If you operate or are a member of a self-managed super fund, you might be familiar with the SMSF Association, which seeks to ‘lead the professionalism, integrity and sustainability of the SMSF sector’. The association states it focuses on:
- Improving the standard of advice provided by SMSF professionals
- Enabling SMSF trustees to make better and more informed decisions regarding their retirement
- Improving the “credibility and health” of Australia’s SMSF sector
What does the SMSF Association do?
As an independent professional body, the SMSF Association plays an important role in advocacy for the SMSF sector. It seeks to participate in the public discussion surrounding the superannuation system, aiming to achieve positive outcomes for SMSF trustees and members.
The SMSF Association says it has been “directly involved” in the following:
- The introduction of measures which improved the flexibility of superannuation
- Raising super contribution caps to $35,000 and subsequently maintaining them at a higher-than-before level
- The improvement of ethical and professional standards for financial advisers
- Keeping limited resource borrowing arrangements as an investment option for SMSFs
- Keeping SMSFs accessible as an option for everyone regardless of age or means
- Reducing the harshness of penalties for excess contributions
- Making superannuation laws more stable
The SMSF Association also provides education resources for trustee members, as well as professional development for financial advisers and other specialists providing advice to SMSF trustees.
I’m a SMSF trustee – what can the SMSF Association do for me?
If you’re a trustee of a SMSF, you can join the SMSF Association. To find out whether this is something you’d like to do, as well as access more information about SMSF Association membership, you can visit the Trustee Knowledge Centre. There you can find information addressing any general questions you might have, as well as articles and resources addressing recent developments in the SMSF sphere which may affect you. You can also visit the general Resource Library to access “news and information, events, education, technical papers, research, government submissions and more”.
What are the SMSF Association’s policy positions?
The SMSF Association clearly lays out its policy positions and opinions on its website.
The objective of superannuation
While the SMSF Association agrees for the most part with the Financial Systems Inquiry’s conclusions regarding the goal of superannuation, it stresses that any stated goal of the superannuation system should “include a notion of adequate retirement incomes”. Furthermore, it says the primary goal of the system should be “to provide income in retirement to substitute or supplement the age pension, delivering a financially secure and dignified retirement for Australians.”
Taxation of superannuation
The SMSF Association believes if superannuation is to be taxed, the extent to which it is taxed should not either interfere with the system’s long-term objective of providing a sufficient income in retirement or discourage individuals from making contributions to their superannuation. It believes that tax concessions are needed “to compensate people for locking away their money in superannuation for long periods of time.”
The SMSF Association supports raising the minimum education standards for financial advisers, as well as making sure advisers are constantly improving their knowledge and skills, and remaining compliant with a professional code of conduct.
Superannuation fund borrowing
The SMSF Association believes there is little evidence to support the idea that borrowing in superannuation has led to excess risk within the superannuation system. While it sees a role for limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBAs) for superannuation funds, it encourages SMSF trustees looking to utilise a LRBA to obtain professional advice before doing so.
Superannuation red tape
The SMSF Association views red tape within the superannuation system as a disincentive, and as such is “working with Government” to reduce it.
The SMSF Association views SMSF auditors as the “gatekeepers” of the SMSF system and therefore believes it is essential these auditors are appropriately skilled and qualified in order to maintain the strength and integrity of the SMSF sector.