What is a self-managed super fund?

A self-managed super fund (SMSF) is a private superannuation fund that you manage yourself. Unlike super funds, the members of an SMSF are responsible for all parts of the fund including taxation, investing, and compliance.

Essentially, an SMSF is a way of saving for your retirement that gives you ultimate responsibility over your superannuation.

Key facts about SMSFs

  • 597,900 Number of SMSFs in Australia at 30 June 2021 (ATO, 2023)
  • $8,200 Median total cost to run an SMSF in 2019-2020 (ATO, 2023)
  • 8+ hours Average time it takes per month to manage an SMSF (Moneysmart, 2023)

Pros and cons of opening an SMSF

While there are some benefits of opening an SMSF, it's important to understand some of the risks involved as well.

plus icon Benefits of an SMSF

  • You have complete control and flexibility over how your super is invested
  • You can buy direct residential property as an investment (but keep in mind you and your family can't live in it)
  • You can invest in rare asset classes like art, stamps, or physical gold (but keep in mind you and your family can't access or use them)
  • You have the freedom to make investment decisions quickly and change your assets as the market changes
  • You are able to align your investment strategy with your personal goals (for example, sustainable or ethical investing).

plus icon Disadvantages of an SMSF

  • You must comply with legal, compliance, and taxation requirements or you could face heavy fines or end up in court
  • It can be hard to maintain and very time-consuming, particularly with administration and reporting obligations
  • You need industry knowledge and it can be difficult to control your own investments. You may not end up with the returns you need to fund your retirement
  • Unlike other super funds, there is no compensation scheme to protect you from theft or fraud
  • It can be very expensive to manage, particularly if you have a lower account balance.

Lightbulb Did you know?
SMSFs with balances below $500,000 generally have lower returns after expenses and tax compared to other types of super funds (Productivity Commission, 2018).

Rollover to an SMSF

According to Moneysmart, you should only set up an SMSF if you are 100% committed and understand the level of work and risk involved. You should also speak to a financial adviser about whether it is the right option for you before taking action. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website has some good questions to ask yourself if you're thinking about setting up an SMSF.

Winding up an SMSF

Before you set up your SMSF, make sure you have a plan for how and when you want to close your account. If you decide you don’t want to manage your SMSF anymore, consider rolling over your money to a QSuper account, if you're eligible. More information about how to close your SMSF.

SuperStream for SMSF

SuperStream is an online messaging system between SMSFs, APRA funds, and the ATO to process rollovers of super.

Choose your own investments without starting an SMSF

You don't have to set up an SMSF to choose your own investments. If you want more control over your super, you can choose from a range of investment options without having to worry about the administration, compliance, and reporting obligations that come with managing an SMSF.


Choose from a range of pre-mixed investment options that offer diversification across investment groups. You can select one or more options that align to your goals.
Find out more

Single Sector

Our range of single-sector options let you further diversify your portfolio by specifying exactly how much of your super you want to invest in a single investment group.
Find out more

Choose your own investments today

If you're already a QSuper member, you can check or change your investment strategy by logging in to Member Online.

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