Is an SMSF For you?

Some people want the control that comes with managing their own super, but taking control means being responsible for managing your retirement funds which will involve significant time and effort.

SMSFs can be suitable for people with a lot of super and extensive skills in financial and legal matters.

You must understand your legal responsibilities and the investments you make because even if you employ professionals to help you, at the end of the day you are still the one responsible.

What is a self managed super fund (SMSF)?

An SMSF is a private superannuation fund you manage yourself, regulated by the Australian Taxation Office. SMSFs can have up to four members. All members must be trustees (or directors if there is a corporate trustee) and are responsible for decisions made about the fund. If you have an SMSF, you are responsible for managing it and complying with all relevant laws.

SMSFs are different from mainstream funds regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) which pool members’ savings and invest the money for them.

How self-managed super funds work

SMSFs are a legal tax structure with the sole purpose of providing for your retirement. SMSFs are regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

A self-managed super fund can have one to four members. Each member is a trustee (or director if there is a corporate trustee).

Running your own fund is complex. When you run your own SMSF you must:

  • Carry out the role of trustee or director, which imposes important legal duties on you
  • Set and follow an investment strategy that ensures the fund is likely to meet your retirement needs
  • Use the money only to provide retirement benefits
  • Keep comprehensive records and arrange an annual audit by an approved SMSF auditor.


If you decide to set up an SMSF you are personally liable for all the decisions made by the fund even if you get help from a professional or another member makes the decision.

If you’re running a self-managed super fund  you will typically need:

  • A large amount of money in the fund to make set up and yearly running costs worthwhile
  • To budget for ongoing expenses such as professional accounting, tax, audit, legal and financial advice
  • Enough time to research investments and manage the fund
  • The financial experience and skills to make sound investment decisions
  • To organise life insurance, including income protection and total and permanent disability cover.

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