Marginal issues distracting SMSF industry

Too much time and attention is focused on the tax and regulatory issues of the SMSF sector while the investment strategy of SMSFs is being neglected, according to the former ATO assistant deputy commissioner.

Speaking on the back of his speech presented at the Taxpayers Australia book launch of the Ultimate SMSF Trustee’s Guide, McPherson Super Consulting director Stuart Forsyth said there was an excessive focus on ‘problems at the margins' when SMSF trustees should instead be devoting their attention to the investment within their SMSF.

“I fear that we spend too much time talking about tax and regulatory issues in the sector and not enough time focusing on investing within the SMSF itself,” said Mr Forsyth.

“In the end, SMSFs are about investments – they’re not about tax and regulatory.”

Mr Forsyth said regulation merely “provides the context” while tax is “really about the yield on investments”.

“[The SMSF sector] seems to be in a healthy state and even with areas such as limited recourse borrowing arrangements it’s a relatively small number of funds and compared to total assets under management a relatively small borrowing,” he said.

“Once again there’s a lot of noise about some of these things but when you actually sit down and look at the figures, you see the sector is in pretty good shape – [these marginal issues] take up a lot of time and attention.”

Mr Forsyth said there is also a lot of discussion around tax and wealthy individuals.

“It seems every paper has something about superannuation concessions,” he said.

“Logically you provide tax incentives for people who pay the most tax, the top 10 per cent of tax payers, [and they’re] the ones more likely to take advantage of the tax concessions – it’s not rocket science.”

Mr Forsyth said while he was not trying to belittle the problems of the SMSF sector he said “there are a lot of SMSFs run by people who have developed skills in this area and care about their retirement”.

“The reality is that most trustees take their responsibilities seriously,” he said.

 

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