A self-managed super fund (SMSF) is a superannuation fund that has the members (or a company with the members as directors) as the trustee. The responsibilities of a super trustee are varied and complex, with the main aim of ensuring the fund stays compliant and is used for the sole purpose of creating wealth for retirement. There are serious tax implications for not abiding by the superannuation regulations and that requires a more hands on approach. This is why many people will prefer an ‘off the shelf’ or retail super fund, leaving the trustee responsibilities to an unrelated third party.
Having said this, there are many benefits of a SMSF, least of all, control over your retirement savings. The points below describe some of the main components of a good SMSF.
A SMSF can have up to 4 members. Practically this means additional family members can participate in the benefits of the fund. It must be noted however that there are strict rules around membership and trusteeship of a SMSF so please seek our advice before adjusting the membership of the fund.
Pre-retirement and Retirement Income Streams
A good SMSF trust deed will allow the fund to offer both pre-retirement income streams (often referred to as Transition to Retirement Pensions) and retirement income streams (whether in the form of an Account Based Pension or via the purchase of an annuity).
A SMSF has a number of advantages over a typical retail, industry or employer superannuation fund. These include:
- A self-managed super fund allows you to control all aspects of the fund investments, and you are not restricted to the options available in a menu. You may also implement a range of gearing or capital protection strategies within the fund.
- Equity investments often generate franking credits. In superannuation structures other than a SMSF, franking credits are generally pooled and so the benefit is spread across the entire fund membership, irrespective of their tenure or investment strategy in the fund. In a SMSF, these franking credits are attributable directly to the relevant members.
- Investment purchases and redemptions can be best timed to generate the optimal capital gains tax result.
- Contributions and earnings tax are only payable at year end, thus enabling investment earnings to accrue on those amounts until they become payable. This contrasts with other funds that often deduct the tax at the point the contribution is made, or must make quarterly tax payments.
- A self-managed super fund provides you with the ability to better control CGT consequences when selling fund assets. It also allows you to delay the payment of earnings and contributions tax to the end of the year. Retail funds typically pay their tax quarterly.