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  • Matt Heighway

It Takes a Village to Manage Your SMSF

When things are running smoothly for an SMSF, investments doing well, no compliance issues and minimal changes being made it would seem that who you have engaged as your Accountant or SMSF Administrator doesn’t really matter. However, things can change quickly with an SMSF and some changing circumstances can unravel a happy SMSF very fast, so it is important that your SMSF Administrator is aware of where to turn for expert help. The following are some examples of why it can take a village of professionals to ensure that an SMSF can achieve the outcomes you desire throughout its lifecycle and beyond.

Lawyers – to get it right first time or to help when you didn’t.

It still surprises us when we take over an SMSF that ultimate care is often not taken when it is established. Price (and margin for the accountant) is often the driver rather than ensuring that the legal structure and relevant legal documents are appropriate and validly executed. Legal documents should be prepared by Lawyers rather than acquired from cheaper online providers. We partner with an expert SMSF Lawyer who has seen what happens when things go wrong. Their SMSF documentation and process aims to avoid potential problems in the future.

The benefits of this partnership are seen best when an existing SMSF comes into our business with lost or incomplete permanent records. Being able to provide our clients with legal insight on the quality of their existing records and what is required to fix them if they need fixing brings great comfort to our clients. Most clients know the outcomes they are seeking and being able to understand how this is achieved and being able to easily put in place updated documents when their circumstances change is a vital adjunct to our service. If you’re not sure if your SMSF documents stack up, don’t leave it to chance hoping everything will be OK. SMSF Many lawyers will attest that things aren’t always OK, especially when you or your partner die and your member balance is up for grabs.

ATO – Voluntary disclosures

Due to the complexity around SMSFs, things do sometimes go wrong, and compliance breaches occur. For common breaches we can sometimes work with our auditor directly on a rectification pathway. But if neither our auditors or ourselves have seen the issue before and a pathway to rectification is not clear, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) can be the best place to turn to. Their SMSF early engagement and voluntary disclosure service provides a single-entry point for SMSF trustees and professionals to engage early in relation to unrectified contraventions and well before the SMSF is sent off for the annual audit. The key is letting us know as soon as you think a breach may have occurred. Save yourself time, money and excess worry by engaging with us immediately and letting us work with the auditor or the ATO to find the best rectification plan for your circumstances.

SMSF Auditor – Fixing breaches

An independent Auditor is the only professional that you are legally required to appoint. They are an important player in managing yourSMSF for several reasons:

  • They are gatekeeper for ATO and ASIC to ensure that SMSFs are managed for the purpose of funding retirement.

  • They improve the quality of work that accountants produce by ensuring compliance.

  • They work together with the Accountant, client and ATO to fix compliance breaches.

We work with an SMSF Registered Auditor who sits on various audit technical panels. These forums keep them informed of changes to the supporting documents that the ATO expects them to have on file so we can work with you to gather everything that is needed well before the lodgement due dates.

Financial Adviser – Changing strategies

At times you may want to seek our advice about certain aspects of your current SMSF structure or plans you are considering. Unfortunately, as the law currently stands, we are limited to providing you factual responses or recommendations limited to maintaining the complying status of your SMSF.

Under current laws, advice that is based on your personal circumstances can only be provided by a licenced financial adviser. If you choose to engage an SMSF Financial Adviser they should be able to guide you with specific personal advice at any point in your SMSF journey. If you want to minimise costs or have less complex advice needs, the digital advice option is gaining momentum.

Importantly, a Financial Adviser is best placedto assist with the development and implementation of your SMSF Investment Strategy. The SMSF’s Investment Strategy is a dynamic document and should change as you age and requirements change. This may be just simply changing your risk profile if you start a family or head into retirement, or it could be in response to life events such as illness or death. We have access to advice options to suit any needs you may have from help with the Investment Strategy to detailed strategic advice for the SMSF.

Aged Care Expert – reducing complexity.

A hot topic of conversation now, and other than death, arguably the most significant change of circumstance for an SMSF member, is when their health start deteriorating, and suitable care options need to be decided upon. The process can be complex, requiring assessments to be made that are beyond the expertise of most Accountants. Aged Care is becoming a niche area of advice helping to guide you through this process from determining care options available and funding these options, right through to assisting you complete forms and engage with providers and Centrelink. We can help you access skilled aged care experts when that time comes.

We are passionate about helping new and existing SMSF Trustees avoid unwanted outcomes. We do this by working with skilled professionals right from the start of an SMSF journey through to its end. We want you to confidently engage with your SMSF, knowing that our team and the other professionals we work with are right here to help you when you need it.

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