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Understanding SMSF trustee responsibilities

Self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees have onerous duties and responsibilities in relation to the management of their fund.

An SMSF trustee primarily needs to ensure the fund is properly managed for the benefit of members for their retirement.

All trustees must ensure the fund assets are held in trust and invested on behalf of the members. Trustees need to ensure their fund complies with all super rules including super laws and the fund’s trust deed.

Trustees must regularly review and update the fund’s trust deed and investment strategy in accordance with the law and the needs of the SMSF’s members.

Another responsibility is to accept contributions and paying benefits (income streams and lump sums) in accordance with super laws and the fund’s trust deed. Trustees must also advise the Tax Office of any changes in trustees, directors or members within 28 days of the change taking place.

SMSF trustees also have the duty of undertaking various administrative tasks such as lodging annual returns and record-keeping, as well as ensuring an approved SMSF auditor is appointed for each income year.

Where a conflict arises between your wishes as a member and your legal responsibilities as a trustee, you must comply with your trustee obligations. For example, if a relationship breakdown occurs between members, you must continue to act in the best interest of all members at all times and in accordance to the trust deed and with super laws.

It is also critical to keep fund assets (including money) separate from your personal and business assets. Fund assets should be solely used for fund purposes.

Finally, trustees are reminded that member benefits (money or other assets) cannot be accessed earlier than what is legally permitted (generally, until a member reaches preservation age). Member benefits can only be accessed in very limited circumstances, i.e., severe financial hardship and so on.

Remember, contravention of any of the super laws can result in significant penalties, including fines and jail terms.

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Understanding various kinds of super fees

February 16, 2018

No matter the kind of superfund you opt for, you will be subject to super fees. Understanding how these fees work and the difference they can make to your next egg is vital.

When it comes to superfund fees, there are two factors you need to get your head around; the kinds of fees you are being charged and the rate of fees you pay. Opting for a superfund based on these two factors can see you retire with hundreds of thousands more money.

You should be aware of the various types of fees you are being charged. If you would like to find out the fees you are being charged, you should do two things. Firstly, Google your fund’s product disclosure statement and scroll through to the fees section. You should see a list of different types of fees, with an explanation of what they are, how they are applied, and how often they will be incurred. Secondly, you should log in to your superfund account and take note of all the fees being charged to you. Investigate how closely these correspond and correlate with the product disclosure statement.

If you feel there are discrepancies, do not hesitate to contact your superfund or financial advisor and ask for clarification. It is worthwhile doing your research and comparing the fees you are being charged against other super funds and what they charge. Being complacent and not paying attention to your super is extremely irresponsible; the dividends you will receive later in life for being diligent now outweighs the burden of taking time to be informed today.

Some of the common super fees across the board include:

Another major factor contributing to how much you accumulate in your super account throughout your working life is the rate of fees you pay. Plain and simple, some funds offer much lower fees than other, creating a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars when it comes time to retire.

Generally, funds are categorised into three groups; low super fees, medium super fees and high super fees. Ultimately, you want to be in a fund that charges low super fees. In saying this, it’s not only about super fees, as some funds have medium-high super fees but also perform better based on investment strategy, meaning you will get more back from your investments.