One of the benefits of establishing or opting for an SMSF is due to the control they are given over where the money is invested. While this sounds enticing, the downside is that they involve a lot more time and effort as all investment is managed by the members/trustees. They are also often the targets of fraud and scams.
Firstly, SMSFs require a lot of ongoing investment of time:
- Aside from the initial set-up, members need to continually research potential investments.
- It is important to create and follow an investment strategy that will help manage the SMSF – but this will need to be updated regularly depending on the performance of the SMSF.
- The accounting, record keeping and arranging of audits throughout the year and every year also need to be conducted up to par.
- Data shows that SMSF trustees spend an average of 8 hours per month managing their SMSFs. This adds up to more than 100 hours per year and demonstrates that compared to other superannuation methods, is a lot more time occupying.
Secondly, there are set-up and maintenance costs of SMSFs such as tax advice, financial advice, legal advice and hiring an accredited auditor. These costs are difficult to avoid if you want the best out of your SMSF. A statistical review has shown that on average, the operating cost of an SMSF is $6,152. This data is inclusive of deductible and non-deductible expenses such as auditor fees, management and administration expenses etc., but not inclusive of costs such as investment and insurance expenses.
Thirdly, investing in an SMSF requires financial and legal knowledge and skill. Trustees should understand the investment market so that they can build and manage a diversified portfolio.
Further, when creating an investment strategy, it is important to assess the risk and plan ahead for retirement, which can be difficult if one is not equipped with the necessary knowledge. In terms of legal knowledge, complying with tax, super and other relevant regulations requires a basic level of understanding at the very least.
Finally, insurance for fund members also needs to be organised which can be difficult without additional knowledge.
Although SMSFs have the advantage of autonomy when it comes to investing, this comes at a price. Members/trustees need to invest time and money into managing the fund and on top of this, are required to have some financial and legal knowledge to successfully manage the fund.
SMSF Fraud Alert
The ATO is also warning of an increase in Self Managed Super Fund identity fraud and scams targeting the retirement savings of individuals. This is something to be aware of if looking to start an SMSF and maintain it.
These fraudulent perpetrators use stolen identity information or may harvest information from individuals by cold calling the victim and presenting themselves as superannuation experts.
They typically offer superannuation comparisons and/or high-return investment options through the establishment of a fraudulent SMSF. Remain vigilant, and remember that if you are dealing with an advisor for the benefit of your SMSF, you should check to see if the advisor is listed on ASIC’s Professional registers or Moneysmart’s list of unlicensed companies you should not deal with.