greater opportunities to take control of your retirement savings, there are some potential disadvantages you should also consider.

Higher costs for lower balances

SMSFs generally only become cost-effective if the fund has $200,000 or more invested. This is particularly true where you outsource and pay for most or all of the fund administration.

Greater responsibility

When you set up an SMSF, you and any other fund members will generally need to be trustees (or directors of the corporate trustee) and will be responsible for meeting a range of legal and other obligations.

Harsh penalties for breaches

The Australian Tax Office has the authority to impose various treatments to deal with SMSF trustees who have breached super laws. These include:

  • requiring trustees to complete certain educational requirements within certain timeframes
  • disqualifying an individual from acting as a trustee or director of a corporate trustee
  • imposing significant administrative penalties on individual trustees and directors of corporate trustees of up to $10,200 per breach
  • applying through the courts to impose civil and criminal penalties, and
  • giving notice to a trustee to freeze the SMSF’s assets where it appears that their conduct is likely to adversely affect the interests of beneficiaries.

Time consuming

You will need to have enough time, knowledge and skills to manage your own super and meet your legal and other obligations.

Seeking advice

You should seek professional advice or guidance from a financial adviser when deciding on the best superannuation solution for you. It is recommended that you also seek advice from a registered tax agent to determine the tax implications for you before setting up an SMSF.

To find out more about the information in this article contact Orbis Wealth Management on 1300 067 247.

Important information and disclaimer

This publication has been prepared by Simon Dundas-Smith.  Simon Dundas-Smith and Orbis Wealth Management Pty Ltd are Authorised Representatives of Consultum Financial Advisers Pty Ltd ABN 65 006 373 995 AFSL 230323.

Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Accordingly, reliance should not be placed on the information contained in this document as the basis for making any financial investment, insurance or other decision. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.

Information in this publication is accurate as at the date of writing (May 2016). In some cases the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, the accuracy of that information is not guaranteed in any way.

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