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Fresh warnings over ‘free’ SMSF set-ups

21 November 2014 — 1 minute read

As free SMSF set-up offers continue to flood the marketplace, one industry body has reminded trustees about the lack of transparency and potential hidden costs that can be associated with these services.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand’s head of superannuation Liz Westover described a “bells and whistles” free SMSF set-up offer circulating the market, which includes free administration and audit for a number of years.

However, she noted the fine print suggested the service provider was “most certainly” being remunerated with a potentially significant amount.


“While there is no upfront fee, you have to use a compulsory transaction bank account. Fees charged on these and other deposit accounts range from 0.2 per cent up to 1.15 per cent of the account balance. Furthermore, you must open a default share trading account for which they collect a fee per trade also. There are also commissions paid to the provider on insurance and loans. An annual fee is also applied at the end of the free introductory offer period,” she said.

“Although the selection of investment classes that the trustees can invest in while using this service is reasonably wide there are still a number of exclusions: no collectables, private companies or trusts or wrap accounts. Apparently, this is to help keep administration and audit fees down.”

Ms Westover questioned whether prospective trustees fully understand the level of fees they could be paying for “free” providers.

“While I knew to look at the Financial Services Guide (FSG) to find out the real fees, most trustees may not know to do this! The fees section of the website certainly didn’t outline these commissions and only provided a link to the FSG. The average fund balance now exceeds $1 million. Even at a fee of 0.5 per cent, this still adds up to annual fees of $5,000. At the full 1.15 per cent rate, fees add up to $11,500 and that’s without conducting any trades. It suddenly doesn’t look so cheap anymore.”

Fresh warnings over ‘free’ SMSF set-ups
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