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ATO figures show shift towards shares by SMSFs

Miranda Brownlee
30 June 2020 — 1 minute read

Total SMSF assets increased by 7.8 per cent during the 2019 calendar year, with SMSFs increasing their exposure to listed shares and slightly reducing the amount of assets held in cash.

According to the ATO’s SMSF quarterly statistical report for December 2019, total net Australian and overseas assets held in SMSFs jumped from $657 billion at the end of December 2018 to $708,191 in December 2019.

Borrowings by SMSFs also increased slightly from $23.28 billion at December 2018 to $25.1 billion by the end of 2019.


The ATO statistics also indicate that SMSFs increased their exposure to shares during the 2019 calendar year. Total SMSF assets held in listed shares increased almost 20 per cent from $184.6 billion in December 2018 to $221.4 billion in December 2019.

The amount of SMSF assets held in overseas shares also rose, with overseas shares increasing by 19.9 per cent, from $7.3 billion at the end of December 2018 to $8.8 billion at the end of 2019.

Residential and non-residential property assets both saw a small increase, with both asset types increasing by 0.8 of a percentage point.

There was a slight reduction in the amount of assets held in cash and term deposits across SMSFs, with SMSF assets held in cash falling around 1 per cent from $152.4 billion to $151.2 billion at the end of last year.

The total number of SMSFs and SMSF members both increased over the 2019 year. At December 2019, there were an estimated 594,163 SMSFs and 1,115,822 SMSF members in total.

Net establishments for the December quarter were fairly steady at 4,426. This was a slight increase from the 3,628 net establishments in the December 2018 quarter.

The ATO noted that establishments and wind-ups for recent quarters in their report may be understated because there is a time lag between when the event occurs and when the ATO receives notification from the SMSF.

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.

ATO figures show shift towards shares by SMSFs
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