News / Apr 14, 2022

SMSF Software Comparison – The Pros & Cons Of Each

Mark Phillips
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This SMSF software comparison is not about comparing the features of software packages and online providers. 

Instead, it compares the costs and benefits for trustees who use or don’t use such technology. It also highlights the advanced services of accountants and administrators who use cloud-based SMSF software. 

A fair but non-exhaustive amount of detail has been provided to show the scope of these packages.  

SMSF software is part of FinTech technology emerging worldwide. Software suites utilise a range of technologies, such as artificial intelligence, including machine learning and natural language processing, to record, categorise and analyse massive datasets. Results are easily accessible via reports, dashboards, and spreadsheets, with 24/7 online access from any device.

SMSF accountants, administrators, advisers, and auditors can now manage heretofore impossible numbers of funds faster, with fewer staff members, at lower cost – and with better client engagement.  

Do Trustees Need Specialised SMSF Software?

Some trustees prefer to use simple spreadsheets or the general accounting packages they are familiar with for work or business. Examples are MYOB, Xero, and QuickBooks. 

Accountants managing only a few SMSF clients may also go this route.

Although simple, this approach may be risky. SMSF compliance and reporting obligations can be tricky, and the penalties for error may be high. 

Here is some of the SMSF work trustees must do:

  • Store documents and records for up to ten years
  • Annually value their assets
  • Update financial records at least annually 
  • Handle transfer balance account reporting (TBAR) and business activity statements (BAS)
  • Submit returns and pay levies and taxes by the due dates
  • Be prepared in time  – and have all the supporting documentation – for an annual audit of their finances and their compliance with SMSF legislation and regulations
  • Keep track of concessional and non-concessional limits, minimum payments for account-based pensions, depreciation, investment strategy, and new regulations, among others.

Trustees can therefore highly benefit from a system that

  • Has all the information in one place – and can even “read” documents and convert them into digital data
  • Provides daily member balances 
  • Is accessible 24/7 from anywhere and from any device 
  • Updates records in real-time
  • Tracks and correctly allocates all transactions
  • Uses feeds from banks and brokers, so minimal data entry is required  
  • Automatically sounds the alert if something seems out of line
  • Sends reminders of compliance dates and steps, and 
  • Provides accurate and timely reports to accountants, auditors, and the ATO 

These are some of the features offered by today’s top SMSF software platforms. 

SMSF Software for Trustees

Some leading platforms are available only to accounting firms, financial planners, and auditors. 

Trustees may be able to use software that administrators acquire on their behalf. Alternatively, they can hand over the administration to an SMSF professional.

There are some options for trustees wanting to manage their funds. 

For example, 

CostsFeatures
FreeCloud-based basic software for SMSF adminEnd-of-day prices for listed securities
$99 per fund per year (trustees)
$4.40 per fund per month (accountants)
Year-end report packs
TBAR
Own lodgements online
Transactions screen
Online technical support 
Additional fees: $44 for trustees and $3,85 per fund per month for accountantsLinks to bank and broker feeds


CostsFeatures
$400 (excl GST) for the first year and $200 after that. Cloud-based, AI-driven software

Administration of one fund
BGL Bank data service
Share data pack
Link to SelfWealth brokerage for DIY investors
Training on-demand
5 x telephonic support calls
The mobile app (Engage) gives an overview of member allocations, investment and pensions dashboards, and contribution limits.


There will still be work for trustees, but it will likely be more accurate and take less time than the hundred hours per year usually quoted for self-administration of a fund.  

SMSF Software Comparison for SMSF Professionals 

According to research from the Netwealth 2021 AdviceTech Report, the top suppliers of SMSF software for wealth professionals are Class (53%) and BGL (30%). SuperConcept is third at 3.9%.

A surprising finding from this report was that less than 30% of the wealth professionals surveyed said they used SMSF administration software for clients – and 62% said they had no intention of doing so!

Perhaps some of them are still using spreadsheets or generic accounting software! Alternatively, they may be using in-house platforms or a portfolio administration service, with accountants still having to pick up the annual reports and generate financial statements.

Those who have the SMSF software are putting themselves at an advantage. And it seems they are making good use of it: 50% use it daily and another 22% use it weekly.

The software enables dynamic SMSF reporting monthly or even daily rather than as a static year-end exercise. 

The superiority of Class Super and BGL Simple Fund 360 for SMSFs is borne out by the number of awards they have received over the years in the financial services and technology industries. 

They have shared the honours in the SMSF Advisor Technology Provider awards over the years. In 2021, Class Super won both the SMSF Software Provider of the Year and the SMSF Administration Platform of the year. BGL was commended.

These platforms have demonstrated their value over the past two years of COVID-19. 

Many funds have had to review their investments and change strategies. The software gives real-time information on assets and balances and has facilitated the quick execution of changes. In addition, the removal of manual processing and data entry has given accountants and advisers the time to assist clients with critical decisions.

Software Gives a Competitive Advantage to Accountants and Administrators

The most striking SMSF software comparison is the move from manual to digital systems for accounting and SMSF administration functions and the economies of scale this has achieved. 

Platforms give SMSF administrators a competitive advantage, especially when they provide services to SMSF accountants and financial advisers with multiple funds. They can handle funds in bulk while maintaining the granular detail for each one.

SMSF Admin and Accounting Features

SMSF administration professionals can be more efficient and profitable if they choose the right software tool and service. They also have the time to apply their knowledge and experience to assisting clients rather than chasing information.

Here are some of the features that make this happen:

Having all the information:  
  • An automated general ledger standardises the processing of journals across all funds
  • Administrators can reverse, recode, or correct processing errors caused by human error or poor information
  • Data can be uploaded from Excel spreadsheets, via data feeds from banks, brokers, and other institutions, and from API integration. For example, Both Class and BGL provide links to over 350 institutions and BGL has over fifty API partners
  • Share ownership can be tracked through integration with registries like Computershare, Link, and Boardroom
Tracking and matching changes:
  • Daily transactions can be matched for each fund and member every day 
  • Corporate actions on listed securities, and the resulting capital gains tax calculations, are automated and remove a previously extremely time-consuming task
Remaining compliant:
  • Compliance queries can be run across the entire database, quickly highlighting those that need attention
  • Direct links to the ATO, SuperStream, and MyGovID facilitate lodgements and transactions such as rollovers
  • Document management systems store documents, regardless of type
  • Standard reports are automated, and can also be customised

These capabilities are a far cry from a spreadsheet and generic accounting package!

Key Takeaways

Perhaps a word of caution is required. To quote Albert Einstein, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

The best data in the world is still just data. Human judgment, experience, and interpretation make it actionable information. 

This SMSF software comparison has shown how leading platforms can transform SMSF work. However, they only reach their potential in the hands of competent SMSF experts.

Contact SMSF Engine 

SMSF Engine accountants are experienced users of both Class and BGL Simple Fund 360, and we combine this with in-depth SMSF and taxation knowledge. We have provided services to SMSF accountants and financial planners for the past ten years.

If you have any questions about managing your client accounts, please speak with Mark Phillips or Alex Polorotoff at 1300 364 597 or email at mark.phillips@interprac.com.au  or alex.polorotoff@smsfengine.com.au

Book a meeting with Mark

Book a meeting with Alex

 

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