One of key characteristics of self-managed super is the way that the sector's membership is being continually replenished with younger members.
Certainly, it is well documented including by Smart Investing that SMSFs hold more than half of the total super money invested in retirement products (which include transition-to-retirement pensions held by members still in the workforce).
And many members understandably wait until large balances are built up in big APRA-regulated super funds before establishing an SMSF for their remaining years in the workforce and for a lengthy, well-planned retirement. This, of course, increases the age demographics of SMSF members as a significant proportion would have reached middle-age by that point.
Yet the tax office's self-managed super statistical report for the December quarter highlights the enthusiasm that younger members are showing in establishing SMSFs.
More than 43 per cent of the members who established SMSFs in the December quarter 2016 were under 44 with 76 per cent being under 55.
Interestingly, the peak age group for setting-up an SMSF was 45-54, accounting for almost a third of new members.
These age groups would tend to reflect extremely long-term planning by SMSF members. Keep in mind that members aged in their mid-forties may be planning to spend at least another 20 years in the workforce, depending on circumstances, and up to another 30 years or so in retirement.
Yet while the SMSF sector is being continually replenished with new younger members and new funds, it is also clear that SMSF members are entering retirement in rapidly-growing numbers. And proper planning for an SMSF in pre and post-retirement is a critical part of sound financial practice.
A close read of the specialist superannuation commentary on this month's federal Budget truly underlines the value of good advice from an SMSF specialist - for all stages of an SMSF's life, from its establishment to its final years.
By Robin Bowerman
Principal & Head of Retail, Vanguard Investments Australia
10 May 2016 | Retirement and superannuation