SMSF Handbook

Your guide to setting up and running a self managed super fund

  7 minutes


For medical, dental and veterinary professionals, setting up a self-managed super fund (SMSF) can often end up in the ‘too-hard’ basket. There seems to be an enormous amount of paperwork that has to be taken care of, especially in comparison to the old ‘set-and-forget’ days, so it can be hard to even know where to start.

An SMSF is a type of trust, set up and maintained for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits to its members. There are also great advantages of having an SMSF if you’re a doctor, dentist or vet, particularly if you run or plan to run your own practice. The nature of your career means you’re likely to be in the same spot for a long time. It makes sense that all the rent your practice pays for its rooms should be going into your retirement fund - not someone else’s. There may also be tax benefits if you purchase business assets through the fund. 

Although there are some tricky aspects to setting up an SMSF, it doesn’t have to be complicated to run one. Our guide has been designed to help you navigate the process of both setting up and running your SMSF, and taking control of your financial future.

Our SMSF Handbook includes:

  • Super basics
  • Choosing a trust structure
  • How to set up an SMSF
  • Where to find help
  • Running an SMSF
  • Your investment strategy
  • Making contributions
  • Paying benefits and pensions
  • Administration
  • Taxation
  • Investments: owning business property
  • Restrictions

Super basics

SMSFs are a popular option for medical, dental and veterinary professionals for a number of reasons. It is important to recognise what the benefits are, as well as the possible downsides, before setting up your SMSF. You will also need to understand the key rules for your SMSF as well as the different trust structures that are available to you.

SMSF setup

You will need professional advice before you set up your SMSF. If your SMSF is not set up properly, it may cause significant issues in the future. The ten steps outlined in this handbook will help simplify the process for you.

Running an SMSF

When you become an individual trustee or a director of a corporate trustee of an SMSF, you take on a number of obligations which are detailed in this handbook.

One of the requirements is to develop and implement an investment strategy which considers the goals and circumstances of all the members of the fund. To do this, you must be aware of several factors including the contributions that can be made by the members, as well as the benefits and pensions that can be paid. Understanding how super is taxed is also essential when considering the after-tax outcomes and net retirement benefits for each member.

You will also take on the administrative responsibilities of ensuring your fund complies with the law. This includes record keeping, arranging an annual return audit and valuing the fund's assets.


A common investment strategy employed by many doctors, dentists and vets is to have their practice premises owned by their SMSF. The fund then leases the property back to the practice. Before considering purchasing your practice premises in your SMSF, it is important to understand the benefits and risks associated with this approach.


There is a general restriction on SMSF borrowing because it is intended to be a savings and investment vehicle. While there are rules prohibiting borrowing, your SMSF can borrow money to purchase assets like real estate under certain conditions which are outlined in this handbook.

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  • Important Information

      The information contained in this webpage is general in nature and has been provided in good faith, without taking into account your personal circumstances. While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is accurate and opinions fair and reasonable, no warranties in this regard are provided.