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[av_heading heading=’Setting up a self-managed super fund’ tag=’h2′ link_apply=” link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” style=’blockquote modern-quote modern-centered’ size=’6vw’ subheading_active=’subheading_below’ subheading_size=’20’ margin=’0′ margin_sync=’true’ padding=’0′ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#000000′ av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” av_uid=’av-k9nlxwai’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=’rgb(34, 34, 34)’]
What you need to know to set up a self‑managed super fund
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Setting up your SMSF is not just about taking steps to get your fund started.  You will need to make important decisions about how to structure and run your fund.  Remember, the purpose of setting up your SMSF is to provide for your retirement. 

We recommend you seek professional advice before setting up your fund.  However, this introduction will help you make sure you have covered the essentials by:

It also contains a series of checklists at the end to:

Even if you use a professional adviser to help you set up your fund, you are still responsible for making sure it is done correctly.  The ATO regulates SMSFs.  All other super funds are regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
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What it means to be a trustee

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When you set up an SMSF, you take on the role of either a:

A trustee is a person or company that holds and invests the fund’s assets for the benefit of members. As a trustee or director of a corporate trustee, you will be responsible for running the fund and making decisions that affect the retirement interests of each fund member, including yourself. You must comply with the super and tax laws to make sure your fund is entitled to tax concessions and your members’ interests are protected.

You must also:

Being a trustee gives you the opportunity to actively manage your own super and make your own investment choices, but it also brings responsibilities. All trustees and directors of a corporate trustee are equally responsible for managing the fund and making decisions – even if one trustee takes a more active role in its day‑to‑day running.

As a trustee, your duties and responsibilities include:

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Preparing to set up your fund

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You will need to choose the best way to structure your fund so it complies with the law and suits your and the other members’ circumstances.

Once you have decided to set up an SMSF you need to:

 Structuring your fund

For your fund to be an SMSF it must meet several requirements under the super laws. The requirements can vary depending on whether your fund has individual trustees or a corporate trustee. Some additional rules apply to funds with only one member (see below).

If your fund has individual trustees, it is an SMSF if all of the following apply:

If your fund has a corporate trustee, it is an SMSF if all of the following apply:

Members who are under 18 years old are under a legal disability and cannot be trustees of a super fund.
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Single member funds

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It is possible to set up your super fund with only one member.

If your single member fund has a corporate trustee, the member must be one of the following:

If you choose not to have a corporate trustee, you must have two individual trustees.

One trustee must be the member and the other must be a trustee that is either:

 Types of trustees

Once you understand how you can structure your fund, you need to decide on the trustee structure you will use. You can choose either of the following:

A corporate trustee is a company incorporated under the law that acts as a trustee for the fund. If you already have a company, you may choose to use it as trustee, as long as it meets the same requirements for members and trustees. Your choice of trustee structure will make a difference to the way you administer your fund and the types of benefits it can pay, so make sure it suits your circumstances.

When making your decision, we recommend you:

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Table 1: Trustee structure

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Setting up your fund Individual trustees Corporate trustee
Establishment costs The fund can be less costly to establish as you do not have to set up a separate company to act as trustee. It can be more costly to set up the fund initially as you need to establish a company to act as trustee (if you do not already have a company). For more information about what is involved in setting up a company, visit the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) website at asic.gov.au
Single member funds You can have a single member fund but only if you have a second individual trustee (that is, you cannot be the only trustee). You can have a single member fund if either: the member is one of only two directors of the corporate trustee and the other director is not an employer of the member director, or  the member is the only director (sole director) of the corporate trustee (company).
Governing rules Trustees must follow the rules in the fund’s trust deed and super laws Directors of the corporate trustee must follow the rules in the: 

  • fund’s trust deed 
  • super laws 
  • company’s constitution and Corporations Act 2001 (administered by ASIC).
Ongoing administration and reporting Individual trustees Corporate trustee
Administration The fund has fewer reporting obligations and can be simpler to administer. Having a corporate trustee can make it easier to:

  • administer the ownership of fund assets
  • keep the assets of the fund separate from any personal or business assets.
Reporting As a trustee, you must: 

  • appoint an independent auditor to audit the fund’s operations each year 
  • lodge a Self-managed super fund annual return (SMSF annual return) for the fund 
  • pay an annual supervisory levy to the ATO.
You will have the same requirements as an individual trustee, plus as a director of the corporate trustee, you have reporting obligations to ASIC. You also must pay an annual review fee to ASIC.
Changes to trustees and members Fund assets should be held in the name of all individual trustees as trustees for the fund. If there is a change in trustees, you need to: change the name on the ownership documents (such as a title deed) for each fund asset and notify all relevant authorities/registries. This process can be time-consuming and costly if your fund owns many assets, such as a wide range of shares. Fund assets should be held in the name of the company as trustee for the fund. If there is a change in directors, you do not have to change the name on the ownership documents for each fund asset (as the trustee is still the same).
Single member funds If your fund has two trustees and one leaves or dies, you must appoint another trustee in their place for your fund to continue to be an SMSF. If the company has two directors, and one leaves you do not have to replace them (a corporate trustee can have a single director). The trustee does not change if a member or director leaves the fund.
Reporting If there is a change in trustees or members, you must notify the ATO within 28 days. If there is a change in trustees or members, you must notify the ATO within 28 days. If there is a change in directors, you must:

  • notify the ATO within 28 days 
  • report the change to ASIC within 28 days.

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Disclaimer: This is general information only and is subject to change at any time. Your complete financial situation will need to be assessed before acceptance of any proposal or product. The Content provided herein has been prepared for informational purposes only. The Content does not constitute tax, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek tax, legal or accounting advice before acting or relying on any Content.

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