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SMSF advisers must apply correct laws

SMSF advisers need to be mindful of applying the correct legislation governing the super fund when giving retirement saving advice, according to a specialist superannuation lawyer.

“Whenever I get asked a superannuation question, of course there is the trust deed, but one of the first things I look at is what’s the law of the super fund,” Rockwell Oliver managing principal Peter Bobbin said.

Bobbin said it was often the case that no one knew what law actually applied.

“You see, the law of superannuation is state based, not federal,” he said.

“The is a federal act. But it just sets a range of standards.

“If you actually want to deal with any issue in superannuation, you’re going to have to deal with it in a state or territory of Australia, so what law is it?”

As such, geographical location was another key element advisers needed to take into account with their SMSF clients.

“With clients who shift and are mobile, just make sure the law matches wherever they are located. It’s just a small issue,” Bobbin said.

In the context of the Future of Financial Advice reforms, he suggested constant disclosure was also required.

“Those practitioners that wear a couple of hats need to be careful about what hat they’ve got on at what time,” he said.

“The reality is most clients won’t know what hat you’ve got on, so if you’re an accountant and a financial adviser in any way, just recognise continuous disclosure is probably an obligation that you carry under the Future of Financial Advice reforms that are now in place.

“That means you have to continuously update the clients and the members of the fund about issues associated with their super fund.”

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