Bright outlook for Self-managed Super Fund Advisers

  • Staff Reporter | July 18, 2019
What is an SMSF

An SMSF Adviser is a specialist financial planner who provides clients with advice on self-managed super funds. This covers helping them to determine the suitability of the SMSF option, establishing the fund and participating in its ongoing management.  

SMSF advisers have specialist knowledge of the legal and compliance requirements around SMSFs – for example, how clients can purchase investment properties using their accumulated superannuation, the rules for being an Australian superannuation fund, and the special auditing needs of an SMSF.
 
In addition, SMSF advisers offer their advice as financial planners to determine an investment strategy for the fund based on the client's current situation, finances and lifestyle, future plans and earning potential, their goals for living off the fund in retirement, and their openness to engaging with risk.
 
SMSF advisers can also help clients understand the benefits, obligations and responsibilities associated with having an SMSF or being an SMSF trustee.

It’s a growth industry

The SMSF sector now accounts for close to 600,000 superannuation funds, representing more than one million members with almost $7 billion in funds under management, approximately one-third of Australia's $2.3 trillion in superannuation savings. 

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That’s huge! In the four years leading up to 2017, the number of consumers who invested their retirement savings in SMSFs has increased by close to 30 percent, with this trend looking to continue.
 
With so many customers and funds under management, there are great opportunities for a career as an SMSF adviser.

SMSF Overview - the industry

It’s a complicated business

Setting up and managing an SMSF can be complicated! Members of the fund will need to create a trust, appoint trustees, register the SMSF, manage the fund reporting and decide on how they’ll invest the funds under management. That’s a lot for your average person with limited financial experience.
 
Many SMSF trustees turn to professionals for help, especially once they realise how much work is involved in managing an SMSF — and how hard the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) can come down on SMSF trustees who get it wrong.
 
Since 2015, the ATO has held significant administrative powers over SMSFs, and trustees can be made personally liable for breaches by the fund. The ATO regularly penalises trustees for failing to meet regulatory requirements. Common infringements are seen in areas like loans, borrowings, sole purpose breaches, in-house assets, and arms-length and related party investments. Penalties can range from $850 to $10,200.

Who can give SMSF advice?

In Australia, to give customers tailored SMSF advice, you’ll need to be a trained and accredited financial planner, or (for certain kinds of advice) an accountant operating under an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence. There are many different pathways available for people looking at a career in financial planning, but a focus on superannuation places you ahead of the pack when it comes to providing SMSF advice to consumers. 
 
There is a range of registered training organisations (RTO) who can help you take the first steps towards a career as an SMSF adviser – check out your options today!
 

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