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SMSF and Financial Planning Specialist in mid-north coast NSW

We are Craig Smith & Associates
money growing

Craig Smith & Associates (CSA) is a SMSF specialist firm. We advise on the rationale for your SMSF, develop its investment strategy in conjunction with your needs and views, establish your SMSF with corporate trust (we do not recommend individual trustees), oversee all administration & compliance along with your SMSF's accounting, preparation of financial statements and lodgement with ATO alongside other essential facets of your financial planning needs including estate planning & personal insurances.

CSA's goal is to deliver multigenerational enhanced financial outcomes for our selected clients.

CSA currently advise approximately 150 client groups with approximately $60 million funds under advice & insurances in excess of $200 million.

Our office is located in Forster, a seaside community and tourist hub on the Mid North Coast of NSW (about 320 kilometres north of Sydney). Our clients are located locally, Sydney & Melbourne, a significant expatriate clientele, as well as many clients based in other capital cities and major regional centres of Australia.

The motto of Craig Smith & Associates is: "Knowledge, Trust, Quality Advice"

Our Services

Learn about the range of financial services that Craig Smith & Associates can help you with.

Meet Craig

Your SMSF & financial planning specialist.
Craig Smith

Craig Smith

Principal

Craig established Craig Smith & Associates in 1989 and has built it into an industry recognised and well respected firm.

Craig has extensive experience, expertise and academic qualifications pertinent to financial planning.

Craig holds the following qualifications:

  • SMSF Association Specialist Accredited Adviser
  • Professional Certificate in SMSF from the University of Adelaide
  • Master of Commerce in Financial Planning from University of Western Sydney
  • Bachelor of Education from Armidale College of Advanced Education (now University of New England)
  • Advanced Real Estate Certificate from Dept of Technical & Further Education

Craig is a member of the following professional associations:

  • SMSF Professionals Association of Australia
  • AFA Association

Craig is licenced through Shartru Wealth Management Pty Ltd. (Authorised Representative No: 263524)

Craig Smith & Associates is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Shartru Wealth Management Pty Ltd.

About Adviser Ratings

Adviser Ratings puts the entire world of financial advisers and online advice tools at your finger tips making it easy to find the right kind of advice to suit you and your circumstances. It is an easy to use and transparent online platform which empowers customers and provides a valuable independent mechanism of consumer feedback for the industry.

Our Aim

Despite years of experience in the financial services sector and numerous scandals engulfing the finance industry we didn’t know where to send our family and friends who were seeking financial advice. Through this clear need to bring a trustworthy and transparent service to help consumers find qualified financial services we created Adviser Ratings. Our aim is to make financial advise more accountable, accessible and affordable for customers by fostering transparency, integrity and trust.

Our Process

Our experienced team will guide you through a process that is designed to help you achieve your goals.
Couple meeting with financial adviser

The planning service provided by Craig Smith & Associates is personalised, thorough and follows a logical and proven path:

  • Fact Finding - an initial meeting where we will endeavour to truly understand your unique financial needs and goals with the completion of a Client Questionnaire. There is no fee for this initial meeting and we will provide you with a cost estimate for preparing our advice in writing at the conclusion of this meeting.
  • Evaluation - where your information is considered and your position compared to your objectives.
  • Analysis of Options - we will review different products, options & strategies that will assist you in achieving your objectives.
  • Recommendations - final recommendations with the preferred strategy is outlined to you in a written Statement of Advice.
  • Implementation - if in agreement with our recommendations we will obtain your authorisation for us to begin implementing chosen strategy or strategies.
  • Reviews - to remain effective your financial strategies need to be reviewed regularly. The impact from changes in personal circumstances, movements in investment markets, and changes in tax ruling and legislation all need to be considered and where appropriate modifications made to your strategies

Craig Smith & Associates' motto is Knowledge, Trust, Quality Advice. We strive to add real value to your business and personal financial affairs.

Our Fees

No tricks. No surprises. No unexpected charges. Learn more about our fee structure.
Relax knowing that we're not ripping you off

Initial Meeting - Fee for Service Structure

There is no fee for our initial meeting, including our preparation for that meeting.

Advice

We will give you our Financial Services Guide (FSG) and Client Questionnaire (CQ) for your completion prior to our initial meeting. Completing the Client Questionnaire prior to your initial meeting gives both of us a better idea of the main issues to discuss at the meeting.

The initial meeting also gives you the opportunity to ask questions about our experience, qualifications, testimonials etc. as well it allows us to ask you pertinent and relevant questions about where you are and where you want to be. We must both believe we can add value to your situation to proceed past the initial meeting.

If at the initial meeting we both agree there is a sound basis to proceed we will outline the scope of our advice and our fees. A Fee Engagement will be provided to you for your agreement before any advice is provided. No fee will be charged without your prior approval in writing.

All CSA's Statements of Advice (SOA) are vetted and approved by our back office solicitors before being presented to you. All SOAs include a clear description of our advice, our advice fee including implementation fee & our ongoing review program and its fee if applicable.

Our advice fees can range from $900 + GST to $2,500 + GST depending on the complexity of the advice (average advice fee is $1,500 + GST).

Latest News

Read the latest industry news and updates straight from Craig's desk.
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'Huge' professional risk in SG delays, big four firm warns

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ATO updates crypto guidance

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Reverse mortgages: Short-term gain, long-term pain

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ATO set sights on 27,000 funds in ongoing crackdown

ATO set sights on 27,000 funds in ongoing crackdown

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A dynamic approach to retiree spending and drawdowns

A dynamic approach to retiree spending and drawdowns

Here's a critical question for retirees and those nearing retirement: How much are you intending...

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Your investment freedom-maker

Your investment freedom-maker

Given that repeated research has found that a diversified portfolio's asset allocation is responsible for...

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Living expenses for retirees on the rise

Living expenses for retirees on the rise

The latest Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) statistics into retirement lifestyles has...

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Client Information

Login to our SMSF portal or view/print our Financial Services Guide, Privacy Policy and other key information documents.

Contact Us

We'd love for you to get in touch and we welcome any enquiry that you may have.

Get in Touch

Craig Smith & Associates welcomes your enquiry. To book an appointment or simply ask us a question, fill in your details and we'll be in touch soon!

Self Managed Super Funds

Craig Smith & Associates (CSA) specialises in the establishment of your SMSF, including advising on investment strategies, direct shares, exchange traded funds & listed income securities, establishment of Corporate Trustees, all administration & record keeping, regular reviews & accounting & actuarial requirements.

We currently have established and advise over 75 SMSFs and have the capacity to increase this to 100 with present staffing.

As well as having a Bachelor of Education (UNE); a Master of Commerce in Financial Planning (UWS) and an Advanced Certificate in Real Estate (NSW TAFE) Craig is also an accredited SMSF Specialist Advisor with the leading industry professional association in this speciality – The SMSF Association (SMSFA).

Our clients want SMSFs. They want the control and security of their names on their investments, and knowing exactly where their money is all the time. Clients remember what happened to their superannuation balances in the GFC and they want to make sure it does not happen again. They want a conservative and safe way to invest their superannuation and to make sure it is there when needed in retirement.

SMSFs suit most clients, from young couples just starting out to older, wealthier individuals with millions to invest.

Why pay platform fees to large institutions and investment management fees to investment managers who statistically underperform the index more often than not? With a SMSF you are in control and as numerous reports continue to confirm costs are often considerably lower than both industry & retail super supers with better performance.

Personal Insurance

A life insurance portfolio covering Death, Total and Permanent Disability, Income Protection & Trauma cover is essential for everyone with financial & family responsibilities. Personal Insurance is the foundation of every well constructed financial plan.

Advice Fee: Depending on the complexity of the insurance advice required our Statement of Advice Fee can range from $900 + GST to $2,500 + GST. Brokerage payable on the successful completion of applications are fully disclosed in $ & % terms in your Statement of Advice.

Implementation Fee: We do not charge an implementation fee as brokerage is paid by respective Life Office and incorporated into the premium (i.e. Brokerage is not an additional charge to you and reimburses us for the significant time involved in researching advice, making written recommendations & implementing our recommendations for you).

Review Fee: Renewal commission paid by the Life Offices is incorporated into the premium and covers our review fee.

Brokerage Structure: – As your adviser we can select from 2 brokerage options (your premium remains the same irrespective):

Comment: The higher the brokerage in the 1st year the lower the brokerage in following years. The higher the brokerage in subsequent years the greater the value you have as a client of the firm and the greater level of service you will receive. Brokerage paid in subsequent years allows us to review your portfolio without you paying us a fee to do so.

Reviews – It is appropriate that all insurance is reviewed at least every 2 years, or earlier as your circumstances dictate. Life Insurance is a very competitive market and offerings by different Life Office’s deserve consideration:

In additional the review service we offer includes the following:

  1. Comparative analysis of the competitiveness of your current cover with:
    1. Premiums;
    2. Benefits; and
    3. Product ratings
  2. Review changed circumstances to the appropriateness of your existing cover:

Some examples:

Estate Planning

Do you have a will?

Between half and two-thirds of adults don't. Do you need one? Only if you answer yes to any of the questions below:

Who Needs A Will?

Wills are not just for the rich. Regardless of how much or how little money you have, a will ensures that whatever personal belongings and assets you do have will go to family or beneficiaries you designate. Without a will, the court makes these decisions.

If you have children, a will is a must, to ensure that you get to choose your children's guardian. Few people plan to die in the near future, but if you die suddenly without a will, you'll be subjecting your family and loved ones to confusion and anxiety at what is already a difficult time.

There are other benefits to having a will, including tax benefits.

A will is a legal document which controls the disposition of property owned by a person on his or her death. While it is true that a will is the dominant estate planning document for most people if sensible asset protection strategies had been followed then few assets will be owned personally and the bulk of the assets will be in controlled trusts and superannuation funds.

Only assets owned personally are controlled by a will. Assets owned by superannuation funds and family trusts are not owned personally and are not controlled by a will, and have to be considered separately in any estate planning exercise.

Assets included in an estate

The 1st step to review your estate planning is to complete our Client Questionnaire (located under Client Information Tab) and identify which assets are included in your estate, i.e. what assets are controlled by you. Very often this control is held jointly or by his or her spouse. The best way to complete this exercise is to list out the assets owned personally and to list assets owned jointly or by his or her spouse. A simple table or chart should be created showing these relationships. The 2nd step is to complete the Wills and Estate Planning Questionnaire where you have the opportunity to design your Will. The 3rd step is to email to Craig Smith & Associates info@craigsmith.com.au

If prudent asset protection strategies have been followed then often the personal estate will have virtually nothing in it. All significant assets will be owned by their spouse (assuming he or she is not in a litigation prone occupation), their superannuation fund and their family trust.

The assets owned and included in the estate may include:

  1. real estate (except real estate co-owned with another person, usually a spouse, as joint tenants: this is discussed below;
  2. personal assets such as clothes, books, furniture, and perhaps small items of professional plant and equipment;
  3. securities such as shares (private companies and public companies), units in private fixed trusts, units in managed funds, property syndicates, bank deposits and similar investment type assets;
  4. unpaid trust distributions;
  5. interests in another person's will; and
  6. businesses.

Assets that are controlled but which are not owned and which therefore do not form part of his or her estate include:

  1. real estate co-owned with another person, usually a spouse, as joint tenants: this is discussed below;
  2. assets owned by a family trust over which a power of appointment is held;
  3. benefits in a superannuation fund;
  4. benefits payable under a life insurance policy;
  5. assets owned by a spouse; and
  6. allocated pensions or annuities, or state pensions, that have a reversionary beneficiary (typically involving the payment of say 70% of the pension, or an equivalent lump sum, to a surviving spouse).

Co-ownership of real estate as a joint tenant, family trusts and superannuation funds all deserve special comments and explanation.

Co-ownership of real estate as a joint tenant.

There are two ways of co-owning real estate. These are tenants in common and joint tenants. Tenancy in common is usually chosen by persons who are not married and joint tenancy is usually chosen by persons who are married.

On the death of a joint tenant, the deceased joint tenant's interest in the property passes automatically to the surviving joint tenant. This is so no matter what the deceased joint tenant's will says. The deceased joint tenant's interest in the property does not go to the deceased joint tenant's estate. This is because the joint tenant does not have discrete or separate "alienable" (i.e. transferable) interest in the property.

Whereas on the death of a tenant in common the deceased tenant in common's interest in the property forms part of his or her personal estate and will be dealt with in accordance with his or her will. This is because the tenant in common does have a discrete or separate alienable interest in the property.

For obvious reasons it is uncommon for anyone to own real estate as a joint tenant with anyone but a spouse (or perhaps some other close relative). This is because on the person's death the deceased's interest in the property passes automatically to the co-owner. This is fine if the co-owner is the deceased spouse or say child, but probably will not be fine otherwise.

It is possible to convert a joint tenancy to a tenancy in common, and sometimes this will be a good idea, subject to CGT and stamp duty considerations.

Assets held in family trusts

The trustee of the family trust owns these assets, not the individual. The trustee holds legal title to these assets on trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries, normally the individual and any spouse and family. Suffice it to say here that as the individual does not own the assets they do not form part of his or her estate on death.

However, as the individual will almost certainly control these assets, through his or her ability to appoint the trustee, then these assets can be and should be considered in the estate planning process. However, except for any broad and non-binding directions they are not considered in the individual's will. You cannot give what you do not own.

Most family trust deeds confer a complete and unfettered discretion on the trustee as regards both income distributions and capital distributions. A beneficiary cannot complain, at least at law, if the trustee fails to distribute either income or capital to them rather than to someone else. And normally they are not subject to any special duty of care: the trust deed will actually override the normal trustee duties and will in effect empower the trustee to put the trustee's own interests ahead of the other beneficiaries.

This means the key to controlling the assets held in a family trust is the power of appointment. The power of appointment refers to the power to terminate and appoint the trustee. The person who holds this power in effect controls the trustee, and hence the trust. This means that, subject to the trust deed, they can do what they like with the assets in the trust, including distributing income and capital to themselves and to related parties.

The original appointor is usually nominated in the schedule to the original trust deed. The trust deed will usually add that this person can nominate another person or persons to be the appointor, either separately to the original appointor or jointly with the original appointor. This nomination must be in writing.

It is quite common for a will prepared for a will maker who holds a power of appointment under a deed for a family trust to include a clause nominating the will maker's legal personal representative to become the appointor upon the will maker's death, and to direct that, as far as possible, the exercise of that power of appointment be consistent with the directions contained in the will.

But this may not always be sufficient and in many cases further documents may be needed to make sure the assets in the family trust are dealt with appropriately and in the way the will maker/appointor wishes. The form and content of these further documents will be determined by a reading of the original trust deed and any amending deeds and an analysis of the trusts' overall circumstances.

In many cases the further document will comprise an amending trust deed, i.e., a deed that operates to amend the terms of the original trust deed. This amending deed may operate by amending several specific clauses in the original trust deed, or may operate by deleting all of the original provisions of the trust deed and inserting new, more appropriate provisions in their place.

The terms of an amending deed will frequently include provisions that:

  1. on the death or incapacity of the original appointor or appointers' (i.e. normally either the individual solely or the individual and his or her spouse) each of the individual's children (or other heirs) will be appointed as appointors and as trustees, (or more probably, in the case of trustees, as equal directors and shareholders of a trustee company);
  2. the new appointors and trustees will have equal powers;
  3. all appointor and trustee decisions must be must be unanimously;
  4. unlock deadlocks between the appointors and trustees; and'
  5. stipulate that all net income and capital distributions must be equal;

Serious complications can arise where expected beneficiaries have unequal bargaining power, where an expected beneficiary has a mental disability, where there has been a second marriage, particularly of there are two or more sets of children, or where the extended family unit does not get on.

Expert legal advice is needed in each of these situations.

Assets held in superannuation funds

Assets held in superannuation funds do not automatically form part of an individual's estate on death. The trustee has discretions as to who is paid the deceased death benefits, and there are tax benefits if these are paid direct to "dependants" as defined (basically a spouse or children). This means that most death benefit eligible termination payments are not paid to the deceased member's estate.

Some years ago there was a notorious case where a large public trustee refused to pay a homosexual member's death benefit to that person's same sex partner. The matter went to court and eventually the payment was made. The law has now been changed to allow members to sign death benefit notices which bind the trustee to pay the benefits in accordance with the notice. A individual may use this notice to bind the trustee to pay his or her death benefits to the estate and have them dealt with under the will. But otherwise it is up to the trustee to decide what happens.

Binding death benefit notices normally are not needed in many average "mum and dad" situations. If dad dies mum is the surviving trustee and she will simply elect to pay the death benefits to herself as one of dad's dependants, and the kids will be happy with this. But complications may arise and if they do a binding death benefit notice will then be a strongly recommended part of the estate planning process.

Xpress Super

Xpress Super is an affordable and easy SMSF solution provided by parent company, SuperGuardian, who have more than 15 years’ experience administering SMSFs.

Xpress provide administration, tax and compliance services to clients around Australia and have been since 2013.

One of the many benefits to Xpress Super is the daily online reports powered by Class Super software.

All the information regarding your contributions, pensions and investments are available to you at the click of a mouse.

You can easily keep track of how much you’re contributing to your fund, and monitor your pension balance on a daily basis and see how your fund is performing.

Implementation of Advice

We make an estimation of the time it will take to implement our recommendations. Our hourly rate is calculated @ $150 + GST for senior office staff (minimum 5 years experience) and $300 + GST for senior financial planning staff. Our implementation fee is to offset business costs only.

Ongoing Review Program

Financial plans are best reviewed regularly to ensure they continue to meet your objectives in the face of your changing circumstances and changes in the external market environment. Reviews are scheduled either 6 monthly, annually or 18 monthly with additional meetings on request or as required. You can choose which is right for you.

The review service and frequency of reviews we recommend and offer is predicated by the complexity of your financial structures.

Examples:

For Managed or Self-Managed Super Funds with account balances in excess of $300,000 to $350,000 we believe 6 monthly reviews are most appropriate to ensure asset allocations & investments remain true to plan;

For superannuation accounts with less than $300,000 to $350,000 possibly annual reviews are sufficient.

For Life Insurance reviews, including Death & Total and Total & Permanent Disability, Income Protection & Trauma insurance 2 yearly reviews may be appropriate unless a significant change occurs such as major premium increases, marriage, divorce, addition to family, death in family, change to mortgage, change of job, promotion etc.

Superannuation reviews include the following basic components:

Reviews on smaller portfolio can be conducted via post, email or phone discussions. They do not have to be face to face. We also offer Skype meetings where appropriate or more convenient.

Face to face portfolio reviews are available to those clients who are paying either an agreed fixed fee or agreed percentage of funds fee.

The benefits of a fixed fee include:

Clients have the option to choose a higher ongoing review service level for a negotiated fee.

Insurance Advice Service & Fee

A well-constructed life insurance portfolio should cover Death, Total and Permanent Disability, Income Protection & Trauma. Cover is essential for everyone with financial responsibilities. Adequate insurance is the foundation of every well-constructed financial plan and no insurance or underinsurance does result in catastrophic financial outcomes.

Life Insurance Advice Fee, Implementation & Reviews

Advice:

Depending on the complexity of the insurance advice required our Statement of Advice Fee can range from $900 + GST to $2,500 + GST.

Initial and Renewal commissions are fully disclosed in $ & % terms in your Statement of Advice.

Implementation:

We do not charge an implementation fee as commissions are paid by respective Life Offices and incorporated into the premium (i.e. Commissions are not an additional charge to you and reimburse us for the significant time involved in providing & implementing our recommendations for you).

Review Fee:

Renewal commission paid by the Life Offices is incorporated into the premium and covers our review fee.

Brokerage Structure:

As your adviser we choose a commission structure from the following two options (the premium remains the same irrespective of either commission structure):

Comment:

The higher the commission as a percentage in the 1st year the lower the commission as a percentage is in the following years. The higher the Commission is in subsequent years the greater the value you have as a client of the firm and the greater level of service you will receive. Renewal commissions paid in subsequent years allows us to review your insurance portfolio without you paying us a fee to do so.

Reviews:

It is appropriate that all insurance is reviewed at least every 2 years, or earlier as circumstances dictate. Life Insurance is a very competitive market and offerings by different Life Office's deserve consideration:

In additional the review service we offer includes the following:

  1. Comparative analysis of the competitiveness of your current cover with:
    • Premiums;
    • Benefits; and
    • Product ratings
  2. Review changed circumstances to the appropriateness of your existing cover:

Some examples:

Client Information

This section gives you access to our Client Information documents and fact sheets. To view or print these documents simply click on any of the links below.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to open these documents.