Several key super changes which may impact your ability to contribute to your SMSF, are set to take effect from 1 July 2022. These changes create opportunities for all SMSF members, young and old, to grow their retirement savings.
What are the changes?
Originally announced in the 2021 Federal Budget, the following changes apply from 1 July 2022:
How can you benefit from these changes?
This year’s Federal Budget cost-of-living relief, job growth and women’s security. The key measures that you should be aware of as an SMSF trustee are outlined below. Should you wish to discuss how these may impact your personal circumstances or retirement plans please contact me to arrange a time to chat.
Extension of the temporary reduction in superannuation minimum draw down rates
The Government has extended the 50 per cent reduction of the superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products for a further year to 30 June 2023. The minimum drawdown requirements determine the minimum amount of a pension that a retiree must draw from their superannuation in order to qualify for tax concessions.
Given ongoing volatility, this change will allow retirees to avoid selling assets to satisfy the minimum drawdown requirements.
Digitalising trust income reporting and processing
The Government will digitalise trust and beneficiary income reporting and processing, by allowing all trust tax return filers the option to lodge income tax returns electronically, increasing pre-filling and automating ATO assurance processes. The measure will commence from 1 July 2024, subject to advice from software providers about their capacity to deliver.
Trust income reporting and assessment calculation processes have not been automated to the same extent as individual or company tax returns, resulting in longer processing times and limited pre-filling opportunities. This measure will reduce the compliance burdens on SMSF trustees (taxpayers), reduce processing times and enhance ATO processes. The Government will consult with affected stakeholders, tax practitioners and digital service providers to finalise the policy scope, design and specifications.
New research released
When used in the right circumstances a self-managed super fund (SMSF) can provide important benefits for individuals looking for greater levels of investment flexibility and control over how their super savings are invested.
New research released by the University of Adelaide shows an SMSF may be a suitable option for individuals with lower superannuation balances than previously thought.
In its report, titled “Understanding self-managed super fund performance” the University of Adelaide used data from over 318,000 SMSFs between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2019, to identify the minimum amount of capital required for an SMSF to achieve comparable investment returns with much larger funds.
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Setting up an SMSF can be complicated. Not getting it right can materially affect your financial situation and retirement plans.
The first question you need to be sure about is whether an SMSF is the right fit. Seeking specialised financial advice can help you determine this answer. Some considerations include:
You must ensure you have an appropriate superannuation balance before considering an SMSF. While a low balance can be a red flag, it is not always a barrier to entry. Establishing an SMSF with a small balance may not be in your best interests. This is because SMSFs tend to be more cost-efficient with larger balances. Therefore, before rolling over your superannuation balance to an SMSF, you should establish and justify that by doing so you are likely to end up in a better position in retirement.
You must also understand your motivation for establishing an SMSF. The most common motivation SMSF trustees indicate is control. Control of an SMSF allows individuals to have a wide range of investment choice, flexibility and engagement with their superannuation. However, superannuation law is complex and you need to ensure your ambitions are allowed under the law and will be able to achieved in an SMSF.
Costs and time
SMSFs incur a wide range of costs in establishment and the day to day running of the fund. Ensure you are across the estimated establishment, accounting and audit costs that will be incurred by your SMSF. Speak with your advisers so you are across all other incidental costs, which unlike large super funds generally occur with fixed rates rather than as a proportion of your balance.
SMSFs also require dedicated attention from trustees which will take time out of your daily life to manage. Understanding from the outset your legislated responsibilities and obligations before establishing an SMSF is important.
Once you have decided that an SMSF is right for you, the process of establishing the fund can commence. A Specialist SMSF adviser is the best person to help you with this process which generally involves choosing a trustee structure, selecting a trust deed, completing the ATO registration, opening a unique fund bank account, getting an electronic service address and arranging for rollovers to the fund to occur.
Investment Strategy and Insurance
Upon establishment you must also create an investment strategy which must be regularly reviewed.
Your investment strategy should be in writing and must consider:
• Diversification (investing in a range of assets and asset classes).
• The liquidity of the fund’s assets (how easily they can be converted to cash to meet fund expenses).
• The fund’s ability to pay benefits (when members retire) and other costs it incurs.
• The members’ needs and circumstances (for example, their age and retirement needs).
• Whether to hold insurance in your SMSF.
It is also common for SMSF trustees to be motivated by investing in property when establishing an SMSF. You should be sure that any investment in property, particularly when gearing is involved, is appropriate for your circumstances. Holding properties in an SMSF can also require some complex structures to ensure the law is being followed and specialist advice may be needed before making an investment choice. A lack of diversification, low balances and inappropriate property investments can have a detrimental impact on your retirement savings.
How can we help?
If you are considering an SMSF, please feel free to give me a call to arrange a time to meet so that we can discuss your particular requirements and circumstances in more detail.
SMSF trustees need to truly understand diversification and better diversify their portfolios.
The benefits of a well-diversified portfolio are numerous but the key ones that SMSF trustees should focus on are the benefits of mitigating volatility and short-term downside investment risks, preserving capital and the long-run benefits of higher overall returns. By spreading an SMSF’s investments across different asset classes and markets offering different risks and returns, SMSFs can better position themselves for a secure retirement.
However, did you know that 82% of SMSF trustees believe that diversification is important but in practice many do not achieve it?
This is because half the SMSF population cite barriers to achieving diversification. The top being that it is not a primary goal for SMSF trustees, and they believe they have a lack of funds to implement it.
Furthermore, 36% of SMSF trustees say they have made a significant (10%) asset allocation change to their SMSF over the last 12 months. This demonstrates that SMSFs may not be actively restructuring their portfolio on an annual basis to respond to changing market conditions.
Another clear problem regarding diversification is the amount of SMSFs with half or more of their SMSF invested in a single investment. SMSF trustees say they primarily invest in shares to achieve diversification in their SMSF, while just a quarter say they invest in at least four asset classes to achieve this.
The bias and significant allocation to domestic SMSF equities conversely may highlight the fact that SMSFs are not adequately diversified, especially across international markets and other asset classes.
So what can you do?
Some of the steps you, with the help of an SMSF Specialist, can take to diversify your retirement savings and control your investments in a disciplined and planned way include:
Always remember to document your actions and decisions, as well as your reasons, and keep them as a record in order to demonstrate that you have satisfied your obligations as a trustee.
Given the importance of having an appropriately diversified portfolio and its impacts on quality of life in retirement trustees ought to consider professional assistance in managing this important aspect of an SMSF.
How can we help?
If you need assistance with diversification with your fund, please feel free to contact us so that we can discuss your particular circumstances in more detail, or refer to the SMSF Association Trustee Knowledge Centre.
You may be aware that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has issued letters to nearly 18,000 SMSF trustees as part of a campaign to ensure trustees are aware of their investment obligations.
Of key concern is ensuring that trustees have considered diversification and liquidity of their assets when formulating and executing their fund’s investment strategy.
Importantly, it must be noted that the ATO letters are not an attempt to regulate and limit the control and freedom that SMSF trustees have but rather ensuring that if trustees wish to invest their assets in a certain way that they must clearly articulate their reasons for doing so.
An investment strategy should be considering the SMSF’s blueprint when dealing with the fund’s assets to ensure the SMSF’s investment objectives and members’ goals are met. It provides the parameters to ensure you invest your money in accordance with that strategy. This is where the ATO has a primary function to ensure that trustees act in accordance with these obligations.
An SMSF investment strategy must take into account the following items:
An important requirement for you as trustee of your SMSF is to have an investment objective and a strategy to achieve that objective in place, before you start to make decisions about how you want to invest your SMSF money.
Of equal importance is that the investment objective and strategy is not set in stone. You can choose to change the investment objectives you have set for your SMSF at any time.
It’s not uncommon for SMSFs with lower member balances to find diversification a challenge as there is limited money to invest. Nonetheless, you are still required to demonstrate that you adequately understand and mitigate the associated investment risks.
If you find yourself in this position, it is important your investment strategy reflects these risks.
For example, if you have invested in a large illiquid asset such as real property which may form the majority of your fund, it is timely to ensure your strategy reflects the concentration and liquidity risk associated with this investment.
Where you have in place an adequate investment strategy that deals with these risks and can provide the necessary evidence to support your investment decisions, no further action is expected.
Where your fund has not complied with its investment strategy requirements under superannuation law, you may be liable to administrative penalties being imposed by the ATO, as Regulator of the SMSF sector.
Your investment strategy does need to be reviewed at least once a year and this will be evidenced by your approved SMSF auditor. It is also important to review your strategy whenever the circumstances of any of your members change or as often as you feel it is necessary. The following practical tips will help you keep on top of your obligations:
SMSFs are not for everyone, but for those individuals where an SMSF is entirely appropriate for them, the benefits can be considerable.
In the context of ongoing public debate regarding the appropriate minimum size for an SMSF, new research has been provided to provide insights into the true costs of running an SMSF. And the research shows SMSFs are cheaper to run than many people may think.
The findings allow SMSF trustees and potential SMSF trustees to compare appropriate estimates of fees for differing SMSF balances with institutional superannuation funds (commonly referred to as APRA regulated funds).
The costs include establishment, annual compliance costs, statutory fees and some investment management fees. Direct investment fees have been excluded.
SMSFs with less than $100,000 are not competitive in comparison to APRA regulated funds (SMSFs of this size would generally only be appropriate if they were expected to grow to a competitive size within a reasonable time).
SMSFs with $100,000 to $150,000 are competitive with APRA regulated funds (SMSFs of this size can be competitive provided the Trustees use one of the cheaper service providers or undertake some of the administration themselves).
SMSFs with $200,000 to $500,000s are competitive with APRA regulated funds even for full administration. (SMSFs above $250,000 become a competitive alternative provided the Trustees undertake some of the administration, or, if seeking full administration, choose one of the cheaper services).
SMSFs with $500,000 or more are generally the cheapest alternative regardless of the administrative options taken. (For SMSFs with only accumulation accounts, the fees at all complexity levels are lower than the lowest fees of APRA regulated funds).
This research highlights that SMSFs with a low complexity can begin to become cost-effective at $100,000. This is a significant departure from what many had believed to be the case. For simple funds, $200,000 is a point where SMSFs can become cost competitive with APRA regulated funds or even cheaper if a low cost admin provider is used. With the proposed expansion to six member SMSFs, we may see many more take up this option at this threshold.
Comparing 2 member funds
From a cost perspective, the real benefit of an SMSF is when it achieves scale in balance and this can occur when members pool their superannuation savings. The below comparison can be used to grasp the ranges you might fall into.
|Combined Balance||SMSF Compliance Admin (2 members)||APRA regulated fund Low fees (2 members)|
But it’s more than cost
When determining whether an SMSF is right for you, your analysis must go further than just a simple comparison of the costs versus APRA Regulated Funds. It should also factor in your retirement and income goals and whether you have the desire, time and expertise to take on the role of an SMSF trustee. It’s also worth factoring in SMSF members may not receive the same level of protection in the event of theft or fraud that members in APRA regulated funds do.
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The Government has, on the 2nd September 2020, introduced a Bill into the Senate that will increase the maximum number of allowable members for SMSFs from four to six. This measure was first announced in the 2018-19 Federal Budget.
The Explanatory Memorandum explains that this change will help large families to include all their family members in their SMSF.
If passed by Parliament, the changes are to commence from the start of the first quarter (being the first 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October) that begins after the day the Act receives Royal Assent.
We now wait to see if the Bill has support from the ALP and cross-benchers. We will provide further updates and developments as they are announced.
Explanatory Memorandum: https://parlwork.aph.gov.au/Bills/s1269?_cldee=YmhlcGJ1cm5yb2dlcnNAZ21haWwuY29t&recipientid=contact-2270291ec278e61180d1000d3ad070fe-780c82f8f5a149cbb0b8586ac5544025&esid=ad55eb36-e2ec-ea11-a815-000d3acae753
Alert issued from the SMSF Association.