Thursday, August 27, 2009

A rose by any other name… choosing a name for your company, trust, or SMSF

Lisa Galbraith, CEO

At various points in our life we get to name things – our children, our pets, and some of us decide whether to change our name when we marry. We turn to book checking, discussions with interested parties, and checking of meanings.

Then comes the moment of selecting the name for your new company or your family trust or your SMSF — and many of us are stumped for ideas. All the good ideas seem to be taken!

To save you a bit of time before you start brainstorming names, here's a simple guide to what's possible.

Choosing a company name

ASIC's imprimatur

When it comes to selecting your company name, ASIC keeps a firm hand on acceptable names. No use of "bank", "trust", "ANZAC" "incorporated", "building society", "royal". Under the Act, the use of "Sir Donald Bradman" is specifically called out as off-limits. Offensive names and names that suggest illegal activity are also a no no. Schedule 6 of the Corporation Regulations provides a handy list of the unacceptable names.

Using an existing business names

An existing registered business name – other than your own – is also off limits. Even if your company will be based in Melbourne and the registered business name is in Queensland, ASIC won't let you have the name. We get lots of calls on our helpline about this. ASIC rejects these names because a company's name is in the public domain so ASIC doesn't want it to be misleading or for it to suggest a link that does not exist. So if there is a registered business name, then your company name could create confusion and your request will be rejected.

You can, of course, apply for an exception – you do that by sending a form to the appropriate Federal Minister and paying the $1,000 fee. For example if you wish to use "ANZAC", then you will need to apply in writing to the Federal Minister for Veterans Affairs. (I am not sure what the turn-around time on these types of requests is J. If you've ever done one, please comment below.)

Names that are similar to existing names

If your company name is similar to an existing company or business name, then ASIC may reject it as well. For example, using a plural of an existing name is considered too similar, so is a name that sounds the same when spoken even though it is written differently.

Use the ASIC identical name check link

So before you lodge your company application, use the ASIC identical name check link. Here is the link so you can check now.

Choosing a name for your trust or SMSF

On the other hand, when it comes to naming your SMSF or family trust, you can really let your creative juices flow. (Although if your trust will be trading in the public domain, then you probably want to keep a valve on those juices). You should also keep in mind that someone in your State Revenue Office will be stamping your document or reading the name on your cheques.

It is useful to use a name that helps you remember what the document is for; for example including "family trust" or "super fund" makes it easy for you to locate the correct legal documents.

The main thing is that trust and SMSF names do not need to be registered with ASIC (or anyone else). So it's fine if more than one trust ends up with the same name.

Some of my personal favourites that have come across my desk include: "The Absolute Trust", "Mine Not Yours Superannuation Fund", "Where2Next Super Fund".

But if you are really stuck, you can always use your own surname – which is a pretty special name in its own right.

1 comment:

  1. Until now I hadn't given the matter of naming a fund much thought, but I guess it's important as the fund will be active for some time, listed in my will etc., so it needs a good name :o)