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Regulators give SMSFs their approval

A discussion panel of regulators containing representatives from Treasury, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has unanimously given a positive assessment of the SMSF sector.

The panel was convened for the 2014 SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia (SPAA) National Conference in Brisbane last week, with each participant expressing an optimistic view towards SMSFs.

“I understand over the next few weeks [we will] clock over to a million SMSF members. From the government’s point of view that is unambiguously a good thing,” Treasury revenue group executive director Rob Heferen said.

“I’d like to make it very clear the Treasurer [Joe Hockey] has spoken to a group of us, and I’m sure he’s said it publicly and certainly the Assistant Treasurer [Arthur Sinodinos] has said it publicly, that the idea [and] broad philosophy of people being in control of their own retirement incomes for their future is unambiguously a good thing.

“I’m sure that will give a lot of confidence to the people in the room about the future of the sector.”

ATO deputy commissioner Alison Lendon said the sector was looking good from a compliance perspective as well.

“As the regulator it’s our role to ensure the health and security of this sector [and] we think from the ATO’s perspective that it’s in good shape,” Lendon said.

“This is in no small part due to the positive and productive working relationships that we have with the industry and the professional organisations, including SPAA, and our usually positive working relationships with individual SMSF professionals.”

From an advice point of view, ASIC said it was very pleased with the overall quality of advice provided to SMSF clients as gleaned from its ‘Report 337 Improving the Quality of Advice Given to Investors”.

“As part of this project we deliberately targeted investment files of investment advice about SMSFs where we thought there were likely to be problems. So this wasn’t a random sample,” ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer said.

“We picked files that had lower balances and less diversified investments.

“Now actually we were gratified to find that most of the advice we looked at was in fact what we would regard as adequate.”

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