From left: Tim Steele, Irene Guiamatsia, Hazel Bateman, Meg Heffron and Peter Burgess

The SMSF sector shouldn’t be worried about maximizing growth of the sector, but rather making sure fund members are receiving quality advice, according to a panel discussion.

Opening the SMSF Association National Conference in Melbourne on Wednesday morning, the Thought Leadership Breakfast tackled how big the sector could be.

SMSF Association deputy CEO Peter Burgess said the association doesn’t think about or care about how much the sector can grow but more about that members are doing the right thing.

“For them to do that, they need support and they need good quality advice around their self-managed super funds,” Burgess said.

“If we get that right, in my view, the sector can reach its full potential. If we don’t get that right, there’s always the possibility extra restrictions and conditions will be put on the sector.”

Burgess said the association has worked to address the misconceptions around SMSFs, noting research done in the past few years in conjunction with Rice Warner and the University of Adelaide.

Those two research projects culminated in the finding that $200,000 is a more appropriate threshold to start an SMSF, lower than ASIC’s guidance of $500,000.

“It’s not the case that everyone is suited to a self-managed super fund so there’s always going to be some natural limit to how big our sector can be,” Burgess said.

However, he added the lack of accessible professional advice will be a limiting factor on growth of
the sector.

“We need to make sure that individuals have access to advice,” Burgess said. “Not just advice, but specialist advice. Giving advice to clients of a self-managed super fund is different than to APRA[- regulated] funds.”

On the sidelines of the event, Class CEO Tim Steele told Professional Planner said the term ‘self-managed super fund’ is a misnomer as it can spawn the belief it is entirely self-directed.

“People should be seeking advice as part of their [SMSF]; advice is critical and the removal of the $500,000 reg guidance last year from ASIC is an important enabler for licensees to consider what our policy position now in relation to SMSFs.

Before taking up a leadership role on the product side of the industry, Steele led licensees owned by AMP and NAB.

He said hopefully the new regulatory guidance will open the door for licensees to change their own guidance on SMSFs.