Every self-managed superannuation fund needs a bank account. So which is the best SMSF bank account?
Important: This opinion piece should be read together with our Advice Disclaimer. The information contained within this article is my opinion as an SMSF trustee and factual information only. This article should not be considered a financial product recommendation. Readers need to research and decide on the best SMSF bank account for their needs.
Importantly, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ SMSF bank account. The Macquarie CMA could be considered the ‘least worst’ bank account for SMSFs.
Considerations when looking for the best SMSF bank account
A self-managed super fund needs a bank account purposely designed for SMSFs. The needs of an SMSF and those who work with them are different compared to a personal transaction account or a business account.
It’s also important to understand that an SMSF isn’t restricted to one bank account; it can have multiple bank accounts for different purposes (i.e. regular income and expenses, savings and investing / trading).
Best SMSF bank account: Macquarie CMA?
The Macquarie Cash Management Account, in my opinion, as a trustee of an SMSF, is the best SMSF bank account available for self-managed super funds.
Some of the key features that make Macquarie a winner for me include the following:
- Easy online set-up;
- Fast inward transfers (deposits) on the New Payments Platform (OSKO/SCT)*;
- No monthly account fees;
- No adviser commissions (or commissions rebated);
- Links with the stockbroking and investment platforms;
- Optional linked high-interest Accelerator Account**;
- Easy to set up term deposits;
- Seamless integration with SMSF accounting software;
- Reliable data feeds;
- Great accountant and adviser read-only access (under the control of the SMSF trustees);
- Great Macquarie mobile banking app;
- MFA / 2FA using the Macquarie Authenticator App;
- Daily transfer limit of $100,000 using the Macquarie Authenticator App;
- Adviser Initiated Payments (AIP) of up to $500,000 per day;
- Australian customer support and call centres;
*Fast outward transfers on the NPP have been enabled since July 2023.
**There previously was a requirement for an advisor/accountant to be attached to the account to get the linked Accelerator Account. This is no longer true for NEW applications; however still applies to existing CMAs.
Most popular SMSF bank account
According to data from Macquarie themselves and data from the ATO, 1 in 3 SMSFs use the Macquarie CMA.
That is approximately 200,000 SMSFs across the country using the Macquarie CMA. This is unsurprising as Macquarie has always worked closely with intermediaries such as accountants, financial advisers and stockbrokers. These professionals historically have determined what bank account an SMSF trustee should use. Again, this article is not intended to influence your decision on this financial product; I am simply acknowledging the historical role professionals (including advisers, brokers and accountants) have had in making the Macquarie CMA a popular choice for SMSFs.
In addition, Macquarie has put a lot of effort into ensuring their bank account integrates easily into the systems of these professionals, including through data feeds and the Macquarie ESI (External Systems Interface) – which provides many ‘open banking’ features many years before open banking and the new payments platform was a thing.
Making SMSF administration easier
With an SMSF, less is often more. An SMSF needs a good bank account to act as the cash hub. With Macquarie, the administration, accounting and audit of an SMSF become very easy. At any time, an accountant or SMSF administrator like Grow SMSF can pull through up to 3 years worth of transactions, and any new transactions come through daily. This helps make the SMSF accounting process quick and easy with no manual data entry.
In addition, Macquarie also enables powerful but flexible third-party access to advisers and accountants. The amount of access (e.g. read-only versus transaction authority) is controlled by the SMSF trustees as the account owners. For example, an SMSF administrator could be granted read-only access to the account, which enables transactions to be fed through into the SMSF accounting platform and online access to download statements or reports for the SMSF auditor when needed, all without the ability to transact on the account.
Some SMSF auditors, including the ones used by Grow SMSF, have even undertaken independent audit testing on the Macquarie CMA and its data feeds into SMSF accounting platforms like Class Super to enable them to place reliance on the data feeds. This means less paperwork each year, and SMSF accounts are completed faster and more seamlessly.
Setting up an SMSF account
Another reason the Macquarie CMA is my pick for the best SMSF bank account is the ease of set-up. Even if you’re not an existing Macquarie bank customer (which you likely aren’t because they’ve never had an extensive retail bank branch network), setting up a new SMSF bank account with Macquarie is quickly completed online, an adviser or accountant can assist (on your request) by pre-filling most of the required information for you. You then receive an email to confirm a few details and authorise the account opening, and viola! A new account is opened.
Could the Macquarie CMA be improved for SMSFs?
There is always room for improvement, even with the best SMSF bank account. Although the setup process for new accounts is relatively fast, normally only taking a few business days, delays can sometimes occur.
The main drawback currently with the Macquarie CMA is that it’s not been moved onto Macquarie’s updated banking platform. In contrast, new transaction accounts and credit cards are already running on this platform. This means that, at this time, you cannot use some of the New Payments Platform services like Osko and PayID on the Macquarie CMA for outward payments. To my understanding, the functionality that enables adviser visibility and accounting system data feeds, and integrations are not yet available on their new SAP-based banking platform.
Macquarie has confirmed that it will enable outgoing payments on the NPP sometime in June 2023. This means near-instant transfers from the Macquarie CMA to third-party accounts (first-time transfers to a new account may still be delayed for security purposes).
In the interim, Macquarie undertakes ‘sweeps’ multiple times daily, meaning transactions often clear relatively fast between the CMA and other banks and between Macquarie accounts.
Can I bank with my regular bank for my SMSF?
Yes. If you are a trustee of an SMSF, you have complete control over what accounts your SMSF uses. There is no obligation to use the Macquarie CMA to use the services of Grow. This is clearly outlined in the Grow Advice Disclaimer.
Although most people like the convenience of having all their banking in one place, some bank products are not suitable for SMSFs. For example, Suncorp is popular with many customers (especially in Queensland); however, they don’t provide a data feed for transactions. Therefore, SMSF accounting fees need to increase to compensate for the additional time it takes to prepare the accounts each year.
Also, having the SMSF bank account with a different bank is good to ensure monies are not accidentally (or intentionally) intermingled with personal funds or business monies.
Macquarie has lots of great information on its website regarding its Cash Management Account.
If you would like to know how Grow SMSF uses the Macquarie Cash Account and how it can help make the management of your SMSF cheaper and easier, Cash Management Account.