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What is an SMSF term deposit?
An SMSF term deposit is a type of savings account designed to help build your savings for retirement. They work in much the same way as normal term deposit accounts, however they're designed specifically for self-managed super funds, not everyday individual customers.
An SMSF term deposit allows you to invest a sum of money for a fixed period of time. During that time, the money earns a fixed interest rate. However in exchange for the fixed rate of return you're unable to access the money until the term comes to an end. Term deposits are set up so that it's difficult for you to access your money before the end of the term without incurring hefty fees.
Interest on an SMSF term deposit can be paid monthly, quarterly or at the end of the term.
SMSF term deposit rates explained
SMSF term deposits, like all term deposits, offer a fixed interest rate. This means the the interest rate will be locked in for the life of the term (that is, the period of time you've chosen). This is different to savings account which offer a variable interest rate and can change at any time with little notice.
A fixed interest rate can be both a good and bad thing. If interest rates are falling while you've already locked in a fixed rate it's good, as your rate won't fall. However if interest rates are rising, you'll be stuck with your lower fixed rate until the term deposit matures.
How to apply for an SMSF term deposit
If you wish to apply for an SMSF term deposit, you'll need to be a member of a complying SMSF. This means you'll need to be part of an SMSF with individuals as the fund trustees, or where a company is the trustee and each fund member is a director of that company.
Some banks will also place limits on the number of trustees a fund can have. For example, a bank may stipulate that to be eligible to open a Ubank SMSF term deposit you will need to be a member of an SMSF with a maximum of 2 individual trustees or a corporate trustee with no more than 2 directors.
Steps to apply for an SMSF term deposit
The exact application process for an SMSF term deposit varies depending on the financial institution. However, you will generally need to complete the following steps:
- Download an application form. Forms are available from the financial institution's website.
- Check that your fund is eligible. Read the fine print on the application form to ensure that your SMSF is eligible to open an account.
- Select the type of SMSF. You will need to specify whether your SMSF has individual trustees or a corporate trustee.
- Provide SMSF details. The next step is to enter your fund name and ABN if it has individual trustees, or the ABN and/or ACN of the corporate trustee. The names of individual trustees will also be required.
- Provide opening deposit details. Provide information about the amount you will deposit in the account and where the funds will come from; for example, a linked account or a bank cheque.
- Provide details of authorised account users. You will need to supply the names, positions, addresses and contact details of each authorised account user. All individual trustees must be authorised to use the account, while in the case of a company trustee, a minimum of two directors OR a director and a company secretary must be authorised users.
- Sign the application. If your fund has individual trustees, each trustee will need to sign the application. If there is a corporate trustee, at least two directors will typically need to sign.
- Submit your application. Submit your application form online along with any required supporting documentation.
Documents you'll need when opening an SMSF term deposit
The documents you need to supply when opening an SMSF term deposit will vary depending on whether your SMSF has an individual or corporate trustee structure. For SMSFs with individual trustees you will need to provide a certified copy of the relevant sections of the SMSF trust deed that clearly state:
- The name of your super fund
- The individuals listed in the application as the fund members and trustees
If the trustee of your SMSF is a company, your bank will need certified copies of the sections of the SMSF trust deed that identify the corporate entity as the trustee and the individuals listed as members.
Finally, remember that you will need to supply the details of each person authorised to use the account, including:
- Their full name
- Their address and contact details
- Their date of birth
- A certified copy of photo ID
Do I need to have an SMSF to open a term deposit?
No, you don't need to be a member of a self-managed super fund to open a term deposit. If you want to open a term deposit account you can do so by opening a standard term deposit account instead of a dedicated SMSF term deposit.
Term deposits are a popular investment choice for individuals as well as SMSFs because they offer a fixed, reliable return on your money.
Benefits of an SMSF term deposit
Some of the key benefits include:
- Provides a fixed interest rate and fixed rate of return on a portion of your SMSF funds
- Term deposits are a safe way to invest your SMSF cash as your deposit up to $250,000 is covered by the government's bank guarantee scheme
- Because the rate is fixed, term deposits are protected by any major market falls or cash rate movements
- You can choose how often you want to receive interest payments
- SMSF term deposits are quick and easy to open
Why should I invest in an SMSF term deposit?
Your SMSF isn't required to invest any money at all in an SMSF term deposit, it's not mandatory to do so. However, you might decide that it's a good fit within your wider SMSF investment strategy to do so. There are many pros and cons of an SMSF, but one of the biggest advantages is the ability to control how your money is invested.
Depending on your fund's investment strategy, you'll likely have a portion of your investment allocated towards defensive or lower risk assets. This is a well-known way to reduce your investment risk and protect a portion of your balance in the event that share markets and property markets crash or experience volatility. However, the amount that you decide to invest in defensive assets will entirely depend on your fund's investment strategy.
As of December 2021, cash and term deposits account for 16.86% of all asset allocations for SMSFs according to Australian Government data. This is even slightly higher than property, which accounts for 16.02% of SMSF investments.
An SMSF term deposit is a good defensive option in your portfolio as it allows you to enjoy a safe and steady return on your investment, while the fixed interest rate protects your investment from rate movements.