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Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) in Australia are privately run super funds for between one and six members who must also be trustees of their fund.
According to the ATO, 69% of SMSFs had two members in June 2021, typically a married couple, followed by 24% with just a single member. Those with three or four members made up just 7% of funds. These numbers have been stable for many years, indicating there may not be much demand for five- or six-member funds, although figures are not yet available.
How many SMSFs are there?
The latest available ATO figures indicate there were 603,432 SMSFs in Australia in June 2022, up 4.4%. This resumed the steady growth of the sector after a brief dip in numbers during the early phase of market disruption due to COVID.
As you can see from the table below, the number of new funds established increased while wind-ups fell in the year to June 2022 despite the market sell-off in the second half of the financial year due to the war in Ukraine. As a result, net establishments were the strongest in many years.
Number of SMSFs
|Year ended||Establishments||Windups||Net establishments||Total number of SMSFs||Total members of SMSFs|
As at June 2022, the nearly 603,432 SMSFs in Australia had a combined total of 1.1 million members. Although this represents less than 5% of Australia’s population, they accounted for $868.7 billion in assets, or about 26% of the $3.3 trillion invested in superannuation. Only industry funds have a bigger slice of the super pie, with $1,076.6 billion in assets or 32.5% of the total. Both industry funds and SMSFs have grown in the past year as the expense of public sector funds ($467.5 billion or 14.1%), retail funds run by financial institutions ($638.2 billion or 19.3%) and corporate funds ($56.3 billion or 1.7%).
What is the average and median SMSF balance?
The average account balance of individual SMSF members has been steadily increasing in recent years, as indicated in the first row of the table below. These are the latest figures available, but it’s worth noting that they don’t capture the market fall in early 2022 and subsequent ongoing volatility.
As the average balance is skewed by a relatively small percentage of very high balance funds (see the following table showing the percentage of funds with various asset balances), the median balance in the second row of the table below is perhaps a more accurate reflection of the typical fund.
While the median balance per member has also been growing steadily, it is less than two thirds of the average balance per member. Bearing in mind that the majority of SMSFs in Australia have two members, the average and median combined balance of SMSF fund members is provided in the third and fourth rows of the table. These are the latest figures available.
|Average assets per member||$790,808||$695,757||$690,656||$657,543||$627,471|
|Median assets per member||$472,824||$414,912||$404,632||$382,380||$363,908|
|Average assets per SMSF||$1,472,106||$1,300,728||$1,296,648||$1,235,784||$1,180,824|
|Median assets per SMSF||$834,514||$733,926||$718,540||$679,079||$646,862|
The vast majority (86%) of SMSFs in Australia had balances greater than $200,000 in June 2021, as indicated in the table below. This is consistent with the generally held view that it is not cost effective to set up and run an SMSF with less than $200,000.
As our superannuation system matures, the percentage of funds with less than $200,000 is declining. At the other end of the scale, the ATO has only recently started providing figures for funds with $10 million to $20 million in assets, $20 million to $50 million and $50 million-plus.
|SMSF asset balance||Percentage of SMSFs|
Age and gender of SMSF members
Perhaps surprisingly, the age of SMSF members is fairly evenly spread between the ages of 35 and 84, as indicated in the table below. Older members still have the numbers though, as do men. As at June 2022, the median age of SMSF members was 62 while the median age of SMSF members of newly established funds was 46. Overall, 53% of all members are men and 47% are women.
|Age bracket||All members %|
SMSF trustee structures
According to the most recent statistics from the ATO, as at June 2022 approximately 66% of all SMSFs have corporate trustees while 34% have individual trustees. A corporate structure is becoming increasingly popular. In 2021–22, 86% of new funds were set up with a corporate trustee.
A majority of all the SMSFs in Australia (55%) were solely in the accumulation phase (that is, solely accepting contributions by or on behalf of members) in June 2021, down from 59% four years earlier. The remaining 45% of funds were either partially (9%) or wholly (36%) in the retirement phase (formerly called the pension phase). This was a 6 percentage point increase in members wholly in retirement phase, as the baby boomer bubble gradually leave the workforce.
Self-managed super funds are now firmly entrenched in the Australian superannuation landscape. The number of SMSFs continues to rise despite the market uncertainty in recent years, along with individual member and overall fund balances. Most SMSFs have corporate trustees, with this structure becoming increasingly popular. SMSFs typically have two members, with more women getting on board. And an increasing number of funds are moving from accumulation phase to the retirement phase, as the system matures and Australia’s population ages.