Become a CPA Australia Accredited SMSF Specialist
The CPA Australia SMSF Specialisation is a mark of excellence for practitioners who provide advice, support and services to self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).
The specialisation builds on the experience and professionalism gained as a CPA, recognising Members who specialise in SMSFs and have high levels of experience in the superannuation industry.
Obtaining the CPA Australia SMSF Specialisation is the differentiator that sets you apart in a complex and rapidly-changing environment.
Who can apply for the CPA SMSF Specialisation?
Qualified CPAs and FCPAs are eligible to undertake the specialisation. To be awarded the specialisation, all candidates must satisfy three key elements including education (recognised taxation studies and SMSF workshop), testimonials, and experience that demonstrate expertise in this field.
How to become an SMSF Specialist
Have you already successfully completed a recognised SMSF education?
Simply click the apply button below to start your application for SMSF Specialisation.
Need to undertake a recognised SMSF education?
To meet the education requirements for the SMSF Specialisation, you must successfully complete a recognised SMSF qualification and specific studies in taxation.
Currently the only recognised education program is the SMSF Specialist Workshop offered by the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). This workshop is the only recognised program to gain entry into the SMSF Specialisation. It is equivalent to a Masters level program and is set at a sufficiently high standard to ensure CPAs and FCPAs are able to demonstrate their specialist SMSF knowledge to the highest level.
The program is offered in two formats, as face-to-face intensive workshops and as distance learning. The following specialist knowledge areas are covered in the program:
- contribution and benefit operating standards
- benefit payment operating standards
- investment standards
- SMSF tax concessions and contributions taxes
- SMSF and benefit taxation.
Once certified, CPA SMSF Specialists will be expected to undertake at least 50 per cent of their ongoing CPD in areas relating to their specialisation to retain their specialisation.
You can enrol for the SMSF specialist workshop at any time. However, in order to progress to being awarded the SMSF Specialisation, you will need to have satisfied the three years out of the previous five years’ experience requirement.
If you have completed the following subjects as part of the Masters of Taxation and Superannuation with University of NSW within the past five years, you may apply for the Specialisation without repeating the UNSW SMSF Specialist Workshop:
- Taxation of Superannuation
- Taxation Strategies in Financial Planning
- Self-managed Superannuation Funds Law.
Recognised taxation studies
You are also required to have studied taxation to qualify for the specialisation. The following courses would be recognised when applying for the SMSF Specialisation:
- taxation or advanced taxation segment (CPA Program)
- advanced taxation studies with another professional body
- undergraduate or postgraduate studies in tax
- the taxation module from the Chartered Accountants Program.
An exemption from this requirement will be granted if you hold current registration as a Registered Tax Agent in Australia (RTA).
You must complete a specific tax unit. Tax being covered in parts through different subjects in a course of study is not sufficient.
To meet the experience requirements you must have a minimum of three years’ experience in SMSFs in the immediate past five years, with at least 40 per cent of your time devoted to SMSF related activities. Specific experience is required in one or more of the following areas:
- SMSF audit
- SMSF administration
- SMSF accounting
- SMSF compliance
- SMSF or superannuation advice.
To validate your SMSF and superannuation experience, two testimonials must be supplied with your application. The testimonials must be specific to the core areas listed above – a pro forma or general testimonial letter will not be accepted.
Testimonials must be provided by two of the following:
- your current employer
- responsible manager of the AFS licence
- your former employer or AFS licensee
- CPA or FCPA (Fellow) but this person cannot be an Associate member of CPA Australia
- a full member of a recognised International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) professional body listed as one of their member bodies.
If you are a sole practitioner, you can provide testimonials from fellow professional accountants who are familiar with your experience. They must be a full member of a recognised IFAC professional body.
Attaining the SMSF Specialisation has a number of benefits to CPA Australia members providing SMSF advice, including that it:
- enhances the image of CPAs as competent and trustworthy SMSF advisors
- achieves a greater level of confidence from clients, both internal and external
- demonstrates a commitment to enhancing skills and expertise through ongoing specialised continuing professional development
- facilitates client referrals among practitioners
- creates the opportunity for smaller firms to become more competitive in specialty areas of practice
- encourages closer ties within the profession, as members with similar interests are brought together.
Ability to promote the SMSF Specialisation
Once awarded the specialisation you will be issued an SMSF Specialisation Certificate in recognition of your high level of skills and expertise.
You can then add the specialisation, which can be promoted via your business cards, letterheads and other business stationery written in the following form:
*Note that obtaining the SMSF Specialisation does not in itself entitle members to use the CPA Australia CPA logo and other branding materials, including branded letterhead. This is a privilege reserved for members holding a CPA Australia Public Practice Certificate only.
You will also be awarded a professional accreditation certificate.
CPA Australia does not levy any ongoing additional membership fee for members holding the SMSF Specialisation.