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Compliance, Superannuation

New trustee duty muddies compliance

Best financial interest SMSF

The best financial interest duty amendment to the Your Future, Your Super bill will make SMSF compliance more difficult with investments in certain conventional asset classes.

The duty for trustees to act in the best financial interest of their members as per the amendment to the Your Future, Your Super bill will be difficult to measure and will create additional compliance complexity for some SMSF investments, a sector specialist has said.

To this end, BT Financial Group SMSF strategy national manager Neil Sparks identified property as an asset class that is likely to be problematic as a result of this measure.

Sparks illustrated his point using a scenario where trustees of an SMSF decide to invest in a property in a geographical location currently of low value with the expectation the suburb in question will be gentrified in the future, resulting in an appreciation in real estate prices.

“[Under the amendment to the bill] they have to consider the best financial interest of the SMSF members. How do they evidence that? I don’t know if an auditor is going to chase up on [these situations so] how are they going to evidence that?” he told delegates at the recent Self-managed Independent Superannuation Funds Association SMSF Professionals Half Day Seminar.

He noted the situation is in contrast to an allocation to shares where relevant performance measures and information of that nature are readily available.

“So you’ve got this situation where the client is going to invest there [and] the alarm bells would be ringing, right? But they’re the trustee, they’re the member and they just go ahead and do it,” he said.

“What will this mean? Should they actually step back, take a breath and produce some investment research on the area?

“I think this is the reality and these guys are going to have to wake up a little bit and [think] ‘well, we need to have something that backs up what we’re doing’.”

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