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Who does what for an SMSF?

SMSF Accountant or Administrator


Your Accountant prepares the Financial Statements in accordance with Accounting Standards and if they are also the Tax Agent, lodges your SMSF’s Annual Income Tax Return with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). In most cases your Accountant will be your only contact. It has become common for Accounting Firms to outsource part or all of this function to an SMSF Administrator who will prepare the Financial Statements at a wholesale price.


Your Accountant can provide some guidance on what happens in your SMSF. This is limited and policed by Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) who provides licencing to Financial Advisers.


Things to consider:


  • The SMSF Accountants role has become more limited in respect to SMSF with better data processing technology. Check your fees to make sure you are getting value for money

  • Accountants can only provide limited advice to you about your SMSF unless they are licenced by ASIC

  • Your Accountant may be using a cheap offshore SMSF administrator to prepare the Financial Statements and Tax return. This should be disclosed in your engagement agreement with them but it may not always be obvious to you.

  • Your Accountant doesn’t have to choose your Auditor, Lawyer, or Actuary



SMSF Auditor


As a Trustee you are required to have your SMSF audited each year before the Income Tax return can be lodged. The Audit can’t be done by just any Accountant. An SMSF Audit must comply with Australian Auditing Standards and the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act and it must be completed by an ASIC registered SMSF Auditor.


The are two parts to the audit. The first, Part A, is where the auditor give an audit opinion on the whether or not the Financial Statements are in accordance with the applicable reporting framework and free from material misstatement. A material misstatement might be something like an Asset that is under or over-valued by an amount considered material. Materiality is generally 5-10% or $30,000, depending on the type of Asset or Liability. If the Auditor concludes that there is a material misstatement they will qualify Part A of the Audit report. This is reported to the ATO on the Income Tax Return.


The second or Part B or the Audit Report is where the Auditor provides an opinion on whether or not the SMSF has played by the rules outlined in the SIS Act. Again, if the Auditor concludes that the SMSF has materially breached any of the sections of the SIS Act that they are required to check, they will qualify Part B of the Audit Report and this must be included on the Income Tax Return. In addition, the Auditor may have to lodge an Auditor Contravention Report with the ATO with the details of the breach and what rectifications have been made to fix the breach.


It is important to note that whilst it is common practice in the SMSF Industry for the Accountant to arrange the Audit on behalf of the Trustee, it is the Trustee that must sign the Audit Engagement letter and has the direct relationship with the Auditor. As Trustee you can choose your own auditor and can switch Auditors as you wish. If, however an Auditor detects a breach during an audit and you then choose to halt the audit, the Auditor still has a responsibility to report that breach to the ATO if it is material.


Things to consider:


  • Audit fees can range from $150 to $1,500.

  • Some Audit businesses do send the auditing work to centres overseas

  • An SMSF Auditor must meet strict independence rules and cannot be involved in preparing the Financial Statement or giving the trustee advice


SMSF Lawyer


Whilst it is possible to create and execute the documents required to establish your SMSF as well as for certain events such as starting a pension without the assistance of a Lawyer, using a Specialist SMSF Lawyer for all of the legal documents required to run your SMSF is best practice. An SMSF Lawyer will consider you circumstances as a whole when writing the documents, whereas, if you are purchase these documents from an online provider this will not be the case. Whilst using a lawyer may cost you more in the short term, ensuring that you will not end up with unwanted outcomes in the future will likely save you thousands of dollars.




If a member of an SMSF moves from accumulation phase into retirement phases whilst other member or members remain in accumulation phase then, an actuarial certificate will be required to determine what percentage of the SMSF’s income is taxable unless assets have been segregated to specifically fund the pension. This certificate will be required each year until all members are in retirement phase. It is usual practice for the SMSF Accountant to organise for an Actuary to prepare the Actuarial Certificate


Financial Adviser


If you need advice on what to invest inside your SMSF, you need to speak with a licenced Financial Adviser. Your Accountant or SMSF Administrator can help you make sure that your investment doesn’t breach any rules and advise you what types of investments an SMSF can make but they can’t recommend specific investments unless they are also a licenced financial adviser. A licenced Financial Adviser can assist an SMSF Trustee with:


  • Investment advice

  • Investment implementation

  • Preparation of Investment Strategy

  • Ongoing SMSF advice and support


Mortgage Broker


If you are looking to purchase a property via a Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement (LRBA) you will need to seek out a Broker that is licenced to do SMSF lending. There are mortgage broking businesses that specialise specifically in SMSF Loans. LRBA’s can be complex to set up so it is best practice to speak with a specialist that has experience with this structure.

Lifetime SMSF provides cost effective and personal SMSF administration services direct to SMSF Trustees. Find out more here.

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The information contained in this website is purely factual in nature and does not take account of your personal objectives, situation, or needs. The information is objectively ascertainable and, therefore, does not constitute financial product advice. It is not intended to be financial product advice, legal advice, or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is provided for the use of a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund Trustee or a person who has already made the decision to establish a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund only. In no circumstances, is it to be used by a person for the purposes of making a decision about establishing a Self- Managed Superannuation Fund. Lifetime SMSF Pty Ltd is not licensed to provide financial product advice under the Corporations Act 2001. If you require personal advice you should consult an appropriately licensed or authorised financial adviser. Liability limited by a Scheme approved under the Professional Standards Legislation.


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