What is a self managed super fund?

A self managed super fund (also known as an SMSF) allows you to manage your own superannuation investments for your retirement. Setting up your own superannuation isn’t right for everyone, so it’s important to understand the basics before getting started. 

An SMSF is a superannuation fund that you manage yourself

Most people have their super with a fund that is managed by a third party – a fund manager, a large corporation or an industry body. You can also manage your own super fund - this is known as an SMSF.

How does an SMSF work?

An SMSF works the same as any regular larger superannuation fund, but there are some differences in how they are regulated by the government and how they are administered. One key difference between SMSFs and larger funds is that they must have no more than four members. In addition, the fund is run by all the members collectively.

Who can be a member?

An SMSF can have no more than four members at any one time who are generally, though not always, members of the same family. A member cannot be an employee of another member unless they are related. 

Who can be a trustee?

An SMSF is in essence just a trust and like any trust is run by the trustees. There are two SMSF trustee structures: 

  1. Where members are appointed as trustee in their individual capacity.
  2. Where a company is appointed as the trustee, with the SMSF’s members being the directors of that company.

In both cases, it’s the members who run the fund as a general rule, all members are either trustees themselves or directors of the corporate trustee and trustees cannot be paid for carrying out their trustee duties.

Who can't be a trustee?

Certain people cannot act as an individual trustee or a director of a corporate trustee of an SMSF – this includes individuals who have been:

  • convicted of an offence involving dishonest conduct
  • subject to civil penalty under the superannuation legislation
  • insolvent or under administration (an undischarged bankrupt)
  • disqualified from acting as a trustee.

Next: What are the benefits of a self managed super fund (SMSF)?

There are a number of benefits to an SMSF. We explore the main benefits to setting up an SMSF and managing your own superannuation. Learn more with BT.
As with other aspects of self managed super funds there are rules around who can be a Trustee or Director of the corporate Trustee of your SMSF. This article explains some of those Trustee rules.
As the Trustee or Director of the corporate trustee of your SMSF it is essential that you understand the stringent rules that apply. Here we look at some of the key rules.
Not sure if an SMSF is right for you? It’s important to consider the costs of setting up an SMSF before you get started. Learn more with BT.

Learn about managing your own super, frequently asked questions and more. 

Learn about SMSF

Find out how BT can help you set up, invest and manage your SMSF – all in one place.

Find out more


The information in this document has been prepared by BT Portfolio Services Ltd ABN 73 095 055 208 AFSL 233715 (BTPS) and is current as at 2 December 2016. The information provided is general in nature and does not take into account your personal needs, objectives or circumstances and therefore, before acting on it, you should consider whether it is appropriate for you.

BTPS operates BT Panorama Investments (the investor directed portfolio service operated by BTPS). BT Funds Management Limited ABN 63 002 916 458 AFSL 233724 (BTFM) is the responsible entity and issuer of interests in BT Cash and Westpac Financial Services Ltd ABN 20 000 241 127 AFSL 233716 is the responsible entity and issuer of interests in BT Managed Portfolios. An Investor Guide is available for BT Panorama Investments and a PDS is available for BT Cash and BT Managed Portfolios (the Panorama products). These disclosure documents can be obtained from BTPS by visiting www.bt.com.au/smsf or calling 1300 554 267. A person should obtain and consider the disclosure documents before deciding whether to acquire, continue to hold or dispose of interests in the Panorama products.

In addition, BTPS is the provider of the Panorama SMSF Establishment Service and the Panorama SMSF Administration Service. The Guide and Terms and Conditions for these services are available by visiting www.bt.com.au/smsf or calling 1300 554 267.

BTPS, BTFM and WFSL are subsidiaries of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 (Westpac). Apart from any interest investors may have in Westpac term deposits or securities acquired through Panorama, an investment in or acquired through Panorama is not an investment in a bank or a bank deposit. Westpac and its related entities do not guarantee an investment in or acquired through Panorama Investments.