Call to arms for specialist SMSF advisers

30 August 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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Financial advisers are being urged to expand their skills with specialist self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) training.

Quarterly APRA data shows there was $876 billion held in SMSFs as of the end of June 2023, up 3.9 per cent from $843 billion at the end of June 2022. 

With over 1 million people being a member of an SMSF, SMSF Association chief executive Peter Burgess said advisers are needed to help ensure people understand the ins and outs of being an SMSF member.

According to the ASX Australian Investor Study 2023, the median SMSF size is $1.04 million compared to $132,000 for non-SMSF investors although the average is $1.77 million. 

In terms of holdings, it noted SMSF investors overwhelmingly favour Australian shares with 73 per cent investing in the asset class, compared to 57 per cent of non-SMSF investors. Their other top investments are residential investment property (41 per cent), term deposits (32 per cent) and ETFs (27 per cent). 

Points of differentiation with non-SMSF investors include a higher level of investment in listed investment companies, real estate investment trusts, and commercial property. 

SMSF investors are also more likely to base their decisions on professional advice (19 per cent) than their non-SMSF investing counterparts (12 per cent). 

"The feedback we are getting from our SMSF specialist advisers is that they cannot keep up with the demand for specialist SMSF advice – they simply don’t have capacity to service them all,” said Burgess.

“We know an SMSF is not suitable for everyone, so it’s critically important existing SMSF members and prospective SMSF members have access to specialist SMSF advice,” Burgess noted.

Through working with other professionals throughout the SMSF process such as accountants and stockbrokers, this could also form a referral network for the adviser for future clients, Burgess said.

To help with training, the association has released updated education modules which underpin the 
SMSF Specialist Advisor (SSA®) and SMSF Specialist Auditor (SSAud®) accreditation programs. It has also added ‘drop-in’ sessions online with its technical team to help students develop a deeper understanding of technical issues as they prepare for the exam.

“Our SMSF accreditation programs are also well-suited to aspiring young professionals in supportive roles, seeking to accelerate their journey towards becoming accomplished SMSF specialists or auditors,” Burgess explained.

Earlier this year, education provider Kaplan Professional said SMSF specialisation is one of its fastest-growing and most popular courses. Its programs include an introduction to SMSF up to a Masters in Financial Planning with an SSA designation. 

It has specifically worked with the SMSF Association on an SMSF elective subject FPE020 SMSF Regulations and Taxation, which provides eligibility to apply for the SSA designation. 
 

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