Don't Let This Squirrel Near Your Nuts

I tried to pick a fight with a squirrel on Monday night.

It wasn't just any squirrel, either.

His name was Neil, and he was trying his hardest to flog me a Self Managed Super Fund.

Let me explain...

Would you like a Russian wife with your Maserati?

I get a lot of targeted advertising on social media. This week it's been Maserati offering me three years' free service on a new car (dudes, if I can shell out $300K for a fancy set of wheels, I can afford the occasional grease and oil change).

Ads for Russian brides pop up a few times a day as well. One was even offering 'a playmate that is dutiful, not just beautiful'. I passed.

Then I bumped into my new squirrelly pals on Facebook, telling me all I needed was $75,000 in super and I could buy an investment property and say goodbye to dodgy financial advisors forever.

I went straight to their website and found this:

If you can't read that on your screen, it's telling you with just $100K you can buy an investment property and pocket a 33.5% return in the first year. Fantastic! Where do I sign?

I was so excited I hit the 'chat now' button and met Squirrel Neil.

Scammer squirrels

Neil was a bit cagy. Actually, he didn't want to answer my questions at all. He was keen to get my phone number so one of their 'expert consultants' could give me a ring and get my fund opened, but couldn't explain how I could pocket the promised 33.5% return.

Then it got a bit weird. I know the property market's probably peaking right now, but here's what I found on the website the next day.

To my horror, the returns had crashed! Either that, or squirrels aren't very good at keeping their website in order. Actually, turns out they're not very good at sums, either.

Overnight, my expected annual returns had dropped from 33.5% to 28.5%.

Still, that's better than the 10% I'd expect from a conservative share market investment, so I asked Squirrel Heidi (they've got a lot of squirrels it seems) how much I needed to get started.

Again, the squirrels got defensive, wanting to know everything from where my super was now to my ex girlfriend's middle name.

I've been around the block a few times, and I'm pretty sure if you chase returns of 33.5%, or even 28.5% you'll end up in a Columbian prison.

So I did my own rough numbers which I've sent to my new furry friends. Here's how they stack up:

How to lose 31% in a year

Starting point: $100,000 super balance.

Purchase: $300,000 property.

Establishment costs (SMSF setup, stamp duty on property, legal fees, loan application fee): $16,049

First year income: $13,500

First year expenses (SMSF fees, agents fees, insurance, land tax, rates, maintenance, loan payments): $28,155

So at the end of the first year, here's our forecasts:

Squirrel says - Go nuts! You've turned your $100,000 into $131,500
Naked guy says - Your super is now worth just $69,000.

Truth is, it could end up far worse. That's because your fund won't have the money to pay the up-front costs, let alone the outgoings. So there's a chance you'd be forced to sell the property, wind up the fund and walk away with - perhaps $50,000 if you get lucky.

I know most Aussies are used to being screwed over by financial institutions. But this scurry (get it?) are on another level entirely.

I reckon they should change their motto to 'Your furry friends who will f*^k you financially'.

Look, I don't have a problem with people having an SMSF. My problem is the suggestion you should start one with $70,000 or even $200,000.

Even with a $500,000 balance most SMSFs can't get the same returns as a bog-standard industry fund.

And if you follow the squirrel, you're likely to end up with nothing at all.

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