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SMSF Checklist: how to Set up an SMSF

An SMSF is a superannuation fund where the fund members are also the trustees, meaning the members have direct control over the management and investment of the fund’s assets. 

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) regulates SMSFs, and they must comply with the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993. Individuals, companies, trusts, or partnerships can establish an SMSF. The trustees ensure that the fund complies with all relevant laws and regulations. Trustees must also act in the best interests of all members of the fund. 

SMSFs can offer several advantages, including greater control over investment decisions and lower costs. 

SMSF Checklist

Before setting up an SMSF, there are a few things to remember:

  • Make sure that you satisfy the minimum membership requirements. Typically you must have at least two members, though in some cases, you may be able to get by with just one.
  • Setting up and managing an SMSF is complex and time-intensive. It’s often beneficial to seek professional financial advice to ensure you’re making the best decisions for your retirement funds. An SMSF accountant can help you understand the nuances of managing your own super fund and ensure you’re in compliance with all laws and regulations.
  • Record each member’s tax file number.
  • Choose a trustee responsible for managing the SMSF and ensuring it complies with the law. These can be individual trustees or a corporate trustee.
  • Set up a bank account for the SMSF.
  • Set up an investment strategy. This will involve researching different asset classes and deciding how you want to allocate your assets. An SMSF can be a great way to save for retirement, but it is important to understand the commitment involved before deciding to set one up.
  • When setting up your investment strategy, consider the importance of diversification. Spreading your investments across various asset classes—such as shares, property, and fixed-interest investments—can help manage risk and potentially enhance returns. Proper diversification can protect your SMSF from market volatility and economic downturns.
  • Set up an exit strategy.
  • You must obtain an Australian Business Number and register the SMSF with the Australian Tax Office.
  • Trustees should also consider whether insurance should be held by the SMSF for its members. This can include life insurance, Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance, and income protection insurance. Including these can provide an additional level of security for fund members and their families.

What You’ll Need To Set Up an SMSF

When you have gone through your checklist and are satisfied to go ahead with setting up your SMSF, here is what you will need to get started:

  1. Your fund name.
  2. Fund members’ personal details; names, dates of birth, addresses and tax file numbers.
  3. Documents to identify yourself and each member of the fund, for example, a driver’s licence, national ID card or passport.
  4. If you are using a corporate trustee, you will need the name when you register the SMSF.
  5. Depending on your situation, you may also need to build a trust deed for your SMSF, which outlines how the fund will be managed. This is a legal requirement and essential for ensuring your SMSF complies with relevant laws and regulations.

Why Choose Griffiths Advisory for your SMSF?

Griffiths Advisory is your trusted SMSF accountant in Perth, committed to helping you understand the process so you can fully control your hard-earned funds. We guide you in monitoring super funds in the Australian shares market and eliminating unnecessary or hidden costs. Additionally, we assist in setting up loans within your SMSF for other investments.

At Griffiths Advisory, we don’t just help you set up your SMSF—we provide ongoing support. Contact us today to get started.

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Phil Griffiths

Phil Griffiths

Bachelor of Commerce
Certified Practising Accountant
Diploma in Financial Planning
Professional Certificate in SMSF
Approved SMSF Auditor

Phil has been the Managing Director of Griffiths Advisory for 29 years, combining his expertise in taxation, business advisory, superannuation, negative gearing, and wealth creation. He also loves an active lifestyle, indulging in surfing, cycling, snowboarding, and spending quality time with his wife and two children.