SMSF establishments recovered from recent lows in September 2019 quarter

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Following several quarters of the lowest number of SMSFs being established in years, the September 2019 quarter had the strongest growth in SMSFs since 2018.

The number of SMSFs being started has been declining in recent years. Some periods – particularly the June quarters – have shown relatively strong growth, though these have coincided with high levels of SMSFs winding up.

The latest ATO SMSF statistics show that establishments in the September 2019 quarter – the first after the 2019 election – recovered compared to earlier quarters. Though the 2019 September quarter is still down compared to the same quarter in previous years.

The September 2018 quarter marked a recent high point for SMSF establishments, at 6,189, before falling to under 5,000 for the next three quarters. The March 2019 quarter is the lowest establishment of recent years, at only 4,498. Though June quarters have been seeing negative net establishment – establishment minus windups – since at least 2015.

It will take some time for the total growth of SMSFs in the September quarter to be known. The ‘windups’ figure is likely to be subject to considerable upwards revision in coming quarters, as more closing SMSFs are reported to the ATO. For example, the June 2019 quarter was originally reported as having 193 windups, but this has now been revised to 5,264.

“Establishments and wind-ups for recent quarters may be understated because there is often a time lag between when the event occurs and when we receive notification from the SMSF. It is anticipated that the number of June 2019 quarter establishments and wind-ups will increase as more notifications are received,” says the ATO.

Initially the ATO had reported the total number of SMSFs has having grown in the June 2019 quarter. But the latest statistical release has shown it actually shrank compared to the preceding quarter. The ATO currently has there being 598,582 SMSFs at the end of September 2019, with 1,124,699 total members.

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