Jordan George is an industry leading speaker for the SMSF Association, and holds the title ‘Head of Policy’.
2018 was a tumultuous year for SMSFs with volatile investment markets and an even more volatile political environment giving SMSFs plenty to think about. However, as we move into the festive season, this is the ideal time to review your SMSF plan and consider what awaits in 2019. Taking some time to review and plan can help ensure your SMSF is on track to achieve your superannuation goals.
The key issue that will occupy the mind of most SMSF trustees is the imminent 2019 Federal election, expected in May, and the possible change to a Labor Government. We already know that the Australian Labor Party has announced significant policies impacting SMSFs.
The most substantial planned policy change is Labor’s proposal to end the refundability of franking credits. SMSFs that receive franking credits for the tax paid by Australian companies will often receive a refund of the tax paid at the corporate level.
SMSF trustees need to truly understand diversification and better diversify their portfolios.
The benefits of a well-diversified portfolio are numerous but the key ones that SMSF trustees should focus on are the benefits of mitigating volatility and short-term downside investment risks, preserving capital and the long-run benefits of higher overall returns. By spreading an SMSF’s investments across different asset classes and markets offering different risks and returns, SMSFs can better position themselves for a secure retirement.
Have you received a letter from the ATO entitled: Is your SMSF investment strategy meeting diversification requirements? If so, please read our article on what you must do.
However, did you know that 82% of SMSF trustees believe that diversification is important but in practice many do not achieve it?
This is because half the SMSF population cite barriers to achieving diversification. The top being that it is not a primary goal for SMSF trustees, and they believe they have a lack of funds to implement it.
Balance and contribution caps are just part of the new regime.
There have been dramatic changes in the past few years – and more this July – to the administration, reporting and compliance of self-managed super funds, and it’s crucial that an SMSF trustee is up to speed on how they affect their fund.
Below are some of the key changes to discuss with an SMSF accountant to ensure the fund remains compliant, avoids penalties and employs the best strategies to improve retirement outcomes.
1. The ins and outs of TBAR reporting
For some, the mention of TBAR recalls lifts gliding up snow-covered mountains. From an SMSF perspective, the acronym stands for Transfer Balance Accounting Reporting.
TBAR is an Australian Taxation Office event-based reporting initiative and part of a longer-term move towards real-time reporting. It came into effect on 1 July 2018 and in simple terms means that when you complete certain events in the SMSF they need to be reported to the ATO in defined timeframes.
Self-managed super funds have often been criticised for lacking diversification when it comes to their investments, specifically that SMSFs have too much in Australian shares and cash and not enough in international investments.
This criticism is somewhat unwarranted as SMSFs access international investments via Australian managed funds and ETFs. Research from Class Super shows that the underlying exposure to international equities across the top 20 managed funds and ETFs is 57% and 58% respectively (Source: Class SMSF Benchmark Report June 2016).
A large portion of SMSF trustees desire access to international investments, namely the US as the largest financial market in the world, however investing directly has traditionally been a costly and complex exercise. Trustees face a mountain of paperwork, complex forms and typically expensive trading fees.
Looking at trading fees, the cost to an SMSF to purchase AUD $10,000 of US stocks will be anywhere from $41 to $134 ($88 on average) per trade if conducted via the international broking solutions of the big four banks (Nabtrade,
Don’t let the title fool you, even if you are not a Millennial you may benefit from these fantastic apps. These tools could help you save for your first home, new car or your next holiday adventure. But most importantly, they can help you build your wealth which seems to be an area that millennials are struggling with the most.
GoodBudget is a budgeting app that allows the user to create a budget that is easy to stick to, making saving money a lot easier. GoodBudget uses a virtual form of the old envelope system where you put your money into an envelope for each expense and when an envelope is empty to stop spending. You start with a savings envelope then allocate funds to your expenses. You have planned your savings before your expenses so you don’t overspend.
GoodBudget comes with a free plan that includes 10 regular envelopes and can be used on 2 devices.
Australia has one of the highest levels of smartphone penetration in the world and there is an increasing array of very useful tools and apps freely available to help us manage all aspects of our financial lives.
In this article, I’m going to share the top 5 apps that can make managing your SMSF a breeze.
Macquarie Mobile Banking
A great bank account is central to every SMSF and all banks have their own dedicated smartphone apps. I am going to use the Macquarie Mobile Banking App as an example as the Macquarie’s award winning Cash Management Account (CMA) is the most popular for SMSFs.
Their app allows you to easily manage your Macquarie CMA and view your term deposits from the palm of your hand. It gives you a live feed on your cash balance and interest income and allows you to make immediate payments via BPAY or EFT.
If you are worried about how secure the app is,
Do you want to make your life easier, your superfund compliance easier and of course help make the administration of your superfund easier?
We go on and on about data feeds and the important role they play in your superfund’s administration and we are now finally starting to see this also flow across to the audit of superfunds.
How would you like to travel around and get on with life, not having to worry about being home or having internet access to be able to provide us with documentation for the completion and audit of your superfund accounts? This is finally possible!
Software company, Class Super, has spent plenty of time and resources into auditing the data feeds they receive so that other independent auditors can place more reliance on this data. This is fantastic news, as this has a flow on effect to you all as clients.
What exactly is Class Super?
Class Super Pty Ltd (Class) is used by Superfund Partners to prepare your SMSF accounts.
I was interested but not necessarily surprised to read two articles this week relating to financial fortunes of the general Australian population. The first article talked about financial literacy, where a study by Zurich and Oxford University found that Australia ranked near the bottom of the tables. In the second article, a study by the Actuaries Institute found that almost a third of Australians are in danger of running out of money because they are drawing too much out of superannuation.
With the percentage of Australians that do not currently seek any ongoing financial advice sitting at close to 80%, these reports should not be surprising to anyone. The risk of not achieving any long term goal without some form of coaching, mentoring or external direction is extremely high and it makes sense that those with a trainer, coach or in this case an adviser, have a far better chance of maintaining discipline and achieving their goals.
Why is it that so few Australians reach out for financial advice to help improve their financial literacy?
The end of the financial year is the perfect time to give your SMSF some love. The following are our top 10 pre-30 June items we believe every SMSF trustee should look at.
- Take your minimum pension!
- Maximise contributions
- Review your SMSF investments
- Pay any outstanding taxes or fees
- Valuations for EVERYTHING
- Update your SMSF trust deed
- Is it time for an SMSF trustee company?
Take your minimum pension!
If you are taking a pension from your SMSF, you need to make sure you’ve taken the minimum required amount before 30 June to enjoy all that juicy tax free income and refunds of franking credits!
Well, I can’t say that this year’s budget was my favourite, which I’m sure is a shared sentiment among a lot of our clients. Whilst I still believe that Superannuation is a great space and retains a high degree of tax advantages, there are some changes on the table that will affect quite a few people.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s break it down into the good and the bad:
- The work test has effectively been done away with. Up until now if you were over 65 and wanted to contribute you had to meet this test. From 1 July 2017, this will be no more. One less thing to provide at audit time as well.
- Low-income spouse rebate. This has been introduced as a measure to equalise spouse super accounts – namely women. It’s a $540 offset that phases out once the recipient’s income is $40,000.
- Another initiative for the low-income earner is the rebate on contributions tax if you are earning less than $37,000.