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Some lenders will allow you to switch to a full doc loan for a small fee after two years of perfect conduct (on time repayments).

Some lenders will require full income verification such as tax returns when you want to switch to a full doc loan or if you try to switch when you do not have two years of good conduct. With other lenders there is no need to switch because low doc and full doc loans have the same interest rate.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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Because of the large variation between lenders it is essential that you talk to an expert to find the best deal for you. In fact, with Low Doc loans there are now basic loan and professional package discounts available from some lenders, just like with Full Doc loans!

There are also major differences between lenders in their LMI premiums, application fees and valuation fees that they will waive. This information is not published by lenders, but it is known by mortgage brokers!

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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The major difference between a low doc loan and a standard home loan is that borrowers are not required to provide the same level of tax returns, financial statements, pay slips or other documentation to prove their savings/credit history, earnings and financial position.

Instead they sign a declaration stating their current income, and the lender uses this to process the application. But this does not mean low doc loans are always easier to get; they are in fact generally harder – and they often cost more. Lenders will usually charge a slightly higher interest rate than the standard variable, and the loan to value ratio (LVR) is generally restricted to below 80 per cent.

The LVR is defined as a percentage of the property’s value that is mortgaged – for example if you buy a home for $500,000 and have borrowed $400,000, then your LVR is 80 per cent. To ensure that the purchase price of the property is a true reflection of its actual value, lenders will usually require an independent valuation of the property the borrower proposes to purchase.

It’s also worth knowing that following the turbulence in financial markets since 2008, low doc loans are becoming more difficult to obtain now due to tightening credit standards of lenders.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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Posted by on in Low Doc Loans

Low-documentation or low-doc loans are for people - generally the self-employed - who have difficulty getting the documentation together that is required to get a traditional home loan. Low-doc loans differ from another relatively new loan in the marketplace that is also gaining popularity - non-conforming loans (See article: What is a non-conforming loan?) Low-doc loans have become very popular over the past few years and industry figures state they comprise around 10 per cent of all mortgage loans written. Traditionally, the interest rate offered on these types of loans was higher than for the standard variable rate but recently they tend to be offered at similar rates. While lenders have various methods of establishing whether they will lend someone money, there are some major differences between mainstream and low-doc loans. Differences between standard and low-doc loans.

  • low-doc loans do not require traditional proof of income such as company financials or tax returns
  • borrowers seeking a low-doc loan generally complete a declaration that confirms they can afford the loan. This is known as self-certification.
  • Low-doc loans tend to be more attractive to self-employed people or full-time investors who may have difficulty showing a high level of income, as a result of either writing off a number of expenses, reinvesting profits into a business, or being slow in lodging their tax returns.

Borrowing tips Borrowers wishing to obtain a low-doc loan will normally need to satisfy three requirements:

  • self-certify their income;
  • confirm their self-employment status (if appropriate) - usually with a registered ABN or accountant's letter; and
  • have a clean credit history and good repayment record for existing or previous loans.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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If you have found that you are struggling with your repayments you may not think you are in a position to refinance your mortgage. However if you approach your lender when you first find you are struggling they are likely to do everything they can to avoid you defaulting on your loan.

If you find you can’t comfortably meet your mortgage repayments any more you might be able to refinance your loan to extend the term and reduce the payments, or switch to a more basic loan with a lower interest rate.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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A basic home loan can suit you when you first have a mortgage because it allows you to concentrate on making repayments without being distracted or being charged additional fees. However if you are ready to really take control of your mortgage, you may want more flexibility with a loan with an offset account for example. This will allow you to combine all of your savings and transaction accounts into your home loan account to offset your interest and make sure you pay minimal interest.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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Another popular reason to refinance is to consolidate debts. This may involve adding a car loan, credit card loan or personal loan into your mortgage to take advantage of the lower rate typical of a home loan.

While the benefit can mean being able to rapidly pay off your debt, this kind of refinance requires strict discipline. If you roll your credit card debt into your mortgage for example, but then make regular payments, the shorter term debts you consolidated will now be paid off with your mortgage, taking as long as 25 - 30 years.

However, if additional repayments are made towards the loan then this will work to pay off the debt.

CASE STUDY - Matthew’s debt doubt

Matthew has a $300,000 loan remaining on his home. He also has a credit card debt which has gradually spiralled out of control, and sits at $20,000. Matthew wants to refinance and consolidate his credit card debt into his home loan, increasing the balance to $320,000. While he may think this is the best option to get him out of strife, Matthew’s overlooking how interest will impact his debts.

$20,000 at 5% interest over 25 years = Interest of $15,075 (monthly repayments of $117)

$20,000 at 18.5% interest over 5 years = Interest of $10,799 (monthly repayments of $513)

As can be seen, while the monthly repayments are much lower with a lower interest rate over 25 years, the interest Matthew will pay is much higher.

In this case sometimes a balance transfer is a good option to take.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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Refinancing to renovate is another popular reason why borrowers leave their current lenders for greener pastures. There are a number of loans available for those refinancing for renovations: construction home loans and line of credit home loans. A construction loan is more appropriate for structural renovations where serious work is carried out to the home including new piping, wiring, walls or adding a floor to the home.

Where smaller, cosmetic renovations are carried out such as the installation of a new bathroom or kitchen, products such as a line of credit loans or even personal loans can be used.

Below are some of the reasons why refinancing can be a good idea for renovating:

  • To access the equity in your loan to fund the renovations. If your home is valued at more than the amount you owe on your loan you can refinance your loan to access that equity and then draw down on that amount to pay for your renovations.
  • To increase cash flow during the renovation process. When you are renovating your home you are channelling a lot of your extra money into contractors, fixtures and fittings, and this can be a good time to refinance to an interest only loan to reduce the amount you need to pay towards your loan each month.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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It’s no surprise that this is one of the most common reasons why Australians refinance their mortgages, but it’s not always the best. Before you leave your home loan in search of a lower rate, make sure you calculate all of the fees and charges which will be associated with your new loan, as well as comparing the interest rates.

Also take into account your current home loan features. If you stand to lose features such as free redraws, branch access, free additional repayments or a 100% offset account, you might need to carry out some number crunching first to see the costs vs rewards.

Some industry experts give the rule of thumb that if the savings made from refinancing take more than two years to start paying off then refinancing may not be the best choice. In some cases it’s a good idea to approach your current lender first, tell them you’re thinking of refinancing, and asking for a lower rate.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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Posted by on in Refinancing

Fees charged by your current lender

  1. Discharge fees
  2. Exit fees (These now only apply to fixed rates and loans entered into before July 2011)
  3. Registration fees

Fees charged by your new lender

  1. Application fees
  2. Valuation fees
  3. Settlement fees
  4. Legal fees
  5. Lender’s Mortgage Insurance, even if you’ve paid it for your current lender
  6. For those living in VIC, NSW, TAS, WA or SA, in some cases stamp duty will need to be paid on the new mortgage.

Estimates about the cost of refinancing vary between $500 to over $3000, so you should ask your current lender, as well as your potential lender what costs you’ll be up for before considering refinancing.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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Even if you’re as careful as you can be when selecting a home loan, there are always circumstances when a refinance could be in order. Maybe a new addition to the family has come along, requiring some financial belt-tightening, or maybe you’re unhappy with your current lender or loan features.

In fact according to the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia’s Home Finance Index for March 2013, almost one quarter of Australians have refinanced in the last two years.

The biggest reasons are:

  1. Home renovations
  2. A better deal or rate
  3. To consolidate existing debts
  4. Buying or building a new home

But as we know, refinancing isn’t as simple as finding a better interest rate. Refinancing comes with costs, so you should work out if these are outweighed by the potential benefits.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

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A beautiful wedding, a baby on the way…

Next step… a beautiful 3-bedroomed home in a nice suburb.

There are many reasons to join the property market and buy your own home right now…

  • Interest rates in Australia are at an all-time low and no-one knows how long this reprieve will last.
  • You therefore have the opportunity to enter the property market and purchase your dream home with lower repayments – and the chance to finish paying back your home loan sooner.
  • Odds are, you’d rather live in your own home when you retire. And purchasing it now will ensure that you’re done paying for it long before then.
  • Plus, the government wants you to own a family home. And they’re providing ever more favourable social security and tax rules to home owners (Source: Sydney Morning Herald). This could potentially help you grow your wealth.

As a first time home buyer, it seems there is no better time than now to purchase that dream home. But in order to survive financially, you need to take to heart the following advice.

  1. Save for your deposit

Saving up for at least 20% of the deposit you require for your new home is the ideal. This lowers your monthly repayments and you will have extra money for your family. Also, you avoid paying for a rather expensive fee in the form of the Lenders Mortgage Insurance (Source: Westpac). Plus, the practice of setting aside at least 30% of your salary each month will help you easily manage your loan repayments once you’ve purchased your home.

  1. Budget for your loan repayments

One of the biggest mistakes made by my clients is that they fail to factor into their budgets the amount they’ll need to repay every month. They assume, sometimes mistakenly, that they will be able to afford an extra $2000 or $4000 without much hassle. However, budgeting for your loan repayments will help you settle on a price point for your new home that you can afford.

  1. Budget for hidden costs

Buying a new home is a costly affair – but there are hidden costs that will take you by surprise if you haven’t factored them into your plans. The state will charge you stamp duty on the purchase price of your home, and the fee varies in different territories. Other costs include insurance, real estate agent fees, pest and building inspection fees, etc. But you can be sure that Phil at A2Z Securities will hold your hand and give you all the details of these fees. We guarantee that nothing will take you by surprise.

  1. Take advantage of the first home owner grant

Each state offers you, the new home owner, a grant that you can use towards the purchase of your first home. With a grant ranging from $7,000 to $30,000, you will want to find out from us if you are eligible. And we will also help you with the application process as well.

You see, buying a home is a lot like planning to take a 6-month long trip around the world. If this is your first long trip, it’s not going to be easy planning, saving, booking and coordinating all the activities, accommodation and travel. The same goes for buying a home for the first time. Without the help of someone who’s been through this, is a professional, and has the skills, resources and knowledge to guide you, you may end up in big trouble.

For a confidential discussion about your options call us on (07) 3263 2226 or contact us.

 

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Running and managing a home is a full-time job – I know, I have 4 little ones all below the age of 10. And it’s even more daunting to try and stretch mum and dad’s incomes to meet the immediate needs of the home.

There is no time or headspace to even begin to think about the future. But as parents who have brought little ones into the world, no one understands better than I do the need to provide for them not only now, but later in life.

Robert Kiyosaki aptly puts it this way:

It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” (Source: Investopedia)

  1. “It’s not how much money you make”

Some parents may argue that they really don’t make enough to be able to invest their money. My question to you is…   Can you really afford to NOT invest? You see, the actual amount of money you make really doesn’t matter. It’s the way that you use the money (or keep it) that does. Without an investment mindset, it is entirely possible to make a million bucks by the time you’re 25 and blow it all before your 27th birthday. I can assure you that you can save for that holiday to Italy, or the yacht that you’ve been wanting since your twenties. And your children’s university education.

  1. “But how much money you keep”

Looking to set up a university fund for your children, then just $500 dollars a month can get you started (Source: News.com.au). And I have to mention here that you should not be swayed by market and investment fluctuations. Have investment goals and set plans for getting there. If you’re really at a loss as to where to begin, then give us a call on 02 9025 3760

  1. “How hard it works for you”

There are really only 2 main ways to make money: work for it, or let the money work for you to make more money. And in most cases, we fall into the trap of working harder and harder to make more money. What happens when we can’t work anymore? Wouldn’t it be great to have the option to stop working altogether much sooner than retirement, knowing that you have grown your wealth and your money is hard at work for you? Let your money work for you through investments, and have someone else pay you to use your money.

  1. “And how many generations you keep it for”

Can you imagine what would happen to your children if you had to be incapacitated for a long period of time? Would they be able to survive without a stable income from your job every month? Imagine the financial intelligence you’d provide your children if you taught them the skills of growing, not just using up, wealth. Imagine the day when you’re gone, but your family is well catered for because of the legacy you’ve set up for them through solid, planned investments

If this is you, then you should consider speaking to us about your financial investments. This is the best time to get on board – tomorrow you’ll have lost out on one more day when your money could be working for you, and multiplying for your future.

 

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Posted by on in SMSF

In order to be a trustee of an SMSF, you need to be 18 or older and eligible to be a trustee.

Under superannuation law, you may not be eligible to be a trustee in some circumstances - such as if you are bankrupt, mentally impaired or if you have certain criminal convictions.

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You can use your SMSF to buy residential or commercial property. However, any property held by your SMSF must meet the sole purpose test of providing retirement benefits to fund members, or a benefit to their dependants if a member dies before retirement.

  • Residential property: there is nothing to prevent an SMSF from investing in residential property as long as the property is not acquired from a related party of a member.
  • However, the family home cannot be owned by your super fund. Nor can you rent a residential property owned by your SMSF to a fund member, or to their related parties.
  • However, you can buy an investment property of your choice that you rent out to tenants who are not fund members or their relatives.
  • Commercial property: you can also hold commercial property, including your own business premises, in your SMSF.

While the property still needs to meet the sole purpose test, when dealing with commercial property, an SMSF can generally purchase the property and lease it back to a member or a related party of the fund – including the member’s business.

An arm’s length sale price and lease arrangement will be particularly important when acquiring and / or leasing property to a member or related party of the fund.

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Posted by on in SMSF

In simple terms, a self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) is a small super fund that is managed by its members, with its primary purpose being to provide retirement benefits for its members, or a benefit to their dependants if a member dies before retirement.

In other superannuation funds, such as large retail, corporate or industry funds, there can be thousands of members but they are not the managers of the fund – so they are not responsible for managing the fund's investments or compliance with superannuation law.

SMSFs can provide you with greater control, flexibility, and transparency of your super.

  • You control how to invest your superannuation money.
  • You have the flexibility to pick and choose from a wider range of investments. These can include direct shares, term deposits, and even property.
  • Since you are in control, you can choose to invest directly in shares for companies that you are familiar with or you can work with professionals to build a portfolio of shares that best meets your needs.
  • With an SMSF you can view your individual share holdings, see your term deposits, check your cash balance and keep track of rental income from your property.
  • You have greater visibility of the assets your super is invested in and how they are performing at any given time.

Running your own super fund means that you can monitor and control almost all of your fund's transactions, which will give you a clearer picture of your fund's running expenses.

And, as many of these expenses may be fixed dollar amounts, the general rule is that the bigger your total fund size, the more cost effective it becomes to run a self managed super fund.

While there is little doubt that an SMSF can provide you with greater control, flexibility, and transparency of your super, it must also be remembered that along with these benefits comes additional risk and complexity.

Self managed super funds are not for everybody.

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Posted by on in SMSF

One of the benefits of a self-managed super fund may be lower costs than you might be charged in a retail, industry or corporate superannuation fund, which could mean more money for you at retirement.

There are several costs to be aware of in the set-up and, more importantly over the long-term, the ongoing management of your SMSF.

The main costs of an SacMSF relate to:

  • Set-up costs: these are one-off set-up costs for registering your fund, preparing your fund’s trust deed, establishing a company if you elect the corporate trustee structure and any other professional services you use to start your self-managed super fund.
  • Ongoing administration costs: these are the recurring costs associated with running your fund such as fund administration, compliance and audit costs.
  •  Portfolio costs: these include investment charges and professional advice fees.

Contact us for an estimate of the costs associated with setting up and running your own SMSF.

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There could be several benefits of buying property through an SMSF and these include:

  • Tax savings: if you buy and hold property within your SMSF until you retire and start taking a pension from your fund, it will generally be exempt from capital gains tax when the fund sells the property.  Also, any income received by your fund (ie rent received) while you are drawing a pension will be completely tax free.  Before you start to draw a pension from your SMSF, any rental income generated will be taxed at a maximum of 15%. And, if the fund sells the property after holding it for at least one year, your fund will also only pay capital gains tax on the sale of the property of up to 10%.  Comparatively, if you were to buy the same property in your own name, rental income would be taxed at your personal tax rate (which could be as high as 46.5%). This would also apply to any capital gains tax payable on the sale of the property (albeit after receiving a 50% reduction if the property was held more than one year).
  • You may not be able to afford to buy property in your own name: however you, and other members of the fund, might have a reasonable amount of combined super saved inside your fund. Buying property in your fund might be a good way to achieve your goal of owning an investment property or owning your own business premises.
  • Benefits for business owners: if you own your business premises through your super fund, and you lease it to your business, you will need to pay rent to your superannuation fund which is generally tax deductible to your business. Given the relatively low concessional contribution limits that are currently available, paying rent to your super fund could be a great way to accelerate your retirement savings without going over the contribution limits.
  • Asset protection: assets held in a superannuation fund (including property) are generally protected from creditors in the event of bankruptcy. However, before you decide to invest in property through your SMSF, there are several things you should consider. These include:
    • Investment strategy: any investment made by your SMSF must align with its investment strategy.
    • Diversification: property generally has a significant value and may reduce diversification in your portfolio,    depending on the value of your fund’s other investments and what asset classes those investments are in.
    • Liquidity: the nature of property could make it difficult to dispose of quickly. You should check whether your fund is sufficiently liquid and able to pay expenses and benefits as and when the need arises without having to sell the property at short notice.

Contact us for more information

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Posted by on in SMSF

1. Do you have enough super savings for an SMSF to be a cost effective option right now?

Unless you do, it might be advisable to wait. In keeping with guidance from the Australian Taxation Office, AMP generally recommends that an SMSF has at least $200,000 in super savings to be a cost effective option. That's because, for amounts under $200,000, the fees on a typical retail, industry or corporate super fund are generally cheaper. You should check the fees charged on your existing super account to check whether this is true for you. That said, it's important to remember that this recommended $200,000 balance relates to the total amount to be held in your SMSF. So, this includes your super savings as well as the super savings of any other fund members (eg your spouse or children).

2. Do you have time to manage your fund?

You should be prepared to spend time setting up your SMSF and then managing it on an ongoing basis. It typically takes around six to eight weeks to set up an SMSF, but can take longer depending on the parties involved eg other institutions you are rolling your super from. Some of the steps involved in completing the set-up of a new fund require some planning. This includes:

  • applying for your fund's ABN and TFN
  • setting up a bank account for your fund
  • deciding on your fund's investment strategy
  • requesting rollovers from your existing super fund
  • setting up insurance through your fund, and
  • keeping on top of administration to ensure your fund complies with the law.

We can help make setting up your fund easy.

How much time you spend managing your fund will depend on your circumstances. However, research by Investment Trends, shows that a self managed super fund trustee spends on average approximately eight hours managing their own administration, compliance, reporting and investment research each month.

Some of the main tasks include:

  • managing your investments
  • managing your fund's administration, and
  • staying up-to-date with relevant super and tax changes, as well as other issues that affect your fund, like changes in interest rates and market conditions.

The amount of time required to manage your fund's investments may depend on your investment strategy and personal interests. For example, some people enjoy buying and selling shares, which generally involves monitoring the share market regularly. Other people prefer to invest in assets that don't generally require such frequent attention, like an investment property.

Compulsory administrative tasks that you'll have to stay on top of include record keeping, tax and audit documentation. People who have an SMSF often look for ways to minimise the time spent on fund administration and compliance because it doesn't directly contribute to the returns of the fund. This is where SMSF specialists, like AMP SMSF Solutions can help. They can reduce the time you need to spend on ongoing fund administration tasks, by providing services and tools to help with your fund's administration, compliance and paperwork, so you have more time to focus on what's important to you.

However, it is important to remember that, ultimately, you (and the other fund members) are responsible for your fund's ongoing compliance. And, if things go wrong, there can be significant penalties.

You must also act in the best interests of all fund members. This means you need to stay on top of any changes to relevant super and tax rules, as well as the changing needs of your fund's members.

To make the most of investment opportunities, you should be aware of the broad economic trends that might impact the fund's investments eg being aware that, as interest rates drop, so may the returns on the fund's cash assets.

3. Do you feel confident setting and managing your own investment strategy?

This is a key consideration for people who are considering setting up their own SMSF. The general process when designing an investment strategy involves:

  • determining the investment needs of each fund member, including their investment time horizon and appetite for risk
  • identifying the investment building blocks you need to meet members' needs eg cash, property, direct shares, managed funds or other investment assets, and
  • selecting the individual investments you want to make, and considering the insurance needs of fund members and determining whether it is appropriate for you to hold insurance within the SMSF.

Once you have prepared your investment strategy, you should regularly review your strategy and monitor your fund's investments to ensure they are on track. We can refer you to a financial planner if you would like help setting your fund's investment strategy.

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When you are setting up an SMSF, there are 10 key steps to follow and important decisions to make to set your SMSF on the right course.

1. Consider your personal circumstances

You should consider your personal circumstances before deciding whether an SMSF is right for you. We can help you assess your situation and help you make a decision.

2. Work out how best to structure your fund

When you set up your fund, you can choose for the fund to have either individual trustees or a corporate trustee. The structure you choose will influence how you administer your fund, so it's important you choose a structure that meets your needs. For example, some things to consider include how many members your fund will have and if you plan to invest in property within your super.

3. Create your SMSF and trust deed

As your SMSF is a trust, you need to complete all the paperwork to set up the fund, including the trust deed.

A trust deed is a legal document which establishes a trust (in this case, the SMSF) and sets out the terms of the trust.

If you use a specialist SMSF service like us, it’s easy to set up your fund, simply provide us with the key details. We’ll take care of all the paperwork to help you set up your fund, including the legal requirements such as creating the fund’s trust deed and product disclosure statement. We’ll also help with the documents to appoint your fund’s trustees and members.

4. Register your SMSF with the ATO

Once your fund is set up and the corporate trustee or individual trustees have been appointed, you’ll need to register with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

We can register your fund with the ATO on your behalf. We prepare a notice of election to become a regulated fund and register your fund for an Australian Business Number (ABN), a Tax File Number (TFN) and for Goods and Services Tax (GST).

5. Set up a fund bank account and rollover your super

Your super fund will need to have its own bank account to accept contributions or fund transactions and pension payments.  We can also assist with transferring your existing super from other funds into your SMSF.

6. Prepare an investment strategy

Your fund must have an investment strategy, which is like a mini business plan for your SMSF, providing a guide for your investment decisions. Your strategy must be in writing and take into account things such as your risk profile, as well as your fund’s investment objectives and cash flow. If you would like help, AMP SMSF specialists can help you prepare an investment strategy that’s right for you.

7. Consider insurance

Under SMSF rules, you are required to consider the life insurance needs of the fund’s members as part of your SMSF’s investment strategy.

We can help you with life insurance, total and permanent disablement (TPD) and income protection solutions.

8. Start investing

This is where you begin to take control of your super and, guided by your investment strategy, decide how and where you will invest your super money. SMSFs generally have a mix of cash, term deposits, direct equities, managed funds and property. If you’d like advice in these or other areas, we can help you.

9. Manage your SMSF

SMSF compliance can be complex and having a quality support team to help manage your fund can be helpful.  We can help with the day-to-day running of your fund, which enables you to focus on investing and tracking your super balance.

10. Keep informed

As a trustee (or a director of a corporate trustee), you have certain responsibilities and one of them is to stay on top of changes in superannuation and tax laws and regulations, as these changes may impact your trustee responsibilities. We can update you on key regulatory changes.

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DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this website is provided for general education purposes only and does not constitute specialist advice. It should not be relied upon for the purposes of entering into any legal or financial commitments. Specific investment advice should be obtained from a suitably qualified professional before adopting any investment strategy.

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