What's in a name?

6 Oct 2020

Lyn Formica

Head of SMSF Technical & Education Services

SMSF names don’t need to be unique – there are many SMSFs called “Smith Superannuation Fund”. People often use their own names as a starting point because the fund name is then easy to remember and makes sense. 

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Over our years of experience, we have identified a number of tips for naming an SMSF:

  • Don’t start an SMSF name with “The”. You’ll find this confuses government databases. Sometimes they will record the fund under “T” and sometimes under the first letter of the rest of the name.
  • Keep it short. The assets of the fund will generally need to be recorded in the name of the trustees on account of the superannuation fund.  The longer the fund name, the more likely a third party provider (eg a bank) will truncate the name leading to confusion.
  • Avoid using punctuation such as apostrophes, commas or exclamation marks unless they form part of a name as only some third party provider computer systems can handle them.
  • Avoid really common names. Whilst SMSF names don’t need to be unique, if the name chosen has already been used for an SMSF, it may unnecessarily delay the registration process with the ATO.
  • If the members/trustees have a public role/business and an unusual name, we recommend they don’t use their surname when naming their fund. The name of the fund will be available on publicly searchable databases.  Whilst no-one will be able to find out how much money there is in the SMSF, they will be able to search for the fund and see that it exists. 
  • There is no rule that superannuation funds must have “Superannuation Fund” or “Super Fund” or even “Fund” in their name. Generally, people do though – it makes it very clear that it’s a super fund. 

Is there anything else to think about?

Whilst there are no specific rules on the fund’s name, if the fund will have a corporate trustee, there are rules which limit the corporate trustee’s name. Unlike SMSFs, each company must have a unique name and certain words are effectively banned including “trust” and “trustee”. 

An area in which we often also see problems is where the name of the member/trustee on the SMSF paperwork doesn’t match the name used in the individual’s other affairs. This can again lead to unnecessary delays in the ATO’s registration of the fund and also in the rollover of monies to the SMSF.  

Is it possible to change an SMSF’s name?

Whilst not common, the trustee of an existing SMSF may wish to change the fund’s name following a change in circumstances (eg divorce). Changing the name is possible and relatively straight forward with the assistance of a deed provider (Heffron can assist here), but the flow-on administrative requirements can be time-consuming. This is because the name on all of the assets of the fund will need to be changed. The ATO, the members and any employer contributing to the fund will also need to be notified. Choosing a name which you’ll be happy with for life may be a better option.