Written by Robin Bowerman, Head of Market Strategy and Communications at Vanguard/Board Director of the SMSF Association
After two weeks of surprising and concerning revelations about the inner workings of some of the larger financial planning businesses in the country, it was refreshing to attend the SMSF trustee expo in Melbourne last weekend.
It was a timely reminder that investing in yourself as an investor is one antidote to the issue of poor advice.
Here were more than 2000 investors taking time out over a beautiful autumn weekend to invest in their own financial education, attending seminars and workshops not just on investment topics but also getting updates on the technical and administrative changes that SMSF trustees need to be aware of.
The inaugural event was staged by the SMSF Association as a way of engaging directly with investors who have – or are thinking of setting up – a self-managed super fund.
Now the term self-managed super fund is something of a misnomer. There are very few people who literally handle every aspect of their fund. Rather it is an eco-system of support whether it be a lawyer to update the trust deed, an auditor for the fund’s accounts or a broker/investment manager to invest the money.
As we have also had highlighted from the royal commission, an SMSF is not the simplistic solution for everyone. You can certainly enlist professional administration and accounting services and advice but you cannot outsource the responsibility to manage the fund within the legal framework that applies to superannuation.
That should certainly be a major consideration before anyone decides to set up a self-managed fund.
There are two other key areas to focus on if you are thinking of joining the one million plus army of trustees – costs and complexity.
There are costs involved in setting an SMSF up and then there is ongoing administration and professional advice services needed to keep the fund on track and compliant.
An SMSF also comes with heavier personal responsibilities – as the fund’s trustee you are responsible for managing the fund’s affairs. Period.
On the positive side, those people who have made the decision to set up their own fund get the benefit of a flexible and personal retirement savings vehicle that can bring a higher level of engagement and control, particularly over their tax and investment approaches.
So it is timely for trustees of self-managed super funds to review arrangements, understand fees being paid and think about whether there is a need to go back to the basics of what an SMSF is meant to be achieving.
The bottom line is an SMSF – like any other super fund – is set up for the sole purpose of providing for the retirement of its members. A balanced, well-diversified portfolio across all the major asset classes with a keen eye on fees and the appropriate time horizon will go a long way to giving you the best chance of achieving just that.
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