SMSF Accountant Melbourne
What is an SMSF Accountant
In order to understand what an SMSF Accountant is, you must first understand what SMSF is. Self Managed Superannuation Fund, or more commonly known as a Self Managed Super Fund is a superannuation trust structure developed as a pension for members and their beneficiaries upon retirement.
What separates an SMSF from other super funds is that an SMSF member is also the trustee of the fund. These funds are formed with one to four members who have full control of how the fund is managed. As opposed to other super funds designed to manage large groups, and the interest of a large group, an SMSF can be managed to the specific needs of individual members.
With this type of a super fund, SMSF, there are two trustee structure options:
- Corporate Trustee: In this structure a company will act as trustee, while each member will manage the SMSF as a director.
- Individual Trustee: Each member of the SMSF is a trustee
Regardless if a corporate or individual trustee is used, the responsibility of the trustee will remain the same. Trustees are responsible for:
- – Implementing, and maintaining an investment strategy for the fund;
- – Administratively manage the fund. This will require strict adherence to requirements governing SMSF management, such as maintaining records, providing financial statements, completing tax records, and organizing an independent audit.
Trustees and Superannuation Laws
In addition to required actions of the trustee, superannuation laws require that trustees maintain a level of ethical standards commiserate with the industry, which include:
- – Honest representation of actions and all matters concerning the fund;
- – Acting responsibly, diligent, and in the best interest of the fund and all of the fund’s members;
- – Ensuring fund assets are kept separate from the trustees’ personal assets;
- – Inform and maintain full-disclosure of fund, fund activities, and changes to all members.
Due to the administrative requirements, it is common for trustees to seek advice, or consult, an SMSF specialist, often an accountant.
SMSF accountants tend to be the primary source for advice on the development, implementation and management of super funds.
While an SMSF Accountant is often called upon for advice, it is important to note that, without an Australian Financial Services License (AFSL), an accountant cannot provide financial information and are significantly restricted on what advice they can provide. Advice which an SMSF accountant Melbourne can provide is:
- Taxation advice and tax services
- Accounting advice and services
- SMSF administrative advice and services
- Compliance with laws and regulations regarding SMSFs
Essentially, accounting services and advice can be provided, but the accountant cannot provide any financial advice or suggestions which may lead a trustee to act upon such information.
While the practice of offering financial advice along with accounting services has been abused in a variety of degrees since the inception of super funds, it is considered a highly unethical practice, and one in which both the SMSF accountant, and trustee or directors can face significant consequences financially, or on a personal level.
Considering the complications and requirements a trustee faces in managing a SMSF it is highly recommended to seek a SMSF accountant with accredited training and qualifications. It is also important to realize the importance on whether or not your SMSF accountant is qualified to offer financial advice in managing a super fund.
Consequences for Unlawful Trustee Actions
Consequences for a trustee not properly managing a fund are managed by the Australian Taxation Office and can result in education direction, administrative penalties required of trustees and directors, trustee disqualification, and up to civil and criminal penalties based on the degree of mismanagement.
An SMSF accountant is specially trained to assist in legally and ethically managing these funds.