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What is a Self Managed Super Fund?

A Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) is controlled and managed by the members of the fund. As such, the members, as trustees, make all the decisions about how the fund is run, what investments it holds and the type of benefits it can pay. The level of control and flexibility SMSFs allow are seen as some of their main advantages.

To be a SMSF, a fund must satisfy the following conditions:

  • it has less than five members
  • if the trustee of the fund is a company (known as a corporate trustee), each director of the company is a member
  • each member of the fund is:
    • an individual trustee, or
    • a director of the corporate trustee
  • no member of the fund is an employee of another member, unless they are relatives
  • no trustee receives any remuneration for duties or services performed as trustee

One member fund

Where a SMSF only has one member, different rules apply. In this case a one member fund will meet the definition of a SMSF if it satisfies the following conditions:

  • if the trustee of the fund is a body corporate:
    • the member is the sole director of the corporate trustee, or
    • the member is one of only two directors of the corporate trustee, and the member is not an
    employee of the other director (unless they are relatives)
  • if the trustees of the fund are individuals
    • the member is one of only two trustees, and the member is not an employee of the other
    trustee (unless they are relatives)

In certain situations other people may be permitted to act as a fund trustee on a member’s behalf without causing the fund to fail the SMSF definition. These situations include where a member has deceased or is under a legal disability.

Who can be a member of a Self Managed Super Fund?
In general anyone can be a member of a superannuation fund. However, to be a trustee of a SMSF, each member must be a trustee, over age 18, not be under a legal disability or be a disqualified person. Where a member is under a legal disability or under age 18 another person (i.e. their legal personal representative or guardian) can be appointed to act as trustee on their behalf.

A person will be considered to be a disqualified person if they:

  • have ever been convicted of an offence involving dishonest conduct
  • have ever been subject to a civil penalty for a breach of the SIS Act
  • are insolvent under administration
  • have ever been disqualified from acting as a trustee of a superannuation fund

Where a fund has a corporate trustee the company will be considered to be a disqualified person where:

  • a receiver, administrator or provisional liquidator has been appointed to the company
  • the company has begun to be wound up
  • the company knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that a responsible officer (director, secretary or executive officer) of the company is a disqualified person

For more information on the definition of a self managed superannuation fund and details on who can be a trustee see “Self Managed Superannuation Funds – “Role and responsibilities of trustees” on the ATO website at

It is highly recommended that you speak to a financial adviser about your specific needs.

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The content on this website is for general information purposes only. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and should not be used as such. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the website information relates to your particular circumstances. Speak to our qualified team of financial brokers who may be able to assist you with your situation.