Professional Planner and the SMSF Association report this week some encouraging findings – “The latest set of ATO statistics on self-managed super funds (SMSFs) draw a glowing picture of health of the largest superannuation sector, says SMSF Association CEO/Managing Director Andrea Slattery.
The report, titled Self-managed super funds: A statistical overview 2013-14, says “the continuing strength and community confidence in the SMSF sector is demonstrated by positive shifts in SMSF numbers, total assets and member account balances over the five years to 2014. Changes in the composition of SMSF asset portfolios show the ability of SMSFs to adjust to changing circumstances and economic conditions.”
In the five years to 30 June 2014, the average assets of SMSFs grew 23% and reached more than $1 million for the first time in 2014. Likewise, average assets per member increased to $564,000, the highest over the period. The sector now accounts for 29% of the $2 trillion in superannuation assets.
Slattery says: “As the peak body in the SMSF space, it is reassuring for the sector to get such a positive endorsement from the regulator. In particular, what was the stand-out comment for me was the ATO’s saying that ‘changes in the composition of SMSF asset portfolios show the ability of SMSFs to adjust to changing circumstances and economic circumstances’. [In the 12 months to 30 June 2014, SMSFs, on average, returned 9.8% and for the past five years showed positive returns.]
“Considering these numbers are drawn over a five-year period, hopefully it will put to rest that old chestnut that says trustees are out of their depth in today’s volatile markets. The recent report by CommSec, which showed trustees moved quickly to take advantage of the recent downturn in the Australian equity market, is just further evidence of their capacity to handle their investment portfolios.
“It also demonstrates, I believe, the quality of specialist advice that is now available to trustees, and their growing propensity to take heed of that advice.”
Slattery says another positive trend to emerge from the report was the growth in members in new SMSFs to come from younger age groups, with the median age of SMSF members falling under 50 years of age.
“It’s always been our contention that there should be no age or asset barrier to entry to an SMSF, a position upheld by the both the Cooper Review (2010) and Financial System Inquiry (2014).
“What these numbers show is that younger people are taking this opportunity to set up an SMSF and be more engaged in their retirement savings, a trend that should only be encouraged as they are setting out earlier in their working lives to ensure they are self-sufficient in retirement – the prime goal of our compulsory superannuation system.”
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