Deakin University Master of Financial Planning – SMSF Regulations and Taxation elective

Achieve the coveted SMSF Specialist Advisor designation (SSA®) while completing your Master of Financial Planning degree

The SMSF Regulations and Taxation elective, developed by the SMSF Association for its SMSF Specialist Advisor accreditation program, is now available as an elective unit option with the Deakin University Master of Financial Planning degree.

Graduate with your Master of Financial Planning degree and be awarded the coveted SMSF Specialist Advisor designation (SSA®) at the same time.  


To be eligible to enrol for the SMSF Regulations and Taxation elective, you must be enrolled in the Deakin Master of Financial Planning degree, and have completed the Superannuation and Retirement Planning core units.

You may also be eligible for up to 12 months complimentary membership* with the SMSF Association. Your complimentary membership will be valid to 31 March of the next calendar year. The SMSF Association membership cycle is 1 April – 31 March.

Enrol in SMSF Regulations and Taxation

$2200 ex GST

Up to 12 months complimentary SMSF Association membership* will be activated on enrolment.

Enrol today

*In order to use the SMSF Specialist Advisor (SSA®) designation, you must be an member of the SMSF Association. Enjoy up to 12 months complimentary membership with the Association while you complete your studies. Should you successfully complete the SMSF Regulations and Taxation Elective and achieve your Specialist designation before your complimentary period expires, you will be upgraded to Specialist membership for the remainder of the period. The complimentary membership offer is available to new members only.

SMSF Regulations and Taxation elective overview

9 topics + Assessment

6 months to complete

47 CPD


Total cost to complete the elective

To complete the program you are required to complete the following:

9 SMSF Modules

  1. SMSF regulatory framework
  2. Regulating SMSFs
  3. Contribution standards
  4. Investing in an SMSF
  5. Taxing an SMSF
  6. Members interests and preservation standards
  7. Payment standards and paying a benefit
  8. Taxing superannuation payments
  9. SMSF controls – Planning for life events

Learning resources include:

      • Comprehensive course notes
      • Online resources – required and recommended readings.


End of module test

At the completion of each module, students are required to answer 12 multiple choice questions. Students must answer nine (9) or more questions correctly before progressing to the next module. All 9 modules must be completed before the online exam can be attempted. 

Written assignment

The assignment requires students to answer a series of short answer questions relating to the assignment case study (maximum length is 2,000 words). The assignment is marked out of 100 and students are required to achieve a mark of 50 or more to successfully complete the assignment.

The assignment can be accessed, completed, and submitted at any time after enrolment. As the assignment covers the entire course content, it is recommended students only attempt the assignment after completing all 9 course modules and the end of module tests. Marked assignments are returned to students, together with Marker feedback.


The online examination is 2 hours in duration and consists of 90 multiple choice questions. No written answers are required. 

Students must answer at least 45 questions correctly to successfully complete the exam.

The exam is conducted under supervision, and the candidate is required to nominate a suitable supervisor (meeting specified eligibility criteria) prior to being provided with access to the online exam.

Candidates are permitted a maximum of two (2) attempts to pass the online exam.

On completion of the elective, and prior to your recognition as an SMSF Specialist, you will be required to complete a short questionnaire to confirm your eligibility to be an SMSF Specialist Advisor™.

Note: We expect that candidates will be able to pass the exam, provided there has been sufficient attention and engagement to the learning materials, as well as practical SMSF experience in the industry. 

To prepare for the online exam, you will be provided with an SSA® practice exam as part of the learning module resources.

  1. SMSF regulatory framework

    This topic sets the scene for the regulation of SMSFs by providing a summary of the key historical events associated with our superannuation system as well as identifying the purpose of superannuation. It also introduces the key concepts behind the definition of an SMSF that will be explored further throughout this subject.

  2. Regulating SMSFs
    The topic identifies the trustee covenants that all trustees must abide by and are deemed to be incorporated into the governing rules of the fund whether they are stated or not.

  3. Contributions standards

    This topic provides an outline of the rules about accepting contributions, who can make contributions and the way those contributions can be made. The topic also highlights some of the key contributions that can be made to help members accumulate beyond normal contributions, leading to strategic opportunities.

  4. Investing in an SMSF

    The topic analyses the requirements for an SMSF to have an investment strategy in accordance with the trustee covenants and operating standards for investments. It also revisits the concept of the sole purpose test, with a deeper review of what the test requires.

  5. Taxing an SMSF

    This topic explores the taxation obligations of an SMSF. It considers the taxation of ordinary income, taxable contributions, the applicable capital gains tax (CGT) provisions, how foreign transfers are treated and other statutory income. This topic also identifies income from transactions that are not maintained on an arms-length basis and imposes a higher rate of tax for income that is deemed not at arm’s length.
  1. Members’ interests and preservation standards
    This topic outlines the various components that make up a member’s superannuation interest and explains the preservation rules which determine when an SMSF trustee can release a member’s benefit. It outlines the various conditions of release which can be met to access superannuation benefits and any related cashing restrictions that are imposed to limit how much can be released or the form in which the benefits must be paid from the SMSF.

  2. Payment standards and paying a benefit

    This topic considers the features of a member account and how a member can access their money. It discusses how money can be taken either as a superannuation lump sum or as a pension and how both lump sum and pension payments are proportioned between taxable and tax-free components.

  3. Taxing superannuation payments

    This topic provides the final overlay of taxation on benefit payments. Having identified the components of a member’s interest, the proportioning that applies to benefit payments and the types of benefits that can be paid, the final step is to determine how much tax is to be paid on those benefits.

  4. SMSF controls – Planning for life events

    This topic provides the relevant references to paying benefits from a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) in the event of the death of a member. It revisits the trustee requirements on death, the benefit payment options and references the appropriate taxation.

On successful completion of this subject, participants should be able to:

  • Research and explain the legal regulations that apply to SMSFs

  • Research & critically evaluate the special taxation rules applicable to superannuation contributions, superannuation fund and superannuation benefits

  • Develop and critically evaluate an SMSF strategy to deal with regulatory and tax requirements in a complex SMSF scenario

  • Justify an SMSF strategy to deal with regulatory and tax requirements in a complex SMSF scenario


You are required to successfully complete all components of the program within six months of entering the program.

Special circumstances can be submitted for consideration by the SMSF Association Professional Standards Committee (PSC).

As part of completing your Specialist Accreditation, you will be eligible to receive 47 SMSF Association and FASEA CPD hours.

The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) has recognised the SMSF Specialist Advisor™ (SSA) designation for its recognised prior learning (RPL) category of “Coursework completed to attain a Professional Designation”.

The SMSF Association examination also satisfies the knowledge requirements of RG146 SMSF.

To be eligible to enter the SMSF Regulations and Taxation elective, you must be enrolled in the Deakin Master of Financial Planning degree, and have completed the Superannuation and Retirement Planning core unit.

On successful completion of this elective, you will be invited to become a Specialist Member of the SMSF Association to activate your SMSF Specialist Advisor™ designation.