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Drop in trustee numbers tipped amid advice, reform sagas

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Miranda Brownlee
15 March 2017 — 1 minute read

The increasing costs associated with obtaining SMSF advice and the legislative changes to super will see a decline in the number of SMSF trustees over the next two years, one consultant believes.

JWW Consulting founder John Wiseman says the limited licensing regime has increased the costs and fees associated with running an SMSF for many trustees. As a result, there may be a migration back to the industry and retail super funds.

While some SMSF trustees choose to set SMSFs up for the purposes of having greater flexibility and control over finances, there is a group of trustees for whom fees and costs are very important, Mr Wiseman said.


This is particularly the case for SMSF trustees who had previously never paid for financial advice.

“These are the trustees that are in for a real shock,” Mr Wiseman said.

He said the take-up of financial advice by accountants is a lot lower than expected, with SMSF clients now having to be referred to financial advisers for advice they previously received at a cheaper cost from their accountant.

“Accountants can no longer talk to clients about setting up an SMSF and do it cheaply. They’ve got to send the client somewhere else where it might cost the client $2,000 or $3,000 to obtain a trust deed,” Mr Wiseman said.

At the same time, there’s been a drop in financial advisers servicing this area and many of them have been forced to increase their fee structures due to litigation risks and the cost of compliance.

“Their PI insurance [costs] is increasing and the level of compliance and regulation is getting out of control, Mr Wiseman said.

“[Financial advisers] are going to be looking at their services and thinking, ‘What am I going to make out of this and what is the potential for litigation?’.”

The reduction in the concessional caps could also have an impact on the number of SMSFs because it may restrict the types of assets they can invest in.

“Are you going to put $25,000 into super per year to buy a property? You’ll be putting $25,000 in for the next 30 years before you can afford to do that with the current caps,” Mr Wiseman said.

“It’s not going to be easy [to have an SMSF] and it’s going to cost more, and whoever they go to see will show them a comparison of prices.

“I think SMSFs are here to stay but the numbers will be dropping off a bit.”

Mr Wiseman said there may only be a tail end drop off this year, but when trustees receive an expensive bill for the second time next year, there will be a more substantial decline.

“This year, you’ll see the obvious SMSFs go to industry funds or retail funds, [smaller balance] SMSFs, but the bigger ones might take a little bit longer.”

Miranda Brownlee

Miranda Brownlee


Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.

Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates. Miranda has also directed SMSF Adviser's print publication for several years. 

Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.

You can email Miranda on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Drop in trustee numbers tipped amid advice, reform sagas
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