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SMSFs’ Use of Advisers Plummets

SMSFs’ Use of Advisers Plummets: A Changing Landscape in Financial Advice

Recent research from Financial Standard has revealed a significant decline in the number of Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) utilizing financial advisers. As of 2024, the number of SMSFs employing advisers has dropped to an all-time low of 140,000, down from 160,000 in 2023 and 205,000 in 2019. Currently, 475,000 SMSFs are navigating their financial landscapes without professional advice. This trend underscores a pivotal shift in how SMSF trustees are managing their funds and seeking—or not seeking—financial guidance.

Reasons for Not Seeking Advice

Several factors contribute to this decline in the use of financial advisers among SMSF trustees:

  1. Self-Management Confidence: Many SMSF trustees believe they possess the necessary knowledge and skills to manage their own finances. This confidence is bolstered by the plethora of online resources and tools available to them.
  2. Cost of Advisers: Financial advisers are often perceived as too expensive, particularly for trustees who believe they can achieve comparable results independently.
  3. Lack of Perceived Need: Some trustees do not feel the need for advice at this moment, possibly due to their confidence in managing their funds or a perception that their financial situations do not warrant professional input.
  4. Negative Past Experiences: Past bad experiences with advisers have left some trustees wary of seeking professional advice again.

Advice Needs for SMSFs

Despite the decline in adviser use, there remains a strong need for expert guidance in specific areas. Both established and newly formed SMSFs require assistance with complex financial and regulatory landscapes. Key areas of interest include:

  • SMSF Pension Strategies: Effective pension strategies are crucial for maximizing retirement outcomes.
  • Inheritance and Estate Planning: Proper planning ensures that wealth is transferred according to trustees’ wishes.
  • Investment Tax Planning: Strategic tax planning can significantly impact the financial health of an SMSF.
  • Regulatory Changes: Keeping abreast of the latest regulatory changes is essential for compliance and optimizing benefits.

Growing Interest in Digital Advice

In response to unmet advice needs, there is a burgeoning interest in digital advice and tools among SMSF trustees. Digital solutions are appealing due to their accessibility and often lower cost compared to traditional advisory services. The top areas of interest for digital advice include:

  • SMSF Contribution Strategies: Guidance on how to best contribute to their funds.
  • Investing for Regular Income: Strategies for generating a steady income stream from investments.
  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): Information on leveraging ETFs as part of their investment strategy.

Opportunities for Financial Advisers

Despite the decline in traditional adviser use, significant opportunities remain for financial advisers to provide valuable, tailored advice to SMSF trustees. Advisers can differentiate themselves by focusing on:

  • Pension Strategies: Helping trustees devise effective pension plans.
  • Estate Planning: Assisting with comprehensive inheritance and estate planning.
  • Regulatory Updates: Keeping trustees informed about important regulatory changes and how they impact their SMSFs.

Vanguard’s Perspective

Vanguard Australia emphasizes the crucial role of financial advisers in achieving better investment outcomes. They advocate for the continued importance of professional guidance, particularly on complex topics like pension strategies and estate planning.

Advisers’ Bias Towards Managed Funds and Platforms

An underlying issue contributing to the decline in adviser use among SMSF trustees is the perceived bias of financial advisers towards managed funds and investment platforms. Traditional financial advisers often recommend managed funds and platforms due to their structured nature and the commissions or fees associated with these products. This bias can be problematic for SMSF trustees who prefer direct investments in assets such as property, Bitcoin, or gold, which advisers typically do not recommend.

  1. Managed Funds and Platforms: Advisers are more likely to suggest investments in managed funds and platforms due to the ease of management and potential financial incentives.
  2. Direct Property Holdings: SMSF trustees with a preference for direct property investments often find that advisers lack expertise or willingness to recommend and manage such assets.
  3. Bitcoin and Gold: These alternative investments are also typically outside the scope of traditional advisers’ recommendations, leaving trustees who are interested in these assets without professional guidance.


Bridging the Gap: Advisers and SMSF Trustees

To bridge the gap between advisers and SMSF trustees, financial advisers need to expand their expertise and willingness to accommodate the diverse investment preferences of SMSF trustees. This includes:

  • Broadening Knowledge: Advisers should enhance their understanding of direct property investments, cryptocurrencies, and precious metals.
  • Tailored Advice: Providing bespoke advice that aligns with the unique goals and preferences of SMSF trustees.
  • Transparent Fee Structures: Offering clear and transparent fee structures to address concerns about the cost of advice.


The landscape of financial advice for SMSFs is undoubtedly shifting. While the use of traditional financial advisers is declining, there remains a critical need for expert guidance in complex financial areas. By embracing digital advice solutions and broadening their investment recommendations, financial advisers can continue to play a vital role in helping SMSF trustees achieve their financial goals. The future of SMSF advice lies in adaptability, transparency, and a commitment to meeting the evolving needs of trustees.


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Financial Standard: Article Link

Performance Comparison Chart (Annualized Returns)

Asset Class1-Year Return3-Year Return5-Year Return10-Year Return
Managed Funds7%5%6%7%
Shares (ASX 200)10%7%8%9%