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Why a Trading Company Should Not Act as Trustee of a SMSF

When you setup a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) and already have an established trading company, it is natural to ask if that company can be the Trustee of the new SMSF.

Whilst it’s possible for a company to act in multiple capacities, the preferred approach is that SMSF trustee company should be a “special purpose company” acting exclusively as the trustee of an SMSF.

Furthermore, if an individual or family group has more than one SMSF, a different special purpose company should be setup to act as trustee for each fund, with each company’s sole purpose to act as trustee of the relevant SMSF.

There are several reasons why a special purpose company should act as trustee of a SMSF:

  • There are specific rules for SMSFs as to who must be directors of the trustee company which may not be able to be satisfied if the company has other roles. If the company is running a business, it may need to appoint a new director from time to time. If that director is not also a member of the SMSF, there is a breach of the superannuation law.

  • SMSFs must ensure the fund has clear ownership of its investment assets and are required to hold their assets separately from the members’ personal or business assets. If the trustee is also a trading entity, there could be difficulties in identifying the assets of the SMSF as distinct from business assets.

  • The assets of the SMSF could be at risk if the company is sued in its non-SMSF capacity and vice versa if the company is sued in its trustee capacity.

  • If the company experiences financial difficulties due to its other activities, the trustee in bankruptcy may seek to make a claim over the SMSF’s assets.

Whilst establishing a new company comes with added expense, it saves a lot of headaches down the track. The good news is that reduced ASIC fees apply to special purpose companies (currently $55.00 per annum).


This information is provided solely for general information purposes and is not intended as professional advice. Readers should not act on the information contained therein without proper advice from a suitably qualified professional.

We expressly disclaim all liability for any loss or damage to any person or organisation for the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person relying on the contents of this information.


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