Corporate Trustee

Corporate Trusteeship means having a Company rather than an individual as the Trustee of your SMSF. This type of Company is known as a ‘Special Purpose Company’ because its only purpose is to act as a Trustee of an SMSF.

According to ATO statistics, the Trustees of around 80% of all SMSFs are individuals. Superannuation Warehouse’s default position is to establish new SMSFs with Individual Trustees.

This being said, Superannuation Warehouse can set up your SMSF with a Corporate Trustee if you wish. The major disadvantage of a Corporate Trustee is the upfront cost of establishing the Company. Further pros and cons are set out below.

Advantages of using a Corporate Trustee

  • If there’s only one Trustee, (i.e. no individual Trustees are involved), use the Corporate Trustee structure
  • If there is a change of Trustee you are obliged only to change Directors in the Company. You don’t have to change the Trust Deed for the Trustees (although the Trust Deed may still have to be amended if the Beneficiaries change)

Disadvantages of using a Corporate Trustee

  • Higher set-up fees
  • There is an annual fee of $48 (was $47 in 2017) payable to ASIC for maintenance of this entity (you can pay this from the SMSF)
  • Due to this extra legal structure, no extra protection is offered to SMSF assets

For an interesting recent article regarding the use of a Corporate Trustee versus Individual Trustees, please click on the button below:

Changing from Individual to a Corporate Trustee

It is relatively straightforward to change Trustees without affecting the SMSF. You can go from Individual Trustees to a Corporate Trustee and vice versa. When purchasing property, the banks may require a Corporate Trustee.

To execute a change in Trusteeship from Individual to Corporate, you must complete a Minutes Change of Trustee as well as a Trustee Consent. The new Trustees will also need to sign a new Trustee Declaration in their capacity as Trustees of a corporate entity (click on the links to download these documents).


Apart from the initial set-up fees, Superannuation Warehouse does not charge a fee to maintain the Corporate Trustee. This is included in the fixed annual fee. Superannuation Warehouse will also be appointed as tax agent for the Corporate Trustee and prepare the annual return documents.

The ASIC annual review fee (fee payable to ASIC) for the Corporate Trustee increases to $48 from 1 July 2017. For details of the ASIC fee changed from 1 July 2017, please see here.

Single Member Funds

A single member SMSF with a Corporate Trustee allows the sole Member to be the only Director of the Company and have full control over the running of the SMSF. If the SMSF had Individual Trustees, another individual would be required to act as a second Trustee and assist in the running of the SMSF.
Lastly, you need a Corporate Trustee structure if you want to add property to your SMSF later on. The Corporate Trustee of a Bare Trust cannot also be the Corporate Trustee of an SMSF.


Can I use an operating company as a Corporate Trustee?

An operating company can be used as a Corporate Trustee as long as the Directors of the company are also the Members of the Fund and Members are also the Directors of the company. However, there are some risks associated with doing so. If the operating company is liquidated, its position as a Trustee of the Fund could be compromised. Therefore, it is prudent to set up a Corporate Trustee Fund with a special purpose company whose sole purpose is to act as a Trustee of the Fund. No transacions takes place in a special purpose company.

Is it better to set up a Corporate Trustee or an Individual Trustee Fund?

It is up to the Trustees whether or not to set up a Fund with a Corporate Trustee. Most of the Funds that we set up are Individual Trustee Funds. As per the article above, the Tax Office’s record shows that 93% of all Self Managed Super Funds are Individual Trustee Funds. If required, Trustees can convert their Individual Trustee Fund into a Corporate Trustee Fund by setting up a company to act as the Trustee of the Fund. One scenario which might require a Corporate Trustee to be in place is when the SMSF acquires a loan from a bank in order to invest in properties. For more information on investing in a property with loans, please see here.


  • Justin

    Are there any restrictions on who/what can be shareholders of the corporate trustee of the SMSF? I am in the process of establishing a family trust and so was wondering whether that trust could hold all shares in the corporate trustee of the SMSF (or if indeed there is any real
    benefit in it doing so if it was permitted)? Any advice appreciated!

    • superannuationwarehouse

      All Members of an SMSF should be Directors of the Corporate Trustee. If you want to use the same company to act as Trustee of a Trust or run a business from it, yes you can do this.
      Be mindful that the special ASIC fee exemption for an SMSF dedicated Corporate Trustee would not apply if the entity is used for other purposes as well.
      On your last comment noting the Trust will hold shares in the corporate trustee – this is not usually done as a Trustee Company does not own any shares in the trust, it act as Trustee only, not an investor. The Directors will each hold a token amount of shares, say $10 each.
      Trust this answers your question.

  • Jason Nissen

    I have a query regarding setting up SMSF with corporate trustee.
    Can I use an existing company, with ACN, ABN and TFN as the corporate trustee?

    • superannuationwarehouse


      The answer is YES on the basis:
      1. Each Member of the SMSF is a Director of the Company
      2. Each Director of the Company is a Member in the SMSF

      In addition to the above, be mindful that if its an operating company, say you run a business through it, you have to remove it as Corporate Trustee from the SMSF if you sell the business or if the company goes bankrupt.

      If you use an existing company we will obviously not charge you to set up a Corporate Trustee, as the Corporate Trustee is in existence already. On the application page, follow the link as if you set up with an individual Trustee and then add the Company details in the notes section. To get past the requirements for a second individual on the online application, just repeat your name if the intention is to add yourself as the only Member in the Fund.

      Lastly, remember we will give you a call to discuss before we action the SMSF setup with the Tax Office to ensure all the details are correct. So no dramas if you do make a typo on the online form or want to discuss in more details.

      Keep well,

  • Nilesh

    Hi Mod,
    My questions is, regarding SMSF trustee company concern, Is it necessary that all the mebers of SMSF should be shareholder of Trustee company as well.

    • superannuationwarehouse


      With a Corporate Trustee, every Member must be a Director of the company. This is the way every Member represent themselves and ensure the SMSF is managed in line with their expectations.

      Keep well,

      • Nilesh

        Hi Mod,

        Thanks for get back to my query immediately. Yes Every member must be a director of the trustee company, but my questions is, ” every member should be shareholder of trustee company as well ?

        • superannuationwarehouse

          Correct, all Members must be Directors and all Directors must be Members.

  • Manojkumar K G

    Hi Mod,
    Looking at your responses, I got many of my questions answered, but I have one additional question: if I set up Corporate trustee and I’m the sole director, can I invest overseas under my personal name? Because this is due to the restrictions that the account overseas cannot be opened under the company’s name..

    • superannuationwarehouse


      An SMSF must have the legal title over all assets it holds, including overseas assets. If its not in the name of the SMSF and you hold it for the benefit of the SMSF, a custodian trust must be in place.

      The function of a custodian trust (also called a bare trust) is to note that some one holds an asset for the benefit of the SMSF. A requirement is that only one asset or a homogeneous group of assets, like a block of shares, can be held in a bare trust.

      Let us know if you want this set up and then we can action the request for you.

      Keep well,

      • Manojkumar K G

        Hi Hein, thanks again! If you tell block of assets, for ex, will the purchase of shares in different companies every month be automatically included under block of assets?

  • Jessica

    Can the director of the Corporate Trustee of a Bare trust and the Corporate Trustee of an SMSF be the same?

    • Hein Preller

      Yes – and they usually are the same person.

      • Jessica

        Thank you

  • Frederic

    I am considering using your services to setup and run my smsf.
    I want to run my investment strategy using an online broker (IB for international shares) and an independent data/recommendation provider (US based).
    How should I go about setting up a corporate trust, bank account, broker account, recommendation account, and all the paperwork ? In what order ? In who’s name? For what initial cost ? For what ongoing cost for full compliance and reporting requirements? Are all cost out of pocket or can some be claimed from ato personal income tax or smsf balance once setup? Any “hidden” ongoing requirements and expenses not covered by your services ?
    Thanks for you help clarifying these matters.
    Kind regards

    • Superannuation Warehouse


      From your email it seems you want to go with a Corporate Trustee for the SMSF. To set this up is $1,300. This is the only personal cost to pay. From this point onwards, after the SMSF is set up, the SMSF will pay for all expenses and own all assets in the name of the Fund.

      As part of the set-up process we can set up a Macquarie bank account. You can set up additional bank accounts and broker accounts if you want. Remember this can only be set up once the SMSF is established.

      A good start for you may be to do some Trustee training. There is an online course that is free and you can do it from here:

      Trust this gives you some guidance.

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Superannuation Warehouse is an accounting firm and do not provide financial advice. All information provided has been prepared without taking into account any of the Trustees’ objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of that, Trustees are advised to consider their own circumstances before engaging our services.