What type of SMSF trustee are you?

As your professional life progresses, you will undoubtedly be asked to undertake a personality inventory to apply the theory of psychological types to team environments. One of the most common of these is the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator.

A similar inventory has been applied to SMSF trustees with two studies undertaken by independent research group CoreData.

In 2011, three key types of SMSF trustee — “controllers”, “coach-seekers”, and “outsourcers” — were identified.  As with any type of personality indicator, there is rarely a dominate type and most personalities are a combination of multiple attributes.

The controllers are considered the biggest representative group.  They are typically the traditional “DIY super” pioneer — keen to manage their own retirement savings, and confident they can do it themselves with their own resources and support.

Coach-seekers, on the other hand, are trustees who, while still wanting control over their retirement saving plans, know the value of informed guidance, and that the right information can put their fund ahead of the pack. These trustees, according to the research, “seek external affirmation for their decisions, and while they would rather do things themselves, they need information and support in their decision-making and are often looking for someone to help or mentor them”.

The final category are the outsourcers, who mostly prefer to delegate management of their retirement savings to someone else.

The breakdown of the SMSF trustee population in 2011 were controllers 40%, coach-seekers 25% and outsourcers 14%. The research estimated that the overall general population (not just SMSF trustees) broke down to 20%, 30% and 50% respectively, so it’s plain to see that the research confirms that SMSF trustees stand out from the crowd.

The latest study shows that these representative proportions have changed — and in a way that is telling for the sector overall.

While controllers and outsourcers have largely remained unchanged as a proportion of overall SMSF trustee numbers, coach-seekers now comprise 46% of the SMSF trustee population — a big jump from the initial 25%.

The inference is undeniable. The plethora of service and product suppliers to the SMSF market will be looking to present their solutions more from a “help-you-do-it” approach than a “do-it-yourself” option.

The “coach-seeker” trustee now presents the biggest growth opportunity for professionals offering services to SMSFs, especially those who can provide the specialised advice and strategies sought by a sector hungry for information and education — and justifiably so.

Another salient pointer to the future growth opportunities of the SMSF market was highlighted by report: SMSF trustees are getting younger, and living longer. “We are also seeing greater interest in SMSFs by a younger demographic, those younger than 40, who are seeking a one-stop shop to service their requirements,” the report says. “The emergence of this group, as well as the need to provide income to take into account greater longevity as part of the planning process, bode well for appropriately qualified professionals with SMSF expertise.”

With the recent increase in SMSF trustees looking for guidance, and the ongoing trend in the same direction, suppliers and advisers to the SMSF market will be beholden to come up with the goods. Not only has Superannuation Australia long recognised the importance to every SMSF trustee of the value of solid and reliable super information, we are also taking efforts to fill every knowledge gap along the way. SMSF trustees — no matter what personality type — should expect nothing less.

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