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SMSFs 2.0 a possibility

By 2026, the industry could have moved to a fully digital SMSF environment whereby tax return and audit functions were automated and “plugged in” to the ATO, according to Challenger retirement income chairman Jeremy Cooper.

“SMSFs 2.0 is a sort of ‘what if’ scenario where, looking out in 10 years, would it be possible – maybe less likely now because of the recent online census – for the ATO to prepopulate, in one fell swoop, tax return information,” Cooper told the CPA National SMSF Conference in Melbourne this month.

“[You could possibly] plug your SMSF platform into some sort of ATO technology platform and get your audit and tax return done digitally.

“No one’s ever suggested that that might happen.

“But if you’re familiar with technology and the data that the ATO has got these days, it’s not so crazy and off the scale.”

In addition, the arrival of robo-advice was expected to have a positive impact on the sector, he said.

“Robo-advice is going to kick-start and help human [advisers] because I think people who don’t get any advice at all will go for robo-advice, but human advisers do a better job [in the more holistic and complex client scenarios],” he noted.

“It’s far from doing away with humans. It’s a good story.”

Commenting on the criticism and lobbying for greater regulations for the SMSF industry from other sectors and groups, he said the negativity about SMSFs had always existed.

“I don’t think there’s a strong case for regulatory interventions that these people are urging for, but it’s just one of those things that won’t go away until the large funds can actually, sensibly, emulate the SMSF experience, which they are finding quite difficult to do at the moment,” he said.

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