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ATO defends its statistics

ATO SMSF

The ATO has defended the efficacy of its quarterly SMSF statistics in light of recent criticism with regard to their use as a performance indicator.

The ATO has clarified the purpose of the SMSF statistical reports it publishes on a quarterly basis, including figures reflecting fund performance, amid recent criticism over their efficacy.

Speaking at the SMSF Auditors Association of Australia Conference in Melbourne last week, ATO SMSF approved auditor portfolio director Paul Delahunty advised sector stakeholders the data is only meant to be used for certain types of analysis.

“Recently there has been quite a bit of media attention in the SMSF space related to the performance of the SMSF industry in comparisons between the performance of SMSFs and APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) funds. I do want to acknowledge that there have been some suggestions that the ATO statistics underestimate investment returns for SMSFs,” Delahunty said.

“To clarify, our statistics are based on annual return information from all lodging funds regardless of their size, age or asset mix rather than using a particular sample.

“The investment performance data shouldn’t be used for comparative purposes other than annual comparisons of the SMSF sector as a whole. After all it’s up to the trustees to decide if the performance of their investment decisions are meeting their retirement goals, and if not, to review their investment strategies or select other options.”

He reiterated the data covers a range of SMSF information such as member demographics, fund costs and asset allocations, as well as performance.

When examining the figures to look at the sector as a whole, the statistics provide a sound basis to inform prospective trustees and assist policymakers and other key stakeholders to make decisions that impact the sector, he said.

With reference to the most recent set of published quarterly statistics, he said they demonstrate “SMSFs remain an important and integral part of the Australian super system representing a quarter of the $3.4 trillion in the Australian superannuation pool”.

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