Where do Australian self-managed superannuation funds invest their money?

More than 1.1 million Australians have a self-managed super fund. We analyse their investment choices.

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About 1,117,000 Australians are managing their own superannuation via a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF), according to the latest figures from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

There are just under 600,000 SMSFs registered in Australia today.

Over the 12 months to June 2023, 27,110 new SMSFs were set up and 10,741 were wound up.

This left a net increase of 16,369 SMSFs for the year.

SMSFs in Australia are worth just under $914 billion in local and overseas assets.

The latest data available shows that in FY22, the median value of an Australian self-managed superannuation fund was $826,299. The per-member median was $467,187.

Where do SMSFs invest most of their money?

In terms of asset allocation, the bulk of that $914 billion is invested in listed shares.

About $262.5 billion is invested in Aussie stocks compared to $15.8 billion in overseas shares.

The next biggest category of investment for SMSFs is cash and term deposits at $146 billion.

Unlisted trusts take out third position in asset allocations at a value of $119.5 billion.

SMSF investors can buy real residential property through their superannuation.

Bricks-and-mortar residential investments represent only a small sliver of the SMSF pie at $49 billion.

Commercial property assets are worth $90 billion.

There is also $474 million invested in overseas residential property.

Borrowings via self-managed superannuation funds total $26.2 billion.

Buying property via self-managed superannuation

There are special rules for buying real property through superannuation.

Firstly, the property can only be used for the provision of retirement benefits to the SMSF member.

That means neither you nor your relatives can live in the property.

You also cannot purchase a property from a fund member or any related party.

SMSF investors can borrow money to buy property through their superannuation via a limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA).

According to the moneysmart.gov.au website, SMSF property loans tend to be more costly than other property loans.

You also cannot make alterations that change the character of the property until you pay off your loan.

Who are Australia's SMSF investors?

More than 93% of Australia's self-managed superannuation funds have either one or two members.

The largest cohort of SMSF investors are aged 75 to 84 years. They represent 15.1% of members.

The next biggest group is aged 60 to 64 years, representing 12.7% of members.

Most investors managing their own superannuation live on the East Coast of Australia.

The latest data available shows that in FY22, 33% of SMSF members lived in NSW, 30.2% lived in Victoria and 17.1% lived in Queensland.

Motley Fool contributor Bronwyn Allen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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