Media creating false narrative about SMSF industry
A question in a newspaper forum on retirement advice has sparked a furore and the follow-up media attention is creating a false narrative about the SMSF sector, says the sector’s overarching association.
The story, which appeared in a News.com.au publication and online, claimed a “pair of multi-millionaire retirees have infuriated struggling younger Aussies with ‘greedy’ questions”.
SMSF Association CEO Peter Burgess said the article only reinforces the common misconception that SMSFs are only for the rich or those approaching retirement, although the latest ATO statistics show 44 per cent of all SMSFs set up in the March 2023 quarter were established by individuals aged under 45.
The article claimed the 78-year-old man and his 79-year-old wife, who receive an account-based pension from their SMSF “were shockingly out of touch with the financial struggles most younger Australians currently faced”.
It continued that as of July 2017, the husband’s holding was $1,599,956 and his wife’s $675,590 – a combined total of almost $2.3 million.
“Their combined super funds are invested in Australian shares and give a ‘healthy return’ – however, in the years since 2017, some of their shareholdings have ‘more than doubled in value’, meaning the husband’s part of the SMSF was now ‘well over the $3 million limit which the government intends to bring in’,” the article continued.
Social media responses to the article spewed vitriol and included statements such as “What baffling capitalist greed …”
Another stated “I’ve always found this column loaded with whinging people who have too much money a real insult to general society. All they want to do is get free advice on how to rort the system when they can easily afford a financial advisor. Vile people.”
Mr Burgess said despite what the news article published, the growing number of younger individuals establishing SMSFs is not a new trend and is something that has been observed for over a decade.
“Clearly, an increasing number of younger super fund members are turning to SMSFs as their super platform for life,” he said.
“And the view that you need $500,000 or more to justify an SMSF has now been completely discredited by a growing body of evidence that shows, from a cost and investment performance perspective, an SMSF can be a suitable option for someone with a super balance as low as $200,000.
“But as we know an SMSF is not suitable for everyone and it’s important to note the research does support the regulatory focus on fund size as SMSFs with balances under $200,000 are likely to underperform compared to larger funds.”