We’ve just returned from another SMSF Association National Conference and over the 12 years I have been covering this event the sector really has come a long way.
So despite how far SMSFs have developed, it was disappointing to see how far some of our elected officials and other industry heavyweights are lagging behind the sector.
What I’m talking about is the unexpected reoccurrence of arguably the most offensive reference to SMSFs that can be made.
When I began covering SMSFs back in 2008 I soon discovered there were two references to these types of funds you were not to use as they were deemed to be derogatory. One was to label SMSFs DIY funds and the other, and unquestionably the worst offense, was to refer to them as Smurfs.
So I was shocked, insulted and angry when Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert used the term Smurfs no less than 11 times when he took to the stage to address conference goers last Friday. His entire speech lasted 11 minutes so on average that’s one use of the term Smurfs per minute.
And I know I was not the only one feeling this way because the continued reference prompted BT Financial Group SMSF strategy national manager Neil Sparks to tweet about it before the speech was even over.
Such stupidity really beggars belief. I understand it is unrealistic to expect everyone to have an intimate knowledge of SMSFs and how during its infancy all sorts of insults were hurled at the sector in an effort to discredit it. Referring to individual funds as Smurfs was front and centre of this tactic.
But you don’t need to be an SMSF historian to realise this. If you took a step back and thought about it for a minute, you would have to realise comparing the largest superannuation sector, in terms of assets held, with children’s cartoon characters would not be perceived as something praiseworthy.
Ask yourself if this happens to any other section of the superannuation industry. Of course not and if it did, you would never hear the end of it.
Now before anyone accuses me of being a snowflake because I’m easily offended by a name, it’s not about that. It’s more about the fact we have to listen to politician after politician saying how much they love SMSFs and how supportive they are of them and how much they respect what they represent, only to turn around and do something completely contrary to this sentiment – in this case using an extremely condescending term.
To me this really is a matter of insulting the intelligence of everyone involved in the sector.
And I’m not asking for much. Just some respect for SMSFs, arguably the greatest success story since the compulsory superannuation system was introduced.