Our Story

SMSF Association Throughout the Years


We have dedicated over 20 Years to our vision of enabling Australians to take greater control of their own financial well-being through a sustainable SMSF community

Our mission to lead the professionalism, integrity and sustainability of the SMSF sector continues to drive everything we do.


Our Story

SMSF  Professionals' Association of Australia was established

The SMSF Professionals' Association of Australia (SPAA) was established 7 January 2003 and officially launched in Sydney on 28 April 2003. 

The inaugural CEO was Andrea Slattery, with Peter Fry as the inaugural Chairman of the board.

Sir Anthony Mason was the Association's Patron.

7 January 2003

SPAA held its first National Conference

150 Attendees joined the SMSF Professionals' Association of Australia (SPAA) for their inaugural National Conference.


First state chapters established

For the first time, state chapters were established in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia.


SMSF Specialist Advisor (SSA) Accreditation Program Launched

Now the industry benchmark setting SMSF advisors apart from the rest, our SMSF Specialist Advisor (SSA) accreditation program was launched.


SMSF Specialist Auditor (SSAud) Accreditation Program Launched

Following the success of our SSA designation, our SMSF Specialist Auditor (SSAud) accreditation program was launched and first exams held.


National Conference exceeds 1,000 Attendees

Having grown from its humble beginnings, our National Conference surpassed 1,000 attendees for the first time.


Contributing to the Cooper Review

SPAA contributed to the Cooper review, lodging 3 comprehensive submissions in 8 months advocating for, among other things, the in-house asset and business real property exemptions and investment flexibility of SMSFs to be retained


The SMSF Specialist Auditor (SSAud) embedded in the law

A new registration scheme was made effective 31 January 2013 which required auditors to be registered with ASIC in order to conduct audits of SMSFs.


Categorisation of SMSF investors

Research commissioned by Russell Investments in conjunction with SPAA released categorised SMSF investors for the first time as: ‘outsourcers’, ‘coach seekers’ and ‘delegators’.   


Advocated against the $500k lifetime limit

Our advocacy efforts against the proposed introduction of a $500k lifetime limit on non-concessional contributions resulted in the Government agreeing to abandon the proposal in favour on an annual cap.


National Conference exceeds 1,700 attendees

We achieved our largest ever National Conference attendance at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre in 2017, highlighting the value being provided to members.


New Patron appointed

The Reverend Tim Costello AO took over the honorary Patron role effective 6 September 2017.


Recommendation for Concessional TBAR reporting adopted

Concessional TBAR reporting regime announced for SMSFs with the ATO adopting the SMSF Association's recommendation to relax the rules for SMSFs with balances under $1 million.


3 Year Audit Proposal Overturned

The 3 year audit proposal was released by the Government, and later overturned following analysis from the SMSF Association and others which showed the intended policy outcomes would not be achieved.


Formed Alliance to successfully advocate against the ALP’s franking credit proposal

The SMSF Association formed an Alliance for a fairer retirement system and advocated against the ALP’s franking credit proposal – arguing strongly that it unfairly targeted retirees with SMSFs.


Challenged balance of at least $1 million to be considered cost effective

The SMSF Association challenged the Productivity Commission’s draft finding that SMSFs need a balance of at least $1 million to be considered cost effective. The Productivity Commission subsequently reduced the threshold to $500,000 and recommended that SMSF advice is underpinned by specialist education requirements, reflecting a long held policy position of the Association.


Fellow Membership introduced

Fellow Membership was  introduced to recognise Specialist Members for their significant commitment and contribution to both the Association and the SMSF sector.


Research released showing SMSFs cost effective at $200K or more

The Association commissioned Rice Warner to update their 2013 research on the cost of running an SMSF. This updated research subsequently released in late 2020 showed SMSFs are cost effective at a balance of $200k or more, and are the most cost effective option for balances over $500k.


2 year amnesty for legacy pensions and reforms to the residency rules announced in the Federal Budget

Our pre-budget submissions called for a 2 year amnesty for legacy pensions conversion, the removal of the active member test and modification of the central management & control test. These initiatives were subsequently taken by Government and announced in the 2021 Federal Budget.


Research released showing SMSFs achieve critical mass at $200K

The SMSF Association released research in conjunction with the University of Adelaide on understanding SMSF investment performance.

This showed SMSFs achieve critical mass at balances of $200,000. The research was based on data from over 50% of the entire SMSF population – the largest and most comprehensive research study ever undertaken on SMSF performance.

The Association subsequently wrote to ASIC requesting a review of their SMSF Advice guidance.

In late 2022, ASIC released updated SMSF Advice guidance. The ATO subsequently updated disclosures on using ATO SMSF performance data to compare the performance of the SMSF sector with the APRA fund sector.


Joint Association Working Group formed

The Joint Association Working Group (JAWG) was formed to convey a unified sector voice.


Partnered with both Kaplan Professional and Deakin University

The SMSF Association partnered with both Kaplan Professional and Deakin University to further enhance education standards and professionalism in the SMSF sector.

The SMSF Regulations and Taxation unit, developed by the Association, was made available as an elective unit in the Kaplan Professional and Deakin University Master of Financial Planning degrees.

“We are really proud of what we have achieved as an Association over the last 20 years. The SMSF sector is stronger and considerably more professional today because of the hard work and tireless commitment of our founders, staff and directors - both past and present. We are on a journey to enhance the quality of SMSF advice and to enable more Australians to take greater control of their own financial well-being through a sustainable SMSF community. With the continued support of our members, volunteers and our various stakeholders, we will reach that destination.”
Peter Burgess