Working paper

The number of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) has grown at more than 5% p.a. over the past five years. The net growth rate consists of 7% new SMSFs and 2% closures. More than 570,000 SMSFs now serve over one million members but little is known about the experiences of members. We survey 854 current and 147 former members to find out how they operate their funds and how they rate the experience. Participation in a self-managed fund is associated with high levels of general interest in superannuation, continuing even after a fund is wound up. However the number of “detractors” of SMSFs exceeds the number of “promoters”, among both current and former members. SMSF members say they enjoy “control” but the majority delegate or share most investment and operational tasks with financial professionals. Many express frustration with administrative and compliance responsibilities. Few SMSF members benchmark their fund’s performance but three times as many rate the performance of their fund as above average, compared with other SMSFs, than below average. The probability of closing a SMSF is significantly higher if members use net

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