If you run a self-managed super fund (SMSF), or you’re considering running a SMSF, then I recommend you check out a fantastic, and free, online SMSF trustee education tool.
The tool, called the ‘Self Managed Superannuation Fund Trustee Education Program’, was launched in late-March 2010, and developed by three Australian accounting bodies – CPA Australia, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA) and National Institute of Accountants (NIA).
Seven topics plus a quiz
The online SMSF Trustee Education Program takes about one hour, maybe two hours, if you’re a newish SMSF trustee. Within the program, you go through the introduction and seven topics:
- Understanding your role as trustee
- Your responsibilities
- Your decisions
- Investment restrictions
- Accepting contributions
- Paying benefits
- Your administration
At the end of each topic you are asked to answer two or three ‘knowledge check’ questions. You’re not assessed on these responses; they are merely prompts to help you remember the information.
Earn a certificate with a score of 70% or more
After you complete the last topic (‘Your administration’), you are then asked to sit a 20-question multiple choice quiz. If you get 14 or more of these questions correct, you can generate a certificate as evidence that you have completed the program.
In April 2010, I completed the program and sat the quiz three times (many of the questions vary each time so have a go at the quiz more than once if you wish). I believe the program provides an excellent refresher of the super rules for existing SMSF trustees, and an effective trigger to find out more information for individuals aspiring to become SMSF trustees. I sat the quiz again two years later, in April 2012 (I disclose my scores later in the article).
Purpose of SMSF Trustee Education Program
The program’s website (www.smsftrustee.com) states that the aim of the program is to educate SMSF trustees throughout Australia. The program has been designed around the SMSF trustee declaration (for background on this declaration, see SuperGuide’s article Guide to the SMSF trustee declaration).
Note: The program is for educational purposes, and cannot be considered as financial advice.
According to the original media release announcing the launch of the online tool: “upon completion of the program, SMSF trustees should be equipped to confidently sign the SMSF trustee declaration form, knowing they have satisfied all the competencies expected of them.”
The website promises that after completing the program, SMSF trustees will be able to understand:
- the roles and responsibilities of a SMSF trustee
- the investment restrictions imposed on an SMSF trustee
- contribution rules
- benefit payment rules
- SMSF administration.
The program is a great tool, but the claims made that program participants will be able to understand all of the areas listed above is slightly ambitious. I do believe however that you will certainly be able to better understand the superannuation rules applying to SMSFs, and I encourage all SMSF trustees to give the tool a go. You can register to access the tool by visiting www.smsftrustee.com.
For more detail on DIY super (SMSFs) and the topics listed above you can check out the ‘DIY super’ section of our website (www.superguide.com.au), or the superannuation section of the ATO website (www.ato.gov.au), or you can read my latest book DIY Super For Dummies, 2nd edition (Wiley, $29.95).
Trish Power’s quiz results:
April 2010 – sat the quiz three times
- 95% (one incorrect question – misread the question – excuses, excuses!)
April 2012 – sat the quiz once