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How to start an SMSF


You can do this yourself, but you will need some help with the paperwork.

This help comes in the form of a set up pack with a comprehensive and easy to follow step by step guide which will guide you through each step and explain exactly what is required and why. Also if you have any queries or problems I am here to answer your questions. I am an Australian barrister and all the documents are carefully drafted and kept completely up to date. All work is fully insured under my professional insurance - see 10 good reasons to use my documents. I have hundreds of happy clients - see my testimonials on my home page. By all means contact me by email at or by mail at PO Box 354 Corinda QLD 4075 to discuss.

The steps required

The first thing you need to do is to decide whether to use individual trustees or a corporate trustee. This article will help you to decide this (opens in new window).

If you decide to use individual trustees then here is the sequence you need to follow:-

  1. Decide who are going to be members of the fund and who are going to be trustees.
  2. Decide on your smsf's name and check its availability.
  3. Decide how financial records and reporting is to be done.
  4. Each initial trustee must now sign a consent form.
  5. Prepare and execute trustees' declarations (witness required).
  6. Each initial trustees must now execute the trust deed (witness required).
  7. Prepare an investment strategy.
  8. Trustees decide to accept the investment strategy.
  9. Initial trustees are given the product disclosure statement (or they complete the sophisticated member declaration).
  10. Initial trustees apply to join the fund.
  11. Initial trustees provide their tax file number to the fund.
  12. Create and file the register of members of the fund including record of the tax file numbers.
  13. Establishment costs election to deal with initial funding.
  14. Register the superannuation fund with the ATO, and get an ABN and a TFN for it.
  15. Complete membership applications and make death benefit nominations.
  16. Open a bank account.
  17. Open a stockbroker's account.
  18. Rollover money from other funds into the smsf.

If you decide to use a corporate trustee then in the above steps it is the company which passes the resolutions and executes the trust deed etc. Also there are these additional steps:-

  1. Decide on the company's name and check its availability.
  2. Finalise the constitution and officeholder's consents.
  3. Complete form 201 (or use an online company registration service) and register (incorporate) the company.
  4. Create and file the register of members of the company (shareholders).
You can see that many of the steps are things that you would need to do anyway even if someone did the paperwork for you - for example, deciding on members, the fund name, preparing the investment strategy and signing and executing the documents. Other steps require some form filling and posting, such as applying to the ATO and to ASIC (if registering a company), but the step by step guide makes this easy for you.

The advantage of this procedure is that you are not paying someone else to do something which you could easily do yourself. Also you are not tied to a particular broker or type of investment (nor to what can be excessive fees when making investments). And you are not tied to a particular accountant or financial adviser or auditor. You are free to decide all these things yourself, and free to shop around for the best arrangements to suit you. You are also free (if you want) to do your own accounts: this is perfectly possible for a fund which is not investing in property using the Excel spreadsheets which come with the pack. These produce financial statements (accounts) based on the information you put in them, and provide you with the figures to insert in the annual tax return. You will need to send the financial statements (accounts) for audit every year, however.

All the forms you need are in the packs. The comprehensive and easy to follow step by step guide has been widely acclaimed - see the testimonials on my home page. If you have any queries or problems contact me by email at or by mail at PO Box 354 Corinda QLD 4075 to discuss.

Jeremy Gordon
24 February 2017

Copyright © Jeremy Gordon

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This article only applies to Australian self-managed superannuation schemes regulated by the Australian Tax Office.

This article does not arise from any instructions from you and it is not legal advice given to you. You should check for yourself about how to start an SMSF. If you follow the information on this page, you do so at your own risk.

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Jeremy Gordon is an Australian barrister. He can be contacted by email using or by mail at PO Box 354 Corinda QLD 4075.
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