SMSF essentials course Outline

Course Overview

The SMSF essentials course is built by Smarter SMSF and is designed to provide students with fundamental knowledge regarding the operation and management of self-managed super funds.

It provides you with a core understanding of the superannuation laws, along with the regulatory requirements that apply to SMSFs, building an essential foundation for you to successfully undertake your work as an SMSF practitioner.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

●     Identify the different types of superannuation funds that exist and list the advantages and disadvantages of SMSFs

●     Explain the requirements to operate an SMSF, including the trustee structure, requirements of the trust deed and a trustee’s responsibilities.

●     Outline the key requirements of trustees preparing and maintaining a fund’s investment strategy

●     Explain the investment restrictions imposed on how a trustee can invest within an SMSF

●     Explain the different types of contributions that can be made into superannuation and the limitations in making contributions.

●     Outline the different types of pensions that can be paid from an SMSF and how benefits can generally be paid to a fund member.

●     Describe the taxation issues specific to SMSFs, including the different tax rates and exemptions that apply within a fund

●     Explain the different statutory requirements that a trustee must adhere to in running an SMSF.

●     Analyse and explain how super death benefits are planned for and paid from within an SMSF.


The SMSF essentials course is made up of seven modules:

●     Module 1 - Introduction to Super & SMSFs

●     Module 2 - SMSF Investment Rules

●     Module 3 - Contribution Rules

●     Module 4 - Pension & Paying Benefits

●     Module 5 - Taxation of SMSF & Member Benefits

●     Module 6 - Statutory Reporting & Responsibilities

●     Module 7 – SMSF Estate Planning


The course is delivered 'Online' via the Smarter SMSF Learning Suite, accessed via the Smarter SMSF Platform.

Each module includes a detailed workbook, Glossary and Abbreviation documents, along with other references and website links to be used as supporting materials throughout the course. It is an interactive course with many Slides containing audio and video with interactive case studies. An assessment is included at the end of each module for students to successfully complete, as part of the course completion.


The course will take up to 21 hours to complete, inclusive of the assessment that must be completed at the end of each module.

Students have a total of 16 weeks (4 months) to complete the learning and assessment requirements within the course from the date that the course is activated.

Professional Accreditation

Students who complete the course will receive a certificate of completion.

Recognition of CPD hours is available for the major accounting bodies (CPA, CAANZ & IPA), the SMSF Association and Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB). Successful completion of the course will also provide CPD hours for both ASIC and FASEA.

Outline of modules

The following table provides details of the topics covered within each of the modules in the SMSF essentials course:

Module Module Overview
Module 1: About Super & SMSFs ●     The regulation of Australia’s superannuation system
●     The three pillars of superannuation in Australia
●     The different types of super funds that exist in Australia

●     The key features and regulation of self-managed super funds

●     The definition of a self-managed super fund

●     How a SMSF operates through the requirements of its trust deed and key super laws including the sole purpose test and residency rules      

Module 2: Investment Rules ●     What is an investment strategy?
●     The requirements of an SMSF investment strategy
●     How an SMSF can invest and acquire assets

●     What investment restrictions exist within the super laws

●     Some exceptions that exist to allow certain investments within an SMSF

●     The arm’s length basis dealings requirements

Module 3: Contribution Rules ●     What is a contribution, the eligibility requirements and how contributions can be made into super
●     The types of contributions that can be made
●     How a member’s total superannuation balance impacts them making contributions

●     Meeting the work test and work test exemption requirements for a member to make a contribution

●     The timing of contributions be made into super

●     The contribution caps, the operation of the bring-forward rule and the ability to split contributions with a spouse

●     Dealing with excess contributions

●     Other types of contributions that can be made into super

Module 4: Pensions & Paying Benefits ●     The preservation rules, preservation age and conditions of release
●     How benefits can be paid, including lump sums and super income streams
●     The types of pensions that can be paid within an SMSF

●     Account Based Pension requirements, including commutation rules

●     Transition to Retirement Income Stream rules

●     Understanding the legacy pensions that continue to be paid from SMSFs

●     Understanding how a pension can cease

●     The transfer balance cap, transfer balance account and exceeding the transfer balance cap

Module 5: Taxation of SMSFs & Member Benefits ●     What type of contributions are assessable and the tax treatment of concessional contributions
●     Dealing with excess contributions, understanding contributions are assessable and how Division 293 tax applies for high income earners
●     The capital gains tax rules that apply to super funds, including CGT transitional relief and trading stock exemption

●     The types of income the fund might generate that are assessable

●     Tax deductions, including when a fund can claim and the deductibility of expenses

●     How the non-arm’s length income (NALI) provisions apply to a fund’s income and expenditure

●     How tax exemption applies to income supporting pensions in the retirement phase, including the methods in calculating ECPI

●     How the GST rules apply within SMSFs

●     How the tax laws apply to member benefits paid as a lump sum, income stream or in the event of a member’s death

Module 6: Statutory Reporting & Responsibilities ●     The financial reporting requirements for SMSFs
●     The appointment and role of the SMSF Auditor and lodgement of the SMSF Annual Return, inclusive of the supervisory levy
●     The various record-keeping requirements and reporting obligations for SMSFs

●     The obligations of Transfer Balance Cap Reporting of member events within a SMSF

●     The responsibilities of reporting for activity statements, along with PAYG instalments and withholding

●     How the SuperStream rules apply with SMSFs

●     How the Regulator deals with non-compliance

●     How to wind-up an SMSF

Module 7: SMSF Estate Planning ●     Super does not form part of an estate
●     Compulsory cashing rules on death
●     Who can be paid a super death benefit?

●     Who is a dependant?

●     Death Benefit Nominations

●     What happens if a Binding Death Benefit Nomination is invalid?

●     How can a death benefit be paid?

●     Governing rules – death benefit payments

●     What happens when a member dies who is receiving an income stream?

●     Death benefit rollovers

●     Appointing a new trustee

What is the Course fee

An updated schedule of fees is available on the Smarter SMSF website, to find out more, click here

The Essentials Course Update (Add-on) Module

The Update (Add-on) Module is an optional Module that can be added to the essentials course. The Update Module will extend the course completion window beyond the set 4 months, having no end date. It also will provide continuous access to the Course materials, especially whenever there are changes and updates to the Course materials. You have the extended ability to review any changes and use the ongoing access as an ongoing reference library.

Note: there is a current offer of 10% discount available for purchasing the Update, when combined with the essentials course.

Select this link to learn more: Update (Add-on)

Continual Professional Development (CPD) journey

Ongoing education is important to maintaining a currency of knowledge, building on your experiences as well as remaining compliant.

Smarter SMSF has several CPD options available. These vary from keeping you up to date with the SMSF environment via a quarterly update to covering a wide range of topics across the CPD knowledge areas.

To find out more about upcoming events, click here  

How to get in touch 

You can get in contact with us:

  •          By telephone on 1300 95 94 76
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