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How to apply for an SMSF term deposit online

It’s quick and easy to apply for a self-managed super fund term deposit online. Here’s what you need to do to open an account.

If you’re looking to give your retirement plans a financial boost, a self-managed super fund (SMSF) term deposit could be the solution you need. Offering high interest rates and minimal fees, these accounts allow you to invest a portion of your superannuation balance for a predetermined period of time and earn a fixed interest rate.

Compare SMSF term deposits

SMSF term deposits are offered by a large number of banks, building societies and credit unions across Australia. They allow you to enjoy a safe and steady return on your investment, which in turn allows you to build a bigger balance to fund your retirement.

To be eligible for an SMSF term deposit, you’ll need to be a member of an SMSF that complies with any rules and regulations imposed on the account by your bank. It’s also essential to compare a range of SMSF term deposits before you open an account, as this will ensure that you choose the best account for your needs.

What is a self-managed super fund?

Just like any other super fund, an SMSF is a superannuation fund designed to help you save for your retirement.

But SMSFs have one key difference to regular super funds: the members of an SMSF are also the fund’s trustees. By establishing an SMSF, you can enjoy increased control over your retirement planning, ensuring that you can prepare for a financially secure future.

SMSFs can have between one and four members, unlike industry and retail super funds, which are run to benefit a much larger group of members. So while industry and retail funds are run in the collective interests of a big group, SMSFs are run to benefit the financial goals and needs of a very small group of individuals.

What is an SMSF term deposit?

An SMSF term deposit is a type of bank account designed to help you build your savings for retirement. Unlike ordinary term deposit accounts, which are designed to be opened by individuals or businesses, these accounts are specifically tailored for SMSFs.

A term deposit allows you to invest a sum of money for a fixed period of time. During that time, the money earns a fixed high interest rate, providing you with a steady way to increase your retirement savings.

Term deposits are set up so that it is difficult for you to access your money before the end of the term without incurring hefty fees. In this way, you are protected against any interest rate falls and against the temptation to dip into your savings. However, this also means you will not be able to take advantage of any interest rate rises that may occur.

Interest on an SMSF term deposit can be paid monthly, quarterly or at the end of the term. Many (but not all) SMSF term deposits can be applied for online through the website of the financial institution offering the account.

What documentation is needed to apply for an SMSF term deposit?

If you wish to apply for an SMSF term deposit, you will need to be a member of a complying SMSF. This means you will 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, to be eligible to open a UBank SMSF term deposit you will need to be a member of an SMSF with a maximum of two individual trustees or a corporate trustee with no more than two directors.

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

How 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:

  1. Download an application form. Forms are available from the financial institution’s website.
  2. 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.
  3. Select the type of SMSF. You will need to specify whether your SMSF has individual trustees or a corporate trustee.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Submit your application. Submit your application form online along with any required supporting documentation.

Did you have these questions about SMSF term deposits?

SMSF Notice Savers

It’s a sensible strategy to hold retirement savings in an account where you don’t have immediate access to the funds. Not only does this encourage good savings habits, but you’re frequently rewarded with a competitive interest rate and no account-keeping fees.

However, if you’re put off by the thought of being without access to your funds for a lengthy term, there’s another product that keeps your savings safe from day-to-day transacting, but doesn’t lock them away to the same extent that a term deposit does.

A notice saver account works a little like a savings account, and a little like a term deposit. Funds are deposited into an account from which they cannot be withdrawn unless you provide a given amount of notice. You can usually choose from different notice periods - for example, 30 days, 60 days or 90 days.

These ‘best of both worlds’ accounts still prevent you from dipping into your savings, but also allow you to access the funds without penalty if you need them. They're equally convenient if you wish to leave your savings where they are. Because the notice saver is an ongoing account, there’s no requirement to roll over or withdraw funds when they reach maturity, as you would with a term deposit.

An important point of distinction to bear in mind between a notice saver and a term deposit is that the interest earned on a notice saver is variable, not fixed. That is, it can be changed by your bank at any time, so long as they notify you in advance.

Still, if you’re looking for an SMSF savings product that enforces a little savings discipline, but gives you access to the funds when you need them, a notice saver may be worth your consideration.

Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians find the right home loans and savings accounts. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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