A straw poll has revealed a majority of SMSF practitioners believe the minimum pension rate for superannuation funds should be lowered.
An SMSF Adviser poll showed that based on the 306 votes received on 27 May 2015, 259 participants voted for the minimum rate to be lowered while 47 said it should not be lowered.
This represents an 85 per cent vote in favour of a lower rate.
Verante Financial Planning director Liam Shorte believes the rate should be lowered but not as a result of lower interest rates, an argument used by an industry lobbyist.
Instead, Mr Shorte said he would not want to see a knee-jerk reaction to the current minimum pension rate for superannuation funds but added that the rate does need to be reassessed given longer life expectancies and the increased costs of aged care in retirees' later years.
“We need to allow people to hold more money for longer, and not try and insist they spend the money now, when they will have those costs later on,” he said.
“If they can’t meet those costs, they’re going to have to be picked up by the tax payer.”
The current rate needs to be reviewed in line with life expectancies, said Mr Shorte.
With an increasing number of people with parents in their nineties or even their early hundreds, concerns around longevity are becoming more significant.
“It is a concern, especially for somebody who’s in their sixties now, looking at 30 or 40 more years,” he said.
“Most SMSF trustees have a well-diversified portfolio so the majority of them are receiving way more than the minimum at the moment, so it’s only the people who are overly skewed towards cash that are probably suffering.”
Adapt Wealth Management owner Reuben Zelwer, on the other hand, said the minimum pension rate for super funds should not be lowered as this could impact the integrity of the super fund income stream system.
The current system only requires super fund members to withdraw the money from their super fund and “doesn’t mandate that you need to spend it”, he said.
“Super fund[s] should be used for retirement as opposed to an estate planning mechanism and I think the minimum pension amounts allow for that,” he added.
Withdrawing the pension is not a significant issue for Mr Zelwer's clients since they have sufficient liquidity within their funds to make the required withdrawals.
“I guess where it is an issue is where you’ve got lumpy assets like property, especially low-yielding property – then it can be more of a problem,” he said.
Most of the questions his clients have are in relation to contributing money back into their SMSF rather than making withdrawals, Mr Zelwer said.
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