Corporate Trustee: the Superior SMSF Trustee Structure

Michelle Bromley CFP®, Director & Private Client Adviser – Strategy and Advice

In the realm of wealth planning, a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) is a powerful tool, granting individuals autonomy over investment of their retirement savings and providing strategic planning opportunities not available in larger super funds. A critical decision when setting up an SMSF is choosing between a corporate trustee and individual trustees. While the simplicity of individual trustees may seem appealing, a corporate trustee offers numerous advantages.  

In this article, we will explore the reasons why a corporate trustee is superior to individual trustees for managing your self-managed superannuation fund.

  • Single member funds  
  • Smoother succession
  • Administrative efficiency  
  • Segregation of assets and asset protection  
  • Limiting administrative penalties

Single member funds

Generally, all members of an SMSF must be trustees or the directors of a corporate trustee. However, single member SMSFs must have at least two individual trustees or else have a corporate trustee where the member is sole director, or one of only two directors.  

Should you choose to have another individual involved in your SMSF, that person will have equal powers and the ability to impact decision making in relation to your benefits.

Being the sole director of a corporate trustee can provide you with full control over your super, especially if you do not want, or have available, another suitable individual to aid in decision making.  

Smoother succession & administrative efficiency

SMSFs face several challenges to smooth operation of the fund where membership changes, or in the case that a Trustee loses capacity or passes away.  

A corporate trustee has an indefinite lifespan and provides continuity of asset ownership, remaining in place with the directorship merely updated to add or remove individuals as needed.  

While paperwork is still required to update account signatories, this is much less onerous than the requirement to obtain an amending Trust Deed and change the name of asset registration under an individual trustee arrangement.

Segregation of assets & asset protection

The assets of an SMSF must be kept separate from the personal and business assets of the funds’ members – failure to do so can result in significant penalties.

Establishing a special purpose company which undertakes no activities other than to act as corporate trustee provides clear and separate asset ownership.

A company has limited liability, which ensures that in the case litigation is bought against the SMSF claims are limited to the assets held by the company and the member’s personal assets are not at risk.

Limiting administrative penalties

Though most Trustees don’t intend to contravene the superannuation laws, failure to uphold Trustee responsibilities may result in penalties being imposed.  

SMSFs must be maintained for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits to members or death benefits to their dependants. Making an unauthorised withdrawal of benefits that must be preserved within the SMSF until retirement could result in a fine of up to 60 penalty units per breach per trustee, with one penalty unit costing $313.

The cost of a single breach is $18,780 per trustee; an SMSF with 6 individual trustees could pay $112,680 in the event of a serious breach.

As the penalty is applied per breach, and more than one breach may be found, the cost of non-compliance can be significant for SMSFs with individual trustees.


While having individual trustees for your self-managed superannuation fund may be enticing for their initial ease of setup, choosing a corporate trustee offers numerous long-term benefits. From providing enhanced asset protection to simplifying administration and compliance, the advantages of a corporate trustee can outweigh those of individual trustees. The perpetual existence of the corporate entity ensures seamless succession planning, while offering asset protection benefits and full control for sole member funds. Opting for a corporate trustee is a prudent and strategic choice for anyone seeking to optimise the management of their SMSF.

Thank you for submitting your details, now you can download here.
Download Now
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you for submitting your details.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Take up this one-time exclusive offer and choose the service and expertise you need to make your SMSF work for you, speak to a specialist today to get started.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Terms & Conditions:
The promotion is not valid for cash or cash equivalent and is non-transferable. Cannot be combined with other offers, discount promotions or promotions. Promotions may be subject to availability. All monetary amounts specified in these terms and conditions are in Australian dollars (AUD). All pricing excludes GST. To redeem this promotion during the promotional period, you must complete the form submission included in the communication or landing page. Stock Doctor, Bell Direct and Prime reserves the right to modify or amend this promotion and cancel or suspend the promotion without prior notice. By completing the form or attempting to participate in this promotion, you agree to accept and be bound by these terms and conditions from StockDoctor, BellDirect and PrimeFinancial. The promotion from Bell Direct starts on Friday 27th October 2023 at 9:00 am AEDT and ends on Thursday 7th December 2023 at 5:00 pm AEDT. The promotion from Prime starts on Friday 27th October 2023 at 9:00 am AEDT and ends on Thursday 7th December 2023 at 5:00 pm AEDT. The promotion includes from StockDoctor: a 30-day complimentary membership to Stock Doctor. The promotion starts on Friday 27th Oct 2023 at 9:00 am AEDT and ends on Sunday 24th December 2023 at 5:00 pm AEDT and $200.00 AUD discount on new members joining Stock Doctor. The promotion starts on Friday 27th Oct 2023 at 9:00 am AEDT and ends on Sunday24th March 2024 at 5:00 pm AEDT.

This information has been prepared by Primestock Securities Limited ABN 67 089 676 068, AFSL 239180 ('Prime'). Prime accepts no obligation to correct or update the information or opinions in it. This information does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, you should consider whether it is appropriate to your situation. It is recommended that you obtain financial, legal and taxation advice before making any financial investment decision. Prime is bound by the Australian Privacy Principles for the handling of personal information. Privacy Policy | Financial Services Guide

Lincoln Indicators Pty Limited (Lincoln) ABN 23 006 715 573, as Corporate Authorised Representative of Lincoln Financial Group Pty Ltd ABN 70 609 751966, AFSL 483167. This communication may contain general financial product advice or forward-looking statements regarding our intent, belief or current expectations with respect to the market conditions. Caution is advised in placing undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, as our advice has been prepared without taking account of your personal circumstances. Therefore, you should consider its appropriateness, in light of your objectives, financial situation and needs, before acting on it. Before acting on any advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, and we recommend you obtain financial, legal and taxation advice before making a decision. Please refer to our Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information at Lincoln Indicators Pty Ltd. If our advice relates to the acquisition or possible acquisition of a particular financial product, you should obtain a copy of and consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) at Lincoln Indicators Pty Ltd before making any decision. 

The Bell Direct service is provided by Third Party Platform Pty Limited trading as "Bell Direct" (ABN 74 121 227 905) an Australian financial services licensee (AFSL 314341) a Participant of the ASX Limited Group and a Trading Participant of Cboe Australia. Bell Direct does not provide investment advice. You should consider your own financial situation, particular needs and investment objectives before acting on any of the information available at

Testimonials are provided by third parties for information purposes only and are not intended, and should not be taken to be financial product advice. Please refer to “Terms of Use”, “Important Information”, Terms and Conditions and The Privacy Policy Guide for StockDoctor, BellDirect and Prime for more information.

Contact details:
Phone: 03 8825 4745

A unique and personal service approach to support all your business advisory and personal wealth management needs.

wealth strategies