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ASIC’s view on SMSFs as ‘one-stop property shops’

The Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) has released a new report highlighting its view on the setup of SMSFs for property investments using ‘one-stop shop’ models.

‘One-stop shop models’ tend to promote the purchase of residential property through SMSF borrowing. They are usually arranged by groups of real estate agents, developers, mortgage brokers, financial advisers and so forth.

This model creates conflicts of interest that may affect the advice given to set up an SMSF. For example, these businesses take advantage of customers with limited or no knowledge of SMSFs or super and have the potential to cause major financial detriment, including:
– Receiving inappropriate or misleading advice to set up an SMSF which may result in members being financially worse off
– The obligations of a SMSF trustee are not clearly explained by the advice provider
– Members may be encouraged into a property purchase at an inflated value, or unaware of undisclosed high commissions.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) are encouraging individuals to seek independent professional advice from a licensed adviser before establishing an SMSF and undertaking an new investment in an SMSF.

SMSF trustees who make a mistake are also encouraged to make a voluntary disclosure to the ATO. The ATO aim to help SMSF trustees in these circumstances to get their SMSF back on track.

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Self-managed super funds (SMSF) aren’t just about financial investment

December 3, 2020

Individuals may be looking to opt for an SMSF because these provide entire control 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.

Firstly, SMSFs require a lot of on-going investment of time:

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 fee, management and administration expenses etc., but not inclusive of costs such as investment and insurance expenses.

Thirdly, investing in 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.