SMSF Trustees Role and Responsibilities
With Control Comes Responsibility
In an SMSF the trustees have control over the retirement savings of the fund members. It is essential that not only do they invest the SMSF assets in an appropriate way, but they also comply with all the obligations and responsibilities imposed on them by the legislation.
The Australian Taxation Office requires all new trustees of SMSFs to complete the trustee declaration. This explains the ‘sole purpose’ test; lists the trustee’s duties; details investment restrictions and sets out some contributions and administrative duties and requirements. Trustees are now required to sign an acknowledgement that they understand the requirements of being a trustee, as is set out in the document as part of the requirements to establish a fund.
The Australian Taxation Office has another document; Self managed super funds – key messages for trustees, which has a summary of its expectation of trustees. It stresses that the trustees are responsible for the compliance of the fund with the requirements, even though the trustees may have engaged professional assistance.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, along with the other processional accounting bodies, has developed and owns a free online tool for its members like PKF to promote to our clients who are trustees of SMSFs.
Our Institute strongly encourages PKF to direct our clients to the tool prior to establishing an SMSF. In our view, existing trustees would also benefit from undertaking the study and assessment contained in the tool as a refresher or to upgrade their level of understanding of SMSF trustee roles and responsibilities.
The tool is designed to educate SMSF trustees and is tailored to the Australian Taxation Office’s trustee declaration form. At the conclusion of the training programme, following completion of the small quiz, a certificate of attainment is provided.
The tool is located at http://www.smsftrustee.com/cpa/htm/home.asp
We encourage all SMSF trustees to undertake this training and thank the joint accounting bodies, as owners of the tool, for the initiative and making it available to our clients.