Jeremy Cooper, chair of the Government review into Australia's super system didn't make an understatement late last week when he said that reliable data about SMSFs "can be hard to find".
The review has attempted to fill what Cooper correctly calls the "information vacuum" with its own statistical summary of SMSFs that Cooper believes will address some of the misconceptions about this $332 billion-plus sector.
The review's SMSF Statistical Summary is based on unpublished and published information from mainly the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). And it is brought together in an easy-to-ready form.
This is a must read for superannuation professionals and, indeed, really involved SMSF trustees. (Download the PDF here.)
An unavoidable weak point with the review's SMSF statistical report is that much, but not all, of the information is based on SMSF returns to 2007-08, which seems a long time ago – particularly given what has happened on the markets in the meantime.
Smart Investing will delve more closely into this valuable report in coming weeks. In the meantime, here's a sample:
- Annual growth: In the five years to June 2009, the SMSF sector grew in dollar terms at an annualised rate of 20% against 8% by APRA-regulated funds. This was, of course, from a combination of contributions, establishment of new funds, net rollovers from non-SMSF sectors and investment earnings.
- Contribution sources: In the five years to June 2008, member contributions to SMSFs outnumbered employer contributions by three to one.
- New funds: Since July 2007, 2000-3000 SMSFs have been established each month against about 3400 funds being closed annually.
- Financial planning advice: More than 40% of new SMSF trustees consulted a financial planner. Only 3% of new trustees did not seek financial advice or any other professional assistance when establishing their funds. (This was extracted from a 2008 ATO survey of new trustees.)
- Member ages: About 67% of SMSF members are aged 50 and over against 22% in other types of super funds.
- Fund performance: The ATO estimates that return on assets for the SMSF sector were 12.6%, 16.9% and -6.1% for the 2006, 2007 and 2008 financial years respectively.
- Asset allocation: As at June 2008, 58.8% of SMSF assets were held in Australian listed shares (32.4%) and cash/term deposits (26.4%).
Without a doubt, the SMSF sector is hungry for this type of detail presented in an easy-to-read style. It seems that one of the significant benefits of the Government's superannuation review will include the standard of information about the super industry that will inevitably emerge.