Positive outlook for growth of SMSF sector
With greater numbers of young, highly engaged super members looking to access greater control by way of an SMSF, the outlook for the sector is strong, according to a panel of experts.
Speaking at an SMSF Association thought leadership breakfast this week, Investment Trends’ head of research Dr Irene Guiamatsia said although the average age of SMSF members remains high at around 60 years of age, SMSFs are being established at a younger age, boding well for long-term growth.
“For this cohort, the main driver for growth remains the desire for control. Early exposure of Millennials and Gen Z to digitally delivered financial services reinforces control as an important component of their engagement with service providers,” said Dr Guiamatsia, speaking at the breakfast presented by Class.
“Also, Australians’ well-documented bias towards direct property as an asset class, and their desire to access it, helps stoke SMSF establishments.”
She also noted that supply side factors such as low-cost initial setup, greater synergies between accountants and adviser practices and a slightly software regulatory posture will also play a role in further propelling the sector.
Heffron managing director Meg Heffron said younger people will end up with larger balances at the same life stage than older generations and are also more engaged.
“So, the fact that SMSFs are perfectly suited to be someone’s ‘platform for life’ makes them well positioned for the future,” she said.
Ms Heffron also pointed out that a strong SMSF sector is important for the whole super system.
“SMSFs drive innovation that eventually trickles through to the broader superannuation space. We only have to look at the great improvements retail funds have made when it comes to offering investment choices to see how competitive pressure from SMSFs improves super choices for everyone,” said Ms Heffron.
SMSF Association deputy chief executive Peter Burgess said research by actuarial firm Rice Warner into costs, and the University of Adelaide into performance, have demonstrated the SMSF sector’s competitiveness on reaching the critical mass of $200,000, which will hopefully be a key driver of growth.
“This research is already having an impact with ASIC releasing updated SMSF Advice materials late last year removing references to $500,000 as being the minimum recommended balance to start an SMSF,” said Mr Burgess.
“Ensuring SMSF members do the right thing is critically important and having access to quality SMSF advice is a big part of that.
“If we get this right the sector can achieve its full potential, but if we get it wrong we may see restrictions and conditions imposed that could stifle the growth of the sector.”