New Research: Understanding Self-Managed Super Fund Performance

The SMSF Association has engaged the University of Adelaide to explore the relationship between fund size and investment performance of self-managed super funds (SMSFs) and APRA-regulated funds, titled ‘Understanding self-managed super fund performance’.

This research venture used SMSF financial statement data from over 50% of the SMSF population and a calculation method APRA uses to calculate returns, to identify a more realistic picture of the minimum fund balance an SMSF needs to achieve comparable investment returns with much larger funds.

Coupled with a diversified asset allocation, the research findings support the notion that the threshold at which SMSFs start to see improvement in investment returns is $200,000. 

Although SMSFs are not for everyone, this research is good news for individuals who have the time and expertise, and want control over their retirement savings.

Discover more about the 5 key research findings in the factsheet and report summary belowthat should be considered by current SMSF trustees, or those individuals who are discussing their super options with an accredited SMSF Specialist.


Fact Sheet: 5 Key Findings

A one-page document that showcases the 5 key research findings, written in easy-to-understand language tailored to SMSF trustees about the ‘Understanding self-managed super fund performance‘ research.

Download your Fact Sheet & discover the 5 key findings

Download your Fact Sheet & discover the 5 key findings

This factsheet showcases the 5 key research findings from the ‘Understanding self-managed super fund performance‘ research. 

Find out how SMSF returns compare to other superannuation options and how fund size & diversification can impact SMSF investment performance.

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    Report Summary

    A high-level summary about key research findings with accompanying SMSF Association commentary.


    Academic Paper

    Academically written report outlining the full methodology and calculations used to discover key research findings.

    In the Media

    SMSF Association Media Release

    The investment performance of a typical self-managed super fund (SMSF) improves as the fund balance approaches $200,000. Once this threshold is reached the fund achieves comparable investment returns with APRA regulated funds, according to comprehensive research released today by the University of Adelaide’s International Centre for Financial Services (ICFS).


    New research released on Tuesday (15 February) by the University of Adelaide revealed that the investment performance of a typical self-managed super fund (SMSF) improves as the fund balance approaches $200,000.

    Self Managed Super

    SMSFs that had assets above $200,000 and were not concentrated in cash and term deposits had performance on par with Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)-regulated funds, according to new research commissioned by the SMSF Association.

    SMSF Association

    First published in Financial Review on 23 February 2022. Licensed by Copyright Agency.

    Self Managed Super

    The latest research into SMSF investment returns has revealed significant holdings in one particular asset class was the common denominator in funds that showed underperformance compared to their Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)-regulated counterparts.

    Self Managed Super

    There is a strong case for new consumer guidance about the costs and performance of SMSFs to be produced and distributed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), according to the SMSF Association.

    SMSF Association Media Release

    The SMSF Association welcomes adjustments made by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to align their SMSF performance calculations more closely with the methodology used by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to calculate returns for APRA-regulated funds.

    Self Managed Super

    Adjustments to the ATO’s calculation of SMSF performance to further align with the methodology used to calculate returns for Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)-regulated funds have been welcomed by the SMSF Association, a week after it released its own performance data.

    Professional Planner

    The ATO will align SMSF performance calculations more closely with APRA-regulated funds after research found they were not being fairly compared.

    Cost of Operating SMSFs 2020 | Research

    Released in 2020, this research examines the size at which an SMSF becomes a viable option for those who are considering establishing an SMSF or are continuing to use an SMSF for their retirement savings.

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