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How to Set Up a Self-Managed Super Fund

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September 29, 2023

Setting up an SMSF involves several steps, including choosing a trustee, creating a trust deed, and registering with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). SMSFs can invest in various assets, including shares, property, and cash. They also offer tax benefits and greater flexibility than other superannuation funds.

Setting up a self-managed super fund (SMSF) can be complex and lengthy. Be aware of the legal and financial implications before beginning the process. You must choose a trustee, create and register a trust, open a bank account, obtain a Tax File Number (TFN), and apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN).

What is a Self-Managed Super Fund?

A self-managed super fund (SMSF) is a superannuation fund managed by its members. SMSFs can have up to four members and individuals who want more control over their retirement savings. It is important to note that SMSFs are not suitable for everyone, and some risks are associated with managing your superannuation.

These risks include the potential for investment losses, compliance issues, and legal disputes. To set up a self-managed super fund, you will typically need a minimum of $200,000 in superannuation savings, although this can vary depending on individual circumstances.

Why Set Up a Self-Managed Super Fund?
Why Set Up a Self-Managed Super Fund?

Starting a self-managed super fund can be for individuals who want more control and flexibility over their retirement savings. 

  • SMSFs offer various investment options, including stocks, bonds, property, and other assets. SMSFs benefit from concessional tax rates on investment income and capital gains. Additionally, members aged 60 and over can enjoy tax-free withdrawals from their SMSFs.
  • While there are costs associated with managing an SMSF, having a larger balance can make it cost-effective compared to retail or industry superannuation funds. Smaller SMSFs may find it less cost-effective due to fixed fees. SMSFs can invest in residential or commercial property, providing an opportunity to own property within a tax-advantaged structure.
  • SMSFs can invest in business assets, including shares in a family business or commercial property leased to a related party. SMSFs provide flexibility in the transition to retirement phase, allowing members to receive an income stream from their super while still working. Trustees can choose the service providers for their SMSF, such as accountants, administrators, and auditors, giving them control over the cost.
  • Individuals with a strong background in finance or investments may feel more comfortable managing their superannuation investments directly.

7 Steps to Setting Up an SMSF

By following these all essential steps to help you navigate the intricacies of Self-Managed Superannuation Funds. Take control of your retirement strategy and make informed decisions with this comprehensive guide, ensuring a secure and tailored approach to your financial future.

Step 1: Choosing a Trustee Structure

The first step to setting up a managed fund is to decide on the trustee structure. You can choose between individual or corporate trustees with advantages and responsibilities. Choosing a trustee structure helps in a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) by providing the legal framework and governance for the fund.

The trustee structure determines who holds the responsibility and makes decisions on behalf of the SMSF. It includes the appointment of individual or corporate trustees, considering factors such as asset protection, tax planning, succession planning, and flexibility in managing the fund. SMSF Perth are professional who provides expert advice and guidance on managing and optimizing self-managed super funds.

Step 2: Establish a Trust

You’ll need to establish a trust deed that outlines the rules and objectives of your SMSF. It is a legal document by a qualified professional. Establishing a Trust is essential to setting up a self-managed super fund in Australia as it provides the legal structure to hold and manage the assets. It helps in compliance with the regulations and safeguards the members’ interests.

The Trust acts as the entity of the assets on behalf of the members, providing protection and transparency. It also allows for the separation of assets, enabling effective asset administration and management.

Step 3: Sign Trustee Declarations

All trustees must sign trustee declarations acknowledging their roles and responsibilities. The trustee declarations are legal documents that should be completed and signed by all trustees of the SMSF. It includes statements related to duties and responsibilities, investment strategy, and compliance with superannuation laws. When choosing an SMSF consultant, it’s crucial to consider factors such as fees, performance, and customer service.

Step 4: Record Members’ TFNs

Collect and record the Tax File Numbers (TFNs) of all members. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) requires all superannuation funds, including SMSFs, to have the TFN of each member recorded. Recording TFNs ensures that the SMSF remains compliant with tax regulations.

By recording TFNs, SMSFs can take advantage of various tax concessions and benefits available to members. For example, SMSFs can claim a tax deduction for personal contributions made by members, subject to certain conditions. Having TFNs recorded facilitates the accurate calculation of tax liabilities and benefits for each member.

Step 5: Register with the ATO

You must register your SMSF with the ATO. It involves obtaining an Australian Business Number (ABN) and a Tax File Number (TFN) for the fund. Registering with the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) helps in a self-managed super fund set-up by ensuring compliance with tax and superannuation laws in Australia. Registering with the ATO allows individuals to obtain a unique ABN (Australian Business Number) and TFN (Tax File Number) for their SMSF. It also enables the SMSF to receive concessional tax treatment and benefits. 

Step 6: Open an SMSF Bank Account

Opening an SMSF bank account helps with an SMSF by providing a designated account for managing the funds and assets of the self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF). It allows for separate record-keeping and tracking of transactions related to the SMSF, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and facilitating the administration.

Additionally, an SMSF bank account enables convenient management of financial operations, such as receiving contributions, making investments, paying expenses, and receiving income for the SMSF. 

Step 7: Putting Money in the Fund

Start contributing money to the SMSF. Contributions can come from various sources, including member contributions, employer contributions, and rollovers from existing superannuation funds. This funding is essential as it allows your SMSF to generate income and grow over time, potentially providing a more secure retirement nest egg. 

How much money do you require for setup a SMSF?

How Much Amount Do You Need to Set Up a Self-Managed Super

When setting up a self-managed super fund (SMSF) initial cost is one of the most important considerations. The amount of money needed to set up an SMSF can vary depending on several factors, such as the number of members and the complexity of the investment strategy.

You should have a minimum of $200,000 to set up an SMSF, as this will provide enough funds to cover the initial setup costs, ongoing management fees, and investment expenses. A self-managed super fund (SMSF) in Perth allows individuals to take control of their retirement savings and make investment decisions on their behalf.

What are the risks of self-managed super funds?

  • SMSFs must comply with strict regulations and laws imposed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). SMSF trustees are responsible for making investment decisions.
  • Lack of diversification increases the risk of losses if that asset performs poorly. SMSF investments are subject to market fluctuations. Economic downturns or bear markets can impact the value of funds.
  • Trustees must ensure these are accurate and avoid penalties or difficulties with the ATO. Some SMSF assets, like real estate, make it challenging to access funds when needed. It can be an issue if members require quick access to their superannuation savings.
  • Setting up a Self-managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) Trust involves various expenses, such as accounting, auditing, legal fees, and administration costs.
  • SMSF trustees are personally responsible for the fund’s decisions and operations. Inadequate estate planning within an SMSF can lead to disputes among beneficiaries and complications in distributing assets upon the death of a member.
  • To mitigate these risks, SMSF trustees must seek expert SMSF specialist advisors, stay informed about changes in superannuation laws, diversify their investments, maintain accurate records, and carefully consider their investment strategies. 


Before deciding to start an SMSF, it’s necessary to consider your financial goals, investment experience, and risk tolerance. Ultimately, with careful planning and a solid understanding of the risks involved, an SMSF can be a powerful tool for building wealth and securing your financial future through our retirement financial advisor Perth.

An SMSF accountant specializes in managing and providing financial services for self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs). They help individuals and businesses navigate the complex regulations and reporting requirements associated with SMSFs.

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