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The 20 shares most traded by SMSFs in 2018

by Prashant Mohan, Chief Marketing Officer, Sharesight

SMSFs make up roughly 35% of the portfolios tracked in Sharesight by Australian investors. Looking at this data, we’re able to generate insights into the investment trends of trustees building their self-managed superannuation funds.

Let’s take a look at the 20 most traded shares within those SMSF portfolios, and how they performed in 2018.

SMSF Top20 trades 2018

Based on the top 20 most traded shares by SMSFs, we constructed to see the relative performance of these instruments through the lenses of capital gains and dividends on Sharesight. The purpose of building such a portfolio was to demonstrate the relative performance of the shares most traded by SMSFs that use Sharesight.

Some assumptions in the calculation of returns below:

  • All shares were “purchased” on 1 Jan 2018.

  • A brokerage fee of $15 was allocated to every buy transaction.

  • The cost base of shares was as close to $1,000 as possible. Eg., the CSL (ASX.CSL) share price on 1 Jan 2018 was $141.30. The closest amount to $1,000 was 7 shares, which along with a $15 brokerage fee, brought the total cost base to $1004.10.

  • The Wesfarmers (ASX.WES) cost base was adjusted by the amount of the new Coles group shares cost base to reflect the impact of the Wesfarmers and Coles demerger.

Performance of the 20 shares most traded by SMSFs in 2018

SMSF Top 20 Performance Report 2018-01-01 through 2018-12-31
CodeNameCapital Gain %Dividends %Total Return %
CSLCsl Limited29.08%1.59%30.67%
MQGMacquarie Group Ltd7.44%6.31%13.75%
A2MThe A2 Milk Company37.95%0.00%37.95%
WESWesfarmers Limited0.40%7.07%7.46%
WOWWoolworths Group Ltd6.15%5.31%11.45%
APTAfterpay Touch104.64%0.00%104.64%
AFIAustralian Foundat.-5.27%5.41%0.14%
ANZAnz Banking Grp Ltd-16.14%7.84%-8.31%
CBACommonwealth Bank.-11.17%7.56%-3.62%
NABNational Aust. Bank-19.80%9.43%-10.37%
WBCWestpac Banking Corp-21.30%8.44%-12.86%
TLSTelstra Corporation.-22.65%8.53%-14.12%
WPLWoodside Petroleum-6.73%5.76%-0.97%
BHPBhp Group Limited14.06%7.58%21.63%
RIORio Tinto Limited2.07%7.42%9.49%
QBEQbe Insurance Group-6.84%2.71%-4.13%
TPMTpg Telecom Limited-3.45%0.86%-2.59%
AAPLApple Inc-9.13%1.72%3.18%
VASVngd Aus Shares-8.74%5.73%-3.00%
VGSVngd Intl Shares-3.50%2.81%-0.69%

Top 3 shares in terms of capital gains

  1. Afterpay Touch (ASX.APT) – The “buy now, pay later” company that’s always in the news has also made frequent appearances in the Sharesight20ASX in 2018. This stock has had a stellar 104.64% growth in capital over 2018.

  2. a2 Milk Company (ASX.A2M) – Another company that made headlines through 2018, the a2 Milk Company generated 38% growth in capital.

  3. CSL Ltd (ASX.CSL) – A biotech company involved in the production of insulin and penicillin, and vaccines against influenza, polio and other infectious diseases. While R&D takes place in Australia, it’s a major exporter with most of its revenues coming from the Northern hemisphere. CSL made headline news when it became the first ASX-listed share to cross $200 in August 2018. It generated a capital gain of 16%.

Top 3 shares in terms of dividend yields

  1. National Australia Bank (ASX.NAB) – While the share price didn’t perform well, NAB generated the highest dividend yield of 9.4%.

  2. Telstra (ASX.TLS) – Another underperformer in terms of share price, Telstra provided a 8.53% dividend yield in 2018.

  3. Westpac (ASX.WBC) – As with all the other major banks, Westpac had a rough year as the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry unravelled in 2018. Despite this, shareholders were still rewarded with a 8.44% dividend yield.


Apple (NASDAQ.AAPL) was the only international share in the top 20 most traded among these SMSFs. As shown in the Sharesight Performance Report, a major component of the return came from currency changes in AUD relative to the USD.

Role of ETFs in diversification

ASX-listed ETFs VGS and VAS were among the top 20 traded ASX shares among these SMSFs in 2018. According to the Vanguard website, ASX.VGS ETF provides exposure to many of the world’s largest companies listed in major developed countries. It offers low-cost access to a broadly diversified range of securities that allows investors to participate in the long-term growth potential of international economies outside Australia.

Locally, ASX.VAS, the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF, seeks to track the return of the S&P/ASX 300 Index before taking into account fees, expenses and tax.

What’s your SMSF investment strategy?

As can be seen from the top 20 traded shares by SMSFs using Sharesight in 2018, SMSF trustees favour investments that generate high income yield via dividends. However, ETFs such as ASX.VGS and ASX.VAS have found their way into the top 20 most traded shares.

SMSF Trustees are required to document the investment strategy of their SMSF each year. Typically, this is a pretty bland and generic document that is prepared by an accountant and simply highlights the asset allocation (e.g. the split between equities, fixed interest, international shares).

Sharesight’s Custom Groups feature allows you to organise your holdings according to this asset allocation and investment strategy, easing your SMSF admin burden and providing valuable insights throughout the year.

With over $6.1B USD worth of investments actively tracked by investors with Sharesight, it’s time you sign up for an account and start tracking your SMSF today!

Important Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and should not be taken as advice. Sharesight does not provide financial advice.


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