Sign up for updates

Investor Education > Self Managed Super Funds > How to establish an SMSF


There are a number of steps to go through to complete when setting up an SMSF. These are:

Step 1: Decide on the trustee structure
Do you and your fellow members want to be ‘individual trustees’ or a ‘corporate trustee’? This is a very important consideration, as it impacts on a range of other steps, such as the investment name(s) and how the fund is operated.

Step 2: Prepare a trust deed
The trust deed is a legal document that sets out the rules for establishing and running your fund and, along with the superannuation laws, governs how your fund is run.

Step 3: Trustee declarations
All new trustees must sign a ‘trustee declaration’ within 21 days of becoming a trustee or director of a corporate trustee. This form requires you to acknowledge you understand:

  • the general duties you will need to meet.
  • your fund is to be maintained for the “sole purpose” of providing benefits to your members upon their retirement or death.
  • the rules that apply when making contributions, purchasing and managing investments and paying benefits.
  • your legal and other obligations.

Step 4: Record TFNs
Your fund will need to record each member’s Tax File Number (TFN). If it doesn’t, your fund:

  • won’t be able to accept personal after-tax super contributions and contributions on behalf of a spouse, and
  • will need to deduct additional tax from employer contributions and contributions claimed as a tax deduction.

Step 5: Open a bank account
Your SMSF will need a bank account so it can accept cash contributions, pay fund expenses, receive income from investments, and pay benefits to members. The account needs to be opened in the names of your fund’s trustees and the money must be kept completely separate from your personal or business assets.

Step 6: Register with ATO
Your fund needs to be registered with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) within 60 days of being established. You’ll need to elect for your fund to be regulated, so it will be eligible for the superannuation tax concessions. Once the ATO has approved your fund’s registration, you will be issued with a TFN and ABN for your fund.

Step 7: Investment strategy
A written investment strategy must be prepared for your fund that takes into account all your members’ needs and circumstances before any investments can be made. The investment strategy needs to:

  • define the fund’s objectives, and
  • outline the investments that will be made to achieve the objectives.

Step 8: Contributions and rollovers
Cash contributions can be made into your fund (provided it is compliant). Money can also be rolled over (transferred) directly from another complying super fund.

Step 9: Appoint professionals
You need to appoint an independent auditor to review your fund’s activities annually and ensure it complies with the relevant laws. You may also want to use the services of other professionals, such as accountants, lawyers, financial or investment advisers, or fund administrators.

Step 10: Plan for the future
Provided the SMSF’s trust deed allows it your members should consider nominating who they would like to receive their super in the event of their death. Your fund may also want to take a range of insurances for fund members. This can make the cover more affordable than if your members’ bought it themselves outside of super.


Australian shares
International shares
Fixed income


Investment products

Managed Funds
Managed Accounts
Superannuation Funds
Wrap Accounts
Insurance Bonds


St George Margin Lending
BT Margin Lending
Investment Bond
Sophisticated Investor Opportunities
Self Managed Super Funds

Fund managers

Colonial First State
Perpetual Wealthfocus
BT Investment Funds
MLC Masterkey
Spectrum Super

Australian Fund Managers

Investor Education

Managed investments
Separately managed accounts
Wrap accounts


© 2020 DIRECTINVEST 2016   |  A member of Mason Stevens Group |  ABN 89 069 774 456 

Corporate Authorised Representative AR No 336649  | Financial Services Guide