Self-Managed Superannuation Funds


How to review your SMSF investment strategy

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Super law sets out some requirements that trustees of regulated super funds need to consider when formulating an investment strategy.

These requirements include (but not limited to) the composition of investments, risk and return, liquidity, insurance and the ability to pay liabilities (including member benefits) as they become due.

Looking first at the composition of investments, there isn’t a requirement that SMSF investments must be diversified, and there are some SMSFs that have large investments in a single asset or asset class.

Most commonly this occurs where the SMSF has a direct property investment, with a comparatively smaller investment in cash in order to make relevant payments as necessary.

Whether or not this approach is right is a question for the trustees of each SMSF to determine for themselves, but the old saying of “not putting all your eggs in one basket” is worth considering.

Using this example, what would happen if the property market was to fall? Do you have enough time to ride out fluctuations and get your money back? This points to the next consideration of risk versus return.

With any investment decision, a consideration of the risk involved in a particular investment balanced against the potential returns or reward should probably be undertaken. Of course, these are both forward looking.

History may tell us a little about the risks and returns for particular investments over a period of time, but there are no guarantees about what will happen in the future.

This is why it’s usually important for SMSF trustees to spend some time making an assessment of these important characteristics.

However, it is unlikely that a consideration of risk and return is just limited to the actual investments themselves. Often the best starting place is what the SMSF trustee’s risk and return parameters are.

If the market was to fall by 10 per cent, how long would they be willing to stay invested in the same asset to recover the capital?

This can help determine how much risk the SMSF trustee is willing to take on. And this consideration may not be about a particular investment, but rather the composition of all the assets in the SMSF.

How much to allocate to growth assets (which usually have higher risk) compared to how much to invest in more stable investments (which are generally subject to less volatility).

Risk may only be one side of the equation – return may be equally as important to consider. In fact, given one of the key objectives of super is to grow wealth towards retirement, generating an appropriate level of return is important, and invariably involves taking on some element of risk.

Another requirement may be liquidity and the ability to pay liabilities as and when they fall due.

There is no doubt that you need to be able to pay for the ongoing running costs of your SMSF, but consideration of liquidity takes on heightened importance as members approach retirement.

With super used to fund members’ retirement lifestyles, the need to ensure there is sufficient liquidity is arguably more important, and will involve a consideration of how much should be held in cash (or other liquid investments) and how much should stay invested in less liquid investments to provide for future potential growth in the SMSF.

SMSF trustees are also required to consider the insurance needs of members in formulating the investment strategy.

Given that quite often the trustees of an SMSF are also the members of the SMSF, this is about considering whether you have sufficient insurance of your own, and if not, whether you should acquire more cover through your super.

Depending on the type of investments in your SMSF, you should also consider if you need the fund to take out other types of insurance. This could be an important consideration if you hold property.

So what makes a good SMSF investment strategy? It’s likely one that aligns to the future goals of the members (the trust deed should cover this) and what they are trying to achieve, and ensures this is done with appropriate consideration of the risks in achieving these goals. It should also comply with super legislation and the sole purpose test.

Source: BT


Investment strategies for your superannuation

By | Investments, Self-Managed Superannuation Funds, Superannuation | No Comments

Your superannuation returns may be doing ok, but could they be better?  Being actively involved in how and where your superannuation is invested, could make a real difference to your retirement savings over the long-term.  This article considers four examples of investment strategies for your superannuation.

The importance of diversification

Before we discuss the various investment strategies, it’s important to highlight the significance of diversification.  Like any type of investment, spreading your super across different types of investment options, can help to build a strong portfolio and manage risk.

Why? Because if you were to invest all of your super into one asset class such as property, your investment may suffer a loss if the property market was to fall in value. However, if you spread your money across multiple assets, you may have a different result.

Investment strategy type 1: Growth

If you don’t think you’ll be accessing your super for at least 10 years or more, a growth strategy may work for you as a longer timeframe may help an investment portfolio withstand volatility while aiming for returns.

A growth strategy that follows a higher risk, higher return approach tends to have a larger focus on assets that are exposed to capital appreciation. That is, investing in assets which are expected to grow at a higher rate than the industry or overall market.

For instance, this may involve an investment of around 70-85 per cent in shares or property with the rest in fixed interest and cash-based investments.

Historically, over any 20-year period, a growth strategy has delivered better returns than more conservative portfolios which would mainly be invested in fixed interest and cash.   However, over a short-term period, you may experience significant losses as a result of market volatility.

Another key benefit of a growth strategy is that by making greater returns on your investment, your savings are more likely to keep up with the rising cost of living. This is arguably important because over time inflation may reduce the value of your retirement savings, which could make it difficult to maintain your standard of living when you’re retired.

Investment strategy type 2: Balanced

Similar to a growth strategy, if you aren’t planning to access your super anytime soon, opting for a balanced investment portfolio may be another option.

This strategy is aimed at balancing risk and return so your portfolio has enough risk to provide reasonable returns, but not enough to cause significant losses.

A balanced strategy typically involves investing around 60-70 per cent in shares or property, with the rest in fixed interest and cash-based investments.

Investment strategy type 3: Conservative

A safe or conservative strategy follows a lower risk, lower return approach so it’s really about preserving the value of your investment portfolio. While there may be less risk of losing money, a downside could be that your returns may not keep up with inflation. For example, this could involve investing around 20-30 per cent of your super in shares and property, with the rest in fixed interest and cash-based investments.

Investment strategy type 4: Ethical and sustainable

You may choose not to invest in certain companies based on ethical grounds. For example, taking a stance against investing in firearms. This approach is called ethical or socially responsible investing.

There is also sustainable investing which goes beyond incorporating just ethical and social factors. That is, it approaches investing from an environmental and governance lens too. Some super funds now offer this, so if these factors are important to you, speak to your super fund for more details.

Review your investment approach

Revolution Financial Advisers can help you to review your current investment approach with your super fund or SMSF to consider how it aligns with your goals and risk comfort.

Source: BT

Incorporating alternative investments in an SMSF

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It’s no secret a diversified portfolio may help to protect your wealth from market ups and downs.

Including investment alternatives in your self-managed super fund (SMSF) may therefore provide additional diversification.

But what exactly are alternatives and what can they do for your portfolio?  We take a closer look under the hood to find out more.

How alternatives could fit within your self-managed super fund

Alternatives cover a very wide range of asset classes that could be incorporated within your self-managed super fund, should you choose to.  Their performance, as well as associated risks, can differ greatly.

As the name suggests, alternative investments fall outside of the traditional asset class sectors of shares, listed property, fixed income and cash.  Broadly, the different types of alternative investments include:

  • Commodities – which cover a wide range of assets such as live cattle, wheat, corn, soybeans, gold bullion, copper, aluminium, oil and coffee;
  • Infrastructure – covers services essential for communities such as airports, roads, power, hospitals and telecommunications;
  • Private equity – investments in unlisted companies that offer the prospect for increases in shareholder value.  Also known as “venture capital”, which is an early stage private equity investment;
  • Hedge funds – which aim to protect investment portfolios from market uncertainty, while providing positive returns during both upward and downward trends in the market;
  • Real assets – Direct property such as retail or commercial premises or facilities;
  • Other direct investments, such as artwork and antiques.

The benefits of alternatives in a self-managed super fund

The main attraction of alternatives is that they tend to be less correlated to the major asset classes of equities, bonds, property and cash.

Correlation refers to the relationship between the returns of two different investments.  For example, if two different assets move in the same direction at the same time, they are considered to be highly correlated.  On the other hand, if one asset tends to move up when another moves down, the two assets are considered to be uncorrelated.

So in periods when traditional markets trend downwards, allocations to alternatives may not move in the same direction, or may even move in the opposite direction which can potentially provide an extra layer of diversification for your self-managed super fund.

Importance of diversification in a self-managed super fund

The importance of diversification for self-managed super investors was highlighted in research conducted by Investment Trends and the Self-Managed Super Fund Association, where just one in five advisers considered their self-managed super fund client portfolios to be well diversified.

In addition, 64 per cent of self-managed super fund advisers acknowledged even a portfolio of 30 individual stocks many not provide sufficient diversification – particularly when combined with a strong bias of investing domestically.

And the drawbacks

While alternatives can be an attractive diversification method, they also carry some risks. In addition, as they’re often not traded on an open market such as the ASX, it may be more difficult for investors to sell these investments and cash out.  But just like any investment, the potential for a higher return or complexity of the investment strategy generally carries a higher level of risk.

Getting access to alternatives for your self-managed super fund

While alternatives have been historically used by institutional investors such as super funds, pension funds and government sovereign funds (e.g. our own government’s Future Fund) their higher initial investment served as a barrier for many self-managed super fund investors.  For example, investing in an infrastructure project such as a new airport could cost hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.

But gaining exposure to different markets and asset classes, including alternatives within your self-managed super fund has now become easier.  Thanks to managed investments and exchange-traded funds, you can gain diversification across asset classes, locally and globally.

In summary

Alternatives may be a useful diversification tool in a broader self-managed super fund due to their lower correlation to traditional sectors.  But like all investments, they’re not risk free so you may find it worthwhile to speak to your financial adviser about your current portfolio to determine if investing in alternatives is suitable for you.

Source BT

Property investment

Property investing through a self managed super fund

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Property investing through your self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) can be a great way to create wealth for your retirement.  By investing in property, you can diversify your super investments.  Any income from the investment property, including capital gains, will be taxed at concessional rates, so you should end up saving money in the long run.

How does it work?

Seek advice

The rules and regulations for setting up and borrowing through a SMSF are complex.  So it’s important that you obtain specialist financial planning, accounting and legal advice to make sure this investment strategy is right for you.

Review your SMSF trust documentation

If you already have a SMSF, you’ll need to make sure you have the necessary powers to borrow under your fund.  Again, it’s important you seek appropriate advice.

Set up a separate security trust

The first step to purchasing an investment property through your SMSF is setting up a separate security trust on behalf of your SMSF.  This new security trust will buy and hold the property, and provide a guarantee for your loan.

Loans to SMSFs are “limited recourse loans”.  This means that if you default the bank can only access:

  • the investment property;
  • any other property securing the loan.

The bank won’t be able to access your other super assets.

Funding your investment

Like regular property investment, you’ll need a deposit from your self-managed super fund, and a loan to cover the difference.  You’ll need to take into consideration how much the bank will lend you, and how much your SMSF will need to provide.  When you compare the loans offered by different banks, check interest rates carefully.  Some lenders charge their regular home loan rates, while others use higher business loan rates.

The security trust buys and holds the property

The security trust buys and holds the property on trust for your SMSF.  Rent payments flow through to your SMSF and help pay off the loan.  If this rent doesn’t completely cover your loan repayments, the extra needs to come from your SMSF.  You’ll need to consider your cash flow when thinking about this investment type.  Again, professional advice is important.

After the loan is paid off

Once your loan is fully repaid, the property can be transferred from the security trust to your SMSF.

For further information, please contact Revolution Financial Advisers.

SMSF and property

An insight into your SMSF purchasing business property with borrowed funds

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Superannuation legislation now permits self managed superannuation funds (SMSF’s) to borrow to invest, as long as certain requirements are met.  If you are a small business owner, you can potentially use these rulings to help purchase your business premises, via your SMSF.


Your family company wants to release liquidity that is tied up in your business premises, which is unencumbered.  Your SMSF holds a substantial amount of cash and purchases the business premises from your company using an instalment arrangement that must meet particular conditions.

The SMSF makes a partial payment on the business premises and borrows funds to pay the balance plus the other acquisition costs, using the business premises as security under a limited recourse loan.  In the event of default, the lender only has recourse to the business premises and cannot claim any other SMSF assets.

The business premises are held in trust for the SMSF which is entitled to its income.  Your SMSF makes the loan repayments, paying off the loan over the agreed period.  After the loan is repaid, the legal ownership of the business premises can be transferred to the SMSF.

Consider this strategy if you:

  • Are a trustee of a SMSF;
  • Are a small business owner;
  • Want to purchase business property or transfer current premises to SMSF;
  • Have a long-term investment period.

Why consider this strategy?

  • The strategy could potentially unlock cash for your business;
  • Your SMSF does not invest all of its assets in the premises; it is possible to diversify into other asset classes;
  • SMSF assets are secure as the lender does not have recourse to your SMSF’s assets in the event of default;
  • Rental income from the property can be put towards the loan;
  • Your SMSF is entitled to all income and is liable to pay any expenses relating to the property;
  • Your SMSF is not obligated to pay additional instalments if it would incur losses in relation to the investment. The SMSF can walk away from the It may receive the residual amount after the premises have been disposed and the lender paid the amount owing;
  • Once the SMSF acquires the premises, income after expenses and any capital gain on disposal of the property would be taxed at concessional tax rates 0% to 15%.


  • Your SMSF trust deed must permit borrowing under an instalment arrangement;
  • A suitable legal and/or accounting professional should establish the appropriateness of the trust Investment in the business premises should align with your SMSF’s investment strategy;
  • The instalment arrangement must meet certain requirements to ensure that the SMSF remains complying;
  • As Trustee, you must be acting in the best interest of the SMSF beneficiaries;
  • Your SMSF requires sufficient cash flow to service loan repayments over the term of the loan;
  • Ensure future cashflow to cover any future contingencies i.e. interest rate increases or gaps in income;
  • Any loan arrangements may be subject to the provision of personal guarantees, which could expose individual guarantors to potential personal liability;
  • You should undertake an analysis of the strategy – considering both the positive and negative outcomes.

Looking at an example

Mr and Mrs Smith own Smith Co, which is a hardware business.  The company currently operates from a shop it owns.  The shop was acquired 20 years ago and has been paid in full with a current market value of $750,000.  The Smith’s need capital to expand their business and want to unlock the equity in the shop.  Their superannuation is held in the Smith SMSF, which holds $750,000 in cash and other investments.  They want to transfer ownership of the shop to the SMSF.  Stamp duty and transaction costs are estimated at $50,000.  The SMSF purchases the shop under an instalment arrangement that meets prescribed conditions.  A trust is set up to hold the shop on behalf of the SMSF.  To fund the purchase, the SMSF uses $400,000 in cash and a $400,000 limited recourse loan.  While the trust holds legal ownership of the shop, the Smith SMSF has beneficial entitlement to it.  The SMSF leases the shop to Smith Co at commercial rates.  The SMSF makes loan repayments utilising rent less expenses and the additional income and contributions from the SMSF.  Once the loan is paid off, the trust transfers legal ownership of the shop to the Smith SMSF.

Seek Financial Advice

There is an array of complex regulations surrounding superannuation and SMSF strategies.  At Revolution Financial Advisers, we can provide advice about SMSFs that is specific to your situation.

Commercial building

SMSF limited recourse borrowing

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Given the growing focus on SMSF limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBA) in the media and the repercussions if the rules are not followed, the below provides an overview of this strategy noting benefits and risks.

What is an SMSF limited recourse borrowing arrangement?

An SMSF LRBA usually involves an SMSF taking out a loan from a third party lender or a related party, such as a member of the fund.  The SMSF then uses the loan, together with its own available funds, to purchase a single asset (i.e. a residential or commercial property) that is held in a separate trust.

Benefits associated with a LRBA Strategy

  • Leverage Superannuation savings – An SMSF LRBA allows the SMSF to borrow for investment reasons.  Borrowing to invest (“gearing”) your Super savings allows the fund to acquire a beneficiary interest in an asset that the fund may not otherwise be able to afford (i.e. business premise you own or operate from);
  • Tax concessions – Investment income received by an SMSF, including any income received because the fund holds a beneficial interest in an asset acquired under a LRBA, is taxed at the concessional Super rates;
  • Asset protection – Superannuation assets are generally protected against creditors in the event of bankruptcy.  This protection extends to assets that the Superannuation fund has acquired a beneficial interest in.  Hence, structuring the acquisition of an asset under a LRBA may provide greater asset protection benefits than may otherwise be available.

What are the key risks?

  • Details – Only assets that the SMSF trustee is not otherwise prohibited from acquiring can be used.  Usually, this means assets that you or a related party currently own cannot be acquired under a LRBA.  However, some exceptions do apply to business premises and listed securities that you or a related party own;
  • Property alterations and funding improvement costs – Assets acquired under a LRBA cannot usually be replaced with a different asset.  In a practical sense this means, during the loan term, alterations to a property acquired under a LRBA are prohibited if it fundamentally changes the character of the asset;
  • Cost – Be wary of additional costs associated with acquiring an asset under a LRBA that otherwise do not apply.  For instance, an SMSF LRBA requires a separate trust to be established and the drafting of separate legal documents such as trust deeds and company constitutions (if the trustee of the separate trust is a corporate trustee);
  • Liquidity – Loan repayments are deducted from your fund, so it’s important to ensure your fund always has sufficient liquidity to meet the repayments.  Careful planning is needed to ensure contributions and the fund’s investment income is adequate to meet the loan repayments and other existing and future liabilities as they occur;
  • Loan documentation and purchase contract – The Australian Taxation Office has noted that certain LRBA entered into by SMSF trustees have not been structured correctly.  Some of these arrangements cannot easily be restructured or rectified and unwinding the arrangement could require that the property be sold, resulting in a substantial loss to the fund;
  • Tax losses and capital gains – Any tax losses which may arise because the after-tax cost of the property exceeds the income derived from the property are quarantined in the fund.  This means the tax losses cannot be used to offset your taxable income derived outside the fund;
  • Governing rules and other matters – Trustees should always consider the quality of the investment they are making and whether entering into a LRBA is appropriate with the investment strategy.

An SMSF LRBA is a strategy that may assist members to increase their retirement savings; however, there are many risks and issues that should be evaluated before pursuing such a strategy.

For further information on SMSF LRBA, please contact Revolution Financial Advisers.

Borrowing to invest

Your SMSF can borrow to invest

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As Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF) become more popular the demand for more investment opportunities within that structure increases. Changes now mean that as long as strict conditions continue to be met, your SMSF can now borrow to invest, thus further bolstering retirement savings.

How does it work?

Borrowing for investment within superannuation depends on what type of asset is being purchased; however, the basic principles of an instalment arrangement, whereby the fund pays a percentage upfront and the remainder in instalments over a period of time, remains the same.

Investment property

All investment property will be owned by a separate entity, known as a Security Trust, with the SMSF having a beneficial entitlement to the Trust. The Trust can lease the property on commercial terms, with the income used to pay any expenses associated with the property. The net income is then paid to the SMSF. It is this income, along with any other fund income or member contributions, that provides the income source for the loan repayments.

Under a limited recourse loan, the property is security for the loan, which, in the event of a default, provides the lender with recourse to the property and assets owned by the guarantors, but not over any other assets held by the SMSF. After the loan is repaid, the SMSF has the right, not the obligation, to acquire the property.

What are the benefits?

 There are many benefits associated with borrowing through a SMSF. Some of these include:

  • An increased exposure to capital gains;
  • Reduced rates of capital gains tax;
  • Access to tax deductions within the SMSF.

Things to consider

Before borrowing through an SMSF, the following factors should be considered by potential borrowers:

  • The SMSF trust deed must allow for borrowing under an instalment arrangement;
  • Investment in certain asset classes must be consistent with the SMSF’s investment strategy;
  • A minimum deposit of 20% is required for purchases of residential investment property or 30% for commercial property;
  • The instalment arrangement must meet certain requirements to ensure that the SMSF remains compliant;
  • The SMSF requires sufficient cash flow to service the loan over the term of the Cash flow must be sourced from the net income of the asset, other investment earnings, or member contributions;
  • Arrangements must be at arm’s length and transacted at market rates;
  • The benefits of the strategy must be weighed against the cost of setting up and maintaining the arrangement;
  • Professional investment, taxation and legal advice should be sought before entering into an arrangement.

This is a very complicated area and the penalties can be severe.

Contact Revolution Financial Advisers to discuss your options.

Things to consider to Boost your Super.

Understanding how SMSF contributions work

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Contributions can play an essential role in a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF). Your SMSF contributions can be made in two ways – either by cash or an asset (known in the trade as ‘in specie’ contribution).

Typically, your SMSF can accept:

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is big on paperwork and record keeping for SMSFs. As a trustee you are responsible for documenting all your contributions and rollovers including the amount, type and breakdown of components. Generally you’ll also need to allocate your contributions to your SMSF members’ accounts within 28 days of the end of the month in which you received them.

Defining allowable contributions

The ATO has set minimum standards for accepting contributions.

  • The type of contribution – for example, you can accept mandated employer contributions such as super guarantee contributions from a member’s employer, at any time.
  • Your age – for example, if you’re 75 or over you can’t make a non-mandated contribution.
  • Whether you quote your tax file number.
  • Whether the contribution exceeds your SMSF-capped contributions limit.

Mandated employer contributions

Always popular with employees, mandated employer contributions are defined by the ATO as, “those made by an employer under a law or an industrial agreement for the benefit of a fund member”. Super contributions absolutely fall within this category.

The good news is you can say yes to mandated employer contributions to your SMSF at any time, regardless of your age or the number of hours you’re working at that time.

By age and circumstance

Your ability as trustee of the SMSF to say yes to accept a non-mandated contribution depends entirely on your age and circumstances. Let’s unpack that.

  • If you are under 65 years you can generally accept all types of contributions, bearing in mind your SMSF contribution cap. There is no work test.
  • If you’re between 65-74 there is a work test. You can say ‘yes’ if you are gainfully employed for at least 40 hours in period of 30 consecutive days in each financial year in which the contributions are made. The ATO is strict on its definition of what constitutes ‘gainfully employed’, as in paid work. Spouse contributions can’t be accepted after you turn 70. You can also accept mandated employer contributions.
  • If you’re 75 or over you generally cannot accept any contributions apart from mandated employer contributions.

‘In specie’ contributions

‘In specie’ contributions, refers to transferring assets such as shares or a commercial property direct to the SMSF rather than contributing cash. There are very strict rules on what can and can’t be transferred when it comes to in-house assets, for example, residential property you own cannot be transferred. If in doubt always seek expert advice.

Contribution caps

Contribution caps are applied for a number of contributions types made for SMSF members in a financial year.

The two major ones are the non-concessional cap which applies to after-tax contributions and the concessional cap which applies for those contributions for which a tax-deduction has been claimed:

  • Concessional contributions are capped at $25,000 per financial year.
  • Non-concessional contributions are capped at $100,000 per financial year, however if you are under 65 during the year, you can use the ‘bring forward’ provisions to use your cap for the following two years thereby allowing a contribution of up to $300,000 in a single year. However, you cannot make a non-concessional contribution if your total super balance at the last 30 June was at least $1.6 million.

Exceeding your cap

If your total contributions exceed the contributions caps those excess contributions could attract additional tax. You can have excess contributions refunded to you, but if you do not take up that option they will be assessed against your non-concessional cap also and if you have breached that cap extra tax maybe payable. Excess concessional contributions are effectively taxed at the member’s marginal tax rate, plus an interest charge.

The ATO is equally firm on the subject of single contributions. Here’s what they say: “Single contributions that exceed a member’s fund-capped contribution limit cannot be accepted by your SMSF. For a member under 65 years old, the limit is three times the non-concessional cap.”

Source: BT

Downsizing can be an excellent strategy to supplement your income

Would downsizing be worthwhile for you?

By | Self-Managed Superannuation Funds, Superannuation, Wealth Creation and Accumulation | No Comments

It seems to make logical sense. You retire, sell the now cavernous family home, buy a cosier place and use the cost difference to boost your retirement income – win-win right? The answer is – “it depends.”

Downsizing can be an excellent strategy to supplement your income and simplify your lifestyle, but it’s not right for everyone.

Here’s what you need to consider to see if downsizing is the right move for you.

Where you could save

Super: If you own your home outright and choose to downsize, that extra money could substantially improve your retirement income. The attraction of contributing money into super is that investment earnings on money in a super fund are generally taxed at 15%, representing a potential tax saving of up to 34%. This is because when you hold an investment outside super, the earnings are generally taxed at your marginal tax rate which could be up to 49%.

Also, as part of the May 2017 budget changes, the Government announced that individuals who are home owners can, from the proceeds of sale of their principal place of residence, each contribute up to $300,000 to superannuation. This special superannuation contribution will not be affected by the work test and can still be made even if they have a total superannuation balance of $1.6m or more.  However, there are a number of preconditions. First, the sale of the principal place of residence must occur after 1 July 2018; Secondly, the member making this special contribution must be aged 65 or more; Thirdly, the principal place of residence must have been held for 10 or more years. Finally, the downsizing contributions can be made even if the total superannuation balance already exceeds $1.6m.

Mortgage: If you’re still paying off your home, downsizing could help you minimise your repayments or eliminate them entirely. You could even downsize and continue to make the same repayments to pay off your mortgage much sooner.

Utilities: A smaller home typically runs more economically. Why pay to heat or cool space you no longer need? If your new home provides renewable energy options such as solar power, you may even be able to sell energy back to the grid and make money.

Maintenance: Less space to occupy means less space to maintain. In the case of larger properties, downsizing could offer substantial savings on cleaning and garden maintenance.

Travel: Downsizing can help you relocate to a more convenient location. If the local shops, public transport and amenities are all within walking distance, you could make substantial savings on fuel.

Garage sale: Selling your home is a great time to sell any items you no longer want, need, or will fit into your new house. Any money you make could be contributed towards moving costs.

Costs to consider

Home value: If you sell your home during a market lull, you could lose some or all of the equity you’ve built up. This could eat into, or erase entirely, the cost saving you make by purchasing a less expensive property.

Fees and commission: Home selling is a highly competitive market. To ensure your home is positioned favourably to sell, you may need to appoint a real estate agent and potentially pay for marketing services, which can cut into your profit margin.

Moving costs: If it’s been a while since your last move, you might be surprised at how much it costs to pack up and transport all of the items you’ve accumulated. That’s why it’s a good idea to offload all the items you can live without before your move. Why pay to transport items you no longer need?

Strata fees: If you purchase an apartment you’ll have to pay quarterly strata levies. Although these fees can end up saving you money in the long term, compared to paying for the maintenance of your home and yard, they will eat into your profit margin in the short term.

Stamp duty: You’ll have to pay stamp duty to buy a new home or apartment so you’ll need to include this cost in your calculations.

Storage costs: One drawback of buying a smaller home is you have less space to store your treasured belongings. If you run out of room, you may need to purchase additional storage which can add up quickly.

Doing the sums

Balancing the potential savings and costs of downsizing can be tricky, and that’s before you take all the potential lifestyle impacts into consideration. At Revolution Financial Advisers, we can help you work out if downsizing makes sense for you as a part of a tailored financial plan.

Source: MLC

Buying a property in an SMSF? Contact Revolution Financial Advisers Toowoomba for advice.

Buying a property in an SMSF – is it the right strategy for you?

By | Self-Managed Superannuation Funds | No Comments

Australians have a love affair with property with many of us owning an investment property in addition to our primary home of residence. This love affair has continued in recent years with a number of Australians setting up a self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) in order to invest in property. While it may be a popular topic of conversation, SMSF’s aren’t for everyone, and it’s important to determine whether setting up an SMSF to invest in property is really the right strategy for you before making any decisions.

The idea of setting up an SMSF to buy an investment property may seem like an appealing idea for many people, however, evidence suggests that few actually go ahead with the strategy. This is often the result of weighing up the potential benefits against the complexities and potential pitfalls. So what is the attraction of buying an investment property through super? Why is so little invested this way, considering the amount of interest in it? Below are some considerations to be aware of.

What is the appeal?

  • You like property as an investment – Australians love property investments, particularly residential property. Barbecues abound with stories of fortunes made and tips on the next hot suburb. There is good reason for this. Property has a place in a well-diversified portfolio and can offer good income and capital growth over the long term. Property is also attractive to people who like to be able to see and touch their investment and get involved in the management.
  • Reduced or no Capital Gains Tax when you sell – Provided you keep your property investment in your SMSF until you are over 60 and retired, when you convert your SMSF into the pension phase, you will pay no Capital Gains Tax if you decide to sell.
  • Reduced or no income tax on rental income – You may also save tax on the rental income from the property. Provided you keep the property inside your SMSF, you will pay no tax on rental income in retirement and you will only pay 15% tax on the rental income while you are saving for retirement.  That can be a big saving on your marginal tax rate.
  • You own your business premises – According to ATO statistics*, around $62 billion or 12% of SMSF assets are invested in what they call “non-residential real property”, most commonly business owners who own their business premises through their SMSF. The great thing about this strategy is that you get rid of the tenants/landlord problems that plague commercial property and you may generate significant tax savings.
  • You want to leverage your super investment – If you decide to borrow money to buy your property inside super, you increase your exposure to the investment, thereby magnifying the gains (and the losses) from the investment.

What you should think about

  • Are you better off buying the property outside super?  While the tax savings on capital gains and rental income are significant, the negative gearing benefits may also be significantly less. Plus, once you have the money invested in super, it is locked away until you satisfy a condition of release, such as reaching age 60 and retiring.
  • It can be complex and complicated – When you start up an SMSF, you take on a lot more responsibility. Investing in property adds another layer of complexity and you can add a further layer by borrowing money to buy the property. The additional complexity will often mean you will require the services professionals such as accountants and financial advisers.
  • It can be costly – Once you have paid for your fund tax return, your annual audit, and your administration fees, it is unlikely you will be able to run an SMSF for less than $2,000 per year. On top of the usual costs of buying and selling property, such as stamp duty, real estate agent fees and conveyancing costs, by adding the property to the fund, you are also likely to incur additional accounting fees. If you add a loan to this, you will also incur yet more fees in setting up and managing both the loan (called a limited recourse borrowing arrangement) and the additional Trust you require to hold the property (usually called a Bare Trust). As these fixed costs are high, the strategy is generally only suitable for people with at least $200,000 in super (combined) and preferably substantially more.
  • There are legal restrictions – There can be severe penalties for failing to stick to the rules which include:
    • You can’t transfer a residential property you own currently into your SMSF
    • You can’t live in the property and neither can any friends or family members

Buying property through your super can be a great way to build up your retirement savings, but it pays to think long and hard about whether it is the right strategy for you before embarking on this path. Contact Revolution Financial Advises to discuss whether this strategy may be suitable for you.

*Australian Taxation Office (ATO): Self-managed super fund statistical report – September 2013

Source: Capstone and BT.

Things to consider to Boost your Super.

10 Questions to Consider Before Establishing a SMSF

By | Self-Managed Superannuation Funds | No Comments

With Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) becoming increasingly popular, more and more people are wondering what all the hype is about and further investigating the suitability of a SMSF. Today, close to 600,000 SMSFs are now in operation, managing $653.8 billion in assets1. So is it right for you? Here are a few questions to consider before deciding whether setting up a SMSF is the right thing for you.

1. Why are you thinking of establishing an SMSF?
Many people find the main appeal of SMSFs lie with the increased control and flexibility they provide. While this is an attractive factor, it is important to be aware that some retail Funds can also be fairly flexible. Generally, the asset classes that SMSF Trustees have more control over are direct property investment and investments in collectables. Naturally, with more control comes additional requirements, so Trustees should ensure they are thoroughly aware of the risks and responsibilities before making the leap.

2. How much do you have to start off your SMSF?
Generally you need around $200,000 for your SMSF to be sufficient and to ensure the operating costs of the Fund are worthwhile. The initial funds will usually come from existing Super Funds, however you need to be aware of the costs when moving your money from a Retail Super Fund.

3. Who will you select as your trusted partners?
Even though SMSFs are predominantly controlled by the Trustee, experienced service providers (such as Financial Advisers, Accountants, Lawyers, and Administrators) are still needed to assist with the running of the Fund. Try and choose professionals who have experience with SMSFs.

4. What Trustee structure are you going to use?
There are two choices – individual or corporate. Previously the majority of SMSFs have been set up with an individual structure as this is initially cheaper and easier. However the benefits of a corporate structure should not be overlooked. Although there are initial setup costs involved, there are future gains in the efficient running of the Fund. One example is that unlike individual structures, changes in membership of corporate Funds do not require share registry changes.

5. What will happen if you become incapacitated?
If one or more Trustees are unable to fulfil their responsibilities for a period of time, what will you do? The Trustee needs to consider who they would appoint under a power of attorney if this situation was to occur. It should be a person the members trust to make the best decision by them and a person who, of course, is willing to take on the responsibilities.

6. Have you considered your investment strategy?
An appropriate investment strategy is necessary to manage and grow your savings for your future needs. To find the strategy best suited to your requirements, it’s important to consider diversification, risk and return. Also be aware of recent amendments to Superannuation law which requires Trustees to regularly review and update their investment strategy, as well as considering insurance needs.

7. How will you address the Fund’s liquidity needs?
It’s important to consider the liquidity needs of a Self Managed Super Funds for when a situation arises where funds are needed. This may include meeting the ongoing costs of the Fund, making future pension payments when they are due or making benefits available upon the death of a member. These requirements are particularly important when the SMSF holds direct property, as it may take time to sell the asset and some members of the Fund may not want it to be sold. This is where insurance policies can be very useful and may reduce liquidity issues.

8. Are you aware of your responsibilities?
The Trustee Declaration issued by the ATO summarises the requirements and responsibilities of a Trustee and must be read and signed by all new SMSF Trustees. It is therefore very important that the Trustee completely understand what they are getting into. If you have questions or concerns, speak to a relevant expert for guidance and advice.

9. Have you thought about succession planning?
When setting up a SMSF it may be worth considering whether only the current members will be part of the SMSF or if there may be new members (such as your children) in the future. In that case, it can be worthwhile to get the children involved early so they begin to understand how SMSFs work and the importance of saving for the future.

10. Have you reviewed your entire estate plan?
Superannuation savings are not part of your estate. People may be inclined to put a substantial amount of savings into their Fund, however you need to consider what impact this will have on your estate plan to ensure your future goals can still be achieved.

Seek Advice

Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of questions to consider before establishing as SMSF. Depending on your situation and future needs, some areas may be more important than others, and there will most likely be further issues to consider. It’s important to fully consider the benefits and consequences of setting up your own SMSF. At Revolution Financial Advisers, we can assist you to decide whether a SMSF is right for you.