SMSF Management: The Critical Role of Specialist Accountants

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Australia offers a unique kind of retirement fund trust vehicle called a self-managed super fund (SMSF) that provides Australians a distinct opportunity to exert direct control over their super finances. Of course, this also means they can take direct control of whatever goes wrong. As a consequence, there is a significant onus on the fund’s trustee (who also performs the function of accountant, actuary, and administrator) to do everything right. The only fail-safe route appears to be the engagement of a third party to play the precision and the scapegoat at the same time. Engaging an expert can work superbly on some occasions and go terribly wrong on others.

The Integral Role of an SMSF Accountant

The role of a self-managed super fund accountant is to handle the accounting, auditing, and compliance for a fund. This job is different from that of a regular accountant because there is something unique and often complicated about superannuation. Superannuation is a long-term savings arrangement with tax advantages. It is often said to be the second-most-taxed entity for Australians. Max has a compliant setup. He is fully on top of the often-changing superannuation laws and global accounting standards to make sure his fund stays above board. On a day-to-day basis, he works with his investment team to make sure all assets are valued correctly and that they are revalued adequately over time to ensure the actuarial-funding-sufficiency pyramid stays mason-hard. Max’s assistant prepares the accounts and the SMSF tax return.

Choosing the Best SMSF Accountant

Qualifications and Familiarity

When deciding on the most suitable accountant for your SMSF, a number of matters should be taken into consideration:

  • Ensure the accountant has actual qualifications in the area of superannuation, particularly in SMSFs. This could be in the form of a university degree, a college diploma, or some series of training modules. Ideally, look for a certified practitioner.

Services and Service Providers

  • Understand clearly what the accountant is actually going to do for you year on year (and maybe month on month). You need to appreciate that the work and the service the accountant provides you with can have a material impact on the overall tax position of the fund and your ultimate superannuation outcome. Remember — the buck stops with the trustee.

Assessing the Overall Package

  • Look for the best overall package and choose based on whom you think you’ll be able to work with, and work well with them. Again, score highly those who have already got…

Fee Structure

  • Understand the fee structure of the accountant for your fund and, ideally, have a clear understanding of what you may expect to pay each year, as a periodic fee constructed over 10 to 15 years is a real commitment.

When you hire an SMSF accountant who focuses on that type of accounting, you improve the overall management of your super fund. These specialists have ample experience and expertise in working with self-managed superannuation funds. Consequently, they ensure that your fund operates legally. Moreover, their knowledge of tax laws enables them to better carry out the strategic planning necessary to help your fund achieve its full potential in meeting your retirement goals.


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