Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) are pretty cool. The only things cooler are whiskey bars, having a fourth child, or family trusts.
I was recently having a chat with a doctor. He had immigrated to Australia and was working in a successful practice. He had just set up a self-managed super fund. I presumed he was on good coin. Even so, it seemed strange that a self-managed super fund would be the right choice for him. I asked him how much money he had in the fund (accountants are allowed to ask inappropriate questions like that). His answer: none. I asked him why he had decided to set up an SMSF. His answer: “I heard a lot of people talking about them so I asked my accountant if I could have one”.
His accountant said “yes”.
Some not-so-good reasons to set up an SMSF
- I want to get everything I can on this great little mining stock.
- I don’t want some wanker that drives a (insert preferred wanker car here) playing with MY MONEY.
- My accountant told me I could have one.
- The world economy is about to collapse and I want all my money in cash. It is fine if that is what you want. You don’t need to set up an SMSF to do it.
- I am thinking about setting up an SMSF to purchase a property. I’ll just go ahead and set one up now and let my money sit there for a couple of years until I get around to buying something.
Reasons for starting an SMSF
- Purchasing a commercial property to run your business from.
- This is one of my favourite strategies. It is great to be your own landlord.
- You can also sell a commercial property you already own to an SMSF.
- You are not allowed to transfer a residential property you own to your SMSF or live in a residential property your SMSF owns (even if you pay rent).
- Purchasing property
- You can purchase residential and business property in an SMSF for investment purposes. You can also borrow to do so.
- Investing in assets you might not be able purchase in public funds
- All listed shares and trusts, some unlisted shares and trusts, property and collectibles
- That’s right you can invest in art, stamps, coins or even vintage motorcycles. There are very strict rules (you can’t ride the motorcycle). And please, please, please only do this if you know what you are doing.
- You want to actively manage share or other investments
- If you are really interested in managing your own investments then an SMSF might be right for you.
- Warning: you have to be really interested in managing your investments. If you think you might get bored with it after a few months, it is not for you.
- If you have large super balance (maybe)
- The proportional cost of running an SMSF comes down the higher the amount of money in the fund. A fund can have up to four members.
- Many commentators state that you should have at least $200,000 in a fund before you set up an SMSF (which could be the combined balance of a few members).
- That does not mean that if you have $200k in your fund you should start an SMSF.
- You should only start an SMSF if you have a good reason and then consider the cost of running the fund as a percentage of the funds balance.
- “Action changes attitude faster than attitude changes action”
- I stole that line from Adam Ferrier’s book, The advertising effect: how to change behaviour, and I use it often, because it is true.
- I have spent many hours of my life talking to my clients about the merits of super. Despite the fact that it is a tax haven and that it can bring the tax rate on income down from 50% to 15%, many people just don’t trust it.
- Not always, but often, I see people’s attitude to super change when they establish an SMSF. They are much more likely to make additional contributions and take an interest in their super. After all, it is often one of the largest assets you own.
An SMSF can be a great estate planning, tax minimisation and investment tool. If you are thinking about one just to keep up with the Smythe-Joneses, than I suggest the snow trip will be a lot more fun.
Over the last 20 years, PRS Partners have helped a lot of people start, run and shut-down self-managed superannuation funds.
- Think an SMSF might be right for you,
- Have an SMSF and are wondering whether it is still right for you, or
- Have an SMSF and are not sure whether you are getting the best advice
Give us a buzz, or drop by for a coffee. We love meeting new people.
- If you run a small business or you’re interested in marketing I wholeheartedly recommend Adam Ferrier’s book.
This information has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs.