The SMSF Association has launched a new website for self-managed fund trustees, offering a range of education and information services.
The new site, SMSF Connect, replaces the Trustee Knowledge Centre. Association chief executive John Maroney says the new website makes it easier for trustees to find the latest SMSF information on investment options, strategy planning and portfolio construction.
It will also connect them to product providers who can offer the information and education needed to assist them manage their fund.
The launch of SMSF Connect is in response to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s review of the sector last year, which said SMSF advisers needed to improve how they educated their clients about their obligations and responsibilities as SMSF trustees.
ASIC reviewed 250 SMSF client advice files, assessing them against the best interests duty and associated obligations in the Corporations Act. In 91 per cent of the files reviewed, the adviser did not comply with the best interests duty.
ASIC said advice providers had not demonstrated that they had sufficiently researched and considered the client’s existing financial products and/or based all judgements on the client’s relevant circumstances.
And in 10 per cent of files the client was likely to be significantly worse off in retirement due to the advice. ASIC’s concerns were based on the balance size of the SMSF, the age of the members and the level of gearing in the fund.
ASIC also conducted a survey of SMSF members. It found that a lot of people did not understand the risks of SMSFs or their legal obligations as SMSF trustees. Thirty-three per cent did not know they were required to have an investment strategy and 29 per cent mistakenly thought SMSFs had the same level of protection as prudentially regulated superannuation funds.
Maroney says: “We believe that SMSF Connect will be a vital tool for our members to deliver on this recommendation by the regulator.”
The Association’s research report has found that about 23 per cent of the SMSFs had unmet tax and superannuation advice needs – the highest of all types of unmet adviser requirements.
Maroney says SMSF Connect will offer trustees a wide range of resources, such as insight papers, guides, checklists, videos and learning modules, to explore these issues.
“The research report also found that 82 per cent of SMSFs believe that diversification is important; however, in practice many don’t achieve it.
“SMSF Connect will arm trustees with the information on how to achieve diversification in their fund, as well as connecting them to accredited SMSF professionals who can help them achieve this goal.”
Other features of the platform include: access to regular advocacy updates from the Association’s policy team; opportunities for face-to-face meetings at SMSF trustee events; and details of current SMSF legislation, rules and trustee administration obligations and responsibilities.
The site will connect unadvised trustees to a directory of independently accredited SMSF specialists.