The total number of establishments has decreased from 11,610 in the June 2012 quarter to 9,748 in the December 2012 quarter, then down to 5,840 in the first quarter of 2013, the report found.
Although establishments traditionally slow down in the March quarter, the number of new funds in the recent period was also significantly down on the 9,863 funds started up in the March 2012 quarter.
However, wind-ups have also dropped dramatically, from 3,251 in the June 2012 quarter to 62 in the March 2013 period. This has pushed the total number of funds over half a million for the first time, increasing from 477,461 to 503,320 in that period.
Jordan George, technical development and policy manager at SPAA, said “up and down” trends are not uncommon and there is no indication of a significant drop off.
“There is a bit of a fall in the establishments but I think looking at the long-term trend it’s still a growing sector,” Mr George said.
“Also, one of the things to have in mind is that the establishments often pick up in the final quarter of the financial year, as we enter tax planning and tax filing season. People often then choose to set up their SMSF and do their salary sacrificing tax planning at that stage of the year,” he added.
Establishments according to age ranges during the March 2013 quarter is dominated by the 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64 age ranges, at 22.0 per cent, 29.4 per cent and 22.4 per cent respectively, according to the report.
Mr Jordan said SMSFs will likely see establishment rates in the 45-54 age bracket increase and may also see an increase in establishment amongst the “Gen X-type” savers in the 35-44 demographic.
“As people are becoming more aware of the SMSF sector and the flexibility and control that it offers, I think people are probably starting to look at it as an option earlier in their savings lifecycle,” said Mr Jordan.
Similarly, AMP SMSF Administration managing director Andrew Hamilton told said that the age groups above 35 are beginning to take “considerable notice” of their superannuation.
“There is a large movement in the accumulators - people who have a accumulated superannuation who have still got 20 years until retirement - who are entering into that market place as well,” he said.