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Keeping your SMSF compliant while overseas

Travelling overseas for an extended period of time is an exciting adventure. What isn’t so exciting is the prospect of breaking compliance laws in relation to your SMSF while enjoying your trip.

There are specific conditions that must be met to deem the self-managed super fund ATO compliant. They are as follows:

Fund recognised as an Australian fund
The SMSF will be recognised as an Australian super fund provided that the setup of and initial contributions are likely to have been made and accepted by the trustee(s) in Australia or at least one of its assets is located in Australia.

Management and control of the fund carried out in Australia
The central management and control of the fund must ordinarily be in Australia. This means the SMSF’s strategic decisions are regularly made, and high-level duties and activities are performed in Australia. Some examples include formulating the investment strategy, reviewing the performance of the fund’s investments and determining how assets are to be used for member benefits.

Generally, fund’s will meet this condition even if its central management and control is temporarily outside Australia for up to two years. If central management and control of the fund is permanently outside Australia for any period, it will not meet this requirement.

Active member test
An “active member” is a contributor to the fund or contributions to the fund have been made on their behalf.

To satisfy the “active member test” trustees should ensure the fund has no active members, or it has active members who are Australian residents and who hold at least 50 per cent of the total market value of the fund’s assets attributable super interests, or the sum of the amounts that would be payable to active members if they decided to leave the fund.

If a member of the fund becomes a non-resident but still wishes to make or receive contributions, they should do this outside of their SMSF, i.e., through a retail or industry super fund. When they return as an Australian resident, they can then rollover the contributions to their SMSF.

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Managing risk in your SMSF

October 12, 2018

SMSFs provide the trustee autonomy and an increased opportunity to maximise your retirement savings. However, an investment strategy must be accompanied by a risk management plan should some of your investments come up short.

Consider the following risk management strategies:

Diversification
Diversification reduces risk by investing in many different assets including property, annuities and equities. By spreading your earnings across several investments you minimise the risks to your retirement nest egg that can occur if one investment suffers a loss or a disappointing return. Organise your target returns according to your asset class and establish the accepted variation range from this target. This allows you to track your investment portfolio and whether it is setting you on the right financial path.

Liquidity
If you tie up your money in assets like property, then you may run short on cash. It is important that you have cash to cover the costs of running your SMSF and in the case of a member’s total and permanent disablement. If you’re also forced to sell an asset to get this cash the market conditions may not be ideal, and you could receive a disappointing return because you need cash in a rush.